Long-time sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer has courted controversy with her latest comments on sex. This time she is being criticized for comments on sexual consent by saying that men can’t help being sexually aroused when the clothes start coming off. Westheimer even cited the Jewish Talmud as proof to back up her claims.
As part of her national book tour to flog her new book, The Doctor is In: Dr. Ruth on Love, Life, and Joie de Vivre, Dr. Ruth appeared on Washington D.C.’s NPR station WAMU and, during the Diane Rehm radio show, said that once a woman starts taking her clothes off, she has little standing to say “no” to sex.
“I am very worried about college campuses saying that a woman and a man–or two men or two women, but I talk right now about women and men–can be in bed together, Diane, and at one time, naked, and at one time he or she, most of the time they think she, can say ‘I changed my mind,'” Dr. Ruth said.
“No such thing is possible,” Westheimer continued. “In the Talmud, in the Jewish tradition, it says when that part of the male anatomy is aroused and there’s an erection, the brain flies out of that and we have to take that very seriously, so I don’t agree with that.”
After people began to accuse Westheimer of giving the green light to rape, she jumped onto Twitter to assure everyone, “I am 100% against rape. I do say to women if they don’t want to have sex with a man, they should not be naked in bed w/him.”
In another Tweet, she wrote, “That’s risky behavior like crossing street against the light. If a driver hits you, he’s legally in the wrong but you’re in the hospital.”
Still, some Rabbis and Jewish teachers say that Westheimer is wrong to use the Talmud to excuse boorish male behavior.
One Rabbi, though, thought maybe the therapist was using an old Yiddish saying as the basis for her thought process.
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg told the Times of Israel that perhaps Westheimer was referring to the old saying that goes, “Ven der Putz shtayt, der saychel gayt,” literally “When the penis ‘stands,’ the brains walk out.”
Regardless, says Rabbi Dov Linzer, the whole theme of the Talmud is about doing what is right, and he insists that, “The whole issue of responsibility and culpability is a major theme in the Talmud.”
Therefore, inflicting unwanted behavior on others is a clear violation of Jewish teaching. Despite the situation, Linzer noted, men are expected to behave themselves and control their own desires.
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