Opinion |

The Destruction of Relations Between Men and Women

The debate about whether former former Brig. Gen. Ofek Buchris deserves jail time on rape charges shows it’s become dangerous to express public opposition to the imposition of rules of conduct between the sexes.

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A file photo of Ofek Buchris, 2010.
A file photo of Ofek Buchris, 2010.Credit: Hagai Ofan

In addition to the masses on Facebook and the media seeking to hang in the town square the latest man who harms a young woman’s purity, one can also feel the resounding silence of the silent majority. When it comes to the ongoing war between the sexes, a lot of people today are afraid to say that recent battles have exceeded all bounds and that it is no longer a defensive war. And that goes for both men and women.

It’s dangerous these days to express public opposition to the further imposition of rules of conduct between the sexes, and anyone who expresses against mainstream wisdom is subject to public stoning, contempt and ostracism, and perhaps even risks losing his job.

But doesn’t the danger threatening the future of relations between men and women require that we stop remaining silent? In the discussions about the linguistic mutation “prohibited sexual intercourse by consent” (in the trial of former Brig. Gen. Ofek Buchris on rape charges) it was misunderstood as if it was another way of describing "rape".

The expression was made to appear ridiculous because it was seen as a misuse of language that violates the inherent contradiction – which is not disputed – between rape and consent. But what the plea bargain says is exactly that: there was no rape, just prohibited relations by consent between a man and a woman (who were both over the age of consent.) In other words, the baseless contradiction that served as the grounds for the ridicule doesn’t exist. Why deny it?

“Prohibited sexual intercourse by consent” reveals the ridiculousness in the very pretention to standardize relations by consent, since there isn’t always a contradiction between prohibition and consent. Not everything that is prohibited constitutes a sin. Some prohibitions are just a way to maintain hygiene and order, even when it comes to sexual relations. Institutions, both public and private, are entitled to ban certain conduct on the part of their employees, even if they are made by consent. But the existence of these prohibitions does not necessarily mean that their violation is a sin, certainly not the type of sin justifying a modern-day lynching.

We should also be cautious in our attacks on relationships of authority. Relationships of authority develop naturally in contact between people. One can be “captivated” by the charm of someone’s intelligence, beauty, courage, talent or greatness. Great love has been born that way, as has great disappointment. Relations of authority, as with any relationship, have two sides. Each side is captivated by the authority created by the other party. Authority is not a synonym for exploitation.

It is true that there are exploitaters and deceivers everywhere, and people would do well to learn to steer clear of them and not to ignore the warning signs. Formal institutions create relations of authority in an artificial manner that doesn’t always reflect natural authority. The army, educational institutions and places of employment create hierarchies by using ranks and positions, between teacher and student, commander and soldier, manager and employee.

It’s a recipe for misunderstanding, disappointment and remorse: He’s not really brave; he’s just the commander. He’s not really brilliant; he’s just the teacher. He’s not really talented; he’s just the manager. For that reason, formal institutions are fertile ground for people who are exploitative and dishonest.

If the ban on relations were always enforced, without regard for consent, and with regard to all those involved, it would ultimately be recognized as prohibited conduct. And it would make it easier to protect those whose consent was obtained by “fraud” (as a result of being under the spell of artificial authority that acted like some kind of rape drug.) But, from the outset, enforcement of that provision is selective because too many people – the silent majority – know that the price will be the total destruction of the magnetic field that creates natural relationships between men and women. At formal institutions, and ultimately everywhere else too.

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