Sunday, March 27, 2011
It all began around March 1, when I glanced at my blog Stats and noticed something strange. That day an unusually large number of people were reading my post, 101 Reasons Why I Want to Get Married and the numbers continued to grow each day that week. There were tons of people reading it. I wondered why that was. When I tried to see where the traffic was coming from, it seemed that someone had posted it on Facebook. Lot's of readers? Yay! That is exciting, I thought. But in the back of my mind I was suspicious, because the few comments that the post received were not positive ones. Pretty soon I caught on to the fact that there was something going on. Finally, after some asking, an anonymous commenter enlightened me, "This blog has gone viral...kinda to show what's wrong with frummies... It's clear you have zero concept of marriage and are being forced into this situation by your community. The cultural implication of this posting are very far reaching. "
That pretty much sums it all up, but it didn't really stop there. For the most part it seems a lot was said on Facebook about my post, and I cannot track that down, but the post received a lot of feedback through comments, emails, and some other sources, most of which were all highly critical of the post, and of me personally. For those who are curious, here are some of the things people out there had to say:
1. Mark who called my post "Depressing" Read it here
2. "Rolling Eyes and Laughing"
3. An online article on My Jewish Learning, who calls my post both thoughtful and sad
4. Then there Jordan who liked both mine and Coral’s post and decided to make a webpage that generates random numbers from each of our posts. You have to hit “refresh” a couple times to get the full effect.
And to top it all off, the reason why I am writing about this now is that last week Frum Satire wrote about how "lame" my post is, here.
I can understand that people didn't like my post- unless I write about only boring and non controversial topics, people are not going to like or agree with everything I write. Sharing different perspectives is one of the wonderful parts about writing, and particularly blogging. What surprised and confused me was that people did not simply dislike the post, but they were offended, outraged and upset by it. It triggered a strong reaction. I say this because if the reaction was mild, if I had not hit a sensitive spot, then it would not have received such feedback. This surprised me because I did not think there was anything special (in a good or bad way) about the post. Why were people so upset about it?
To be honest, I have no idea why. And I can hear the critics already responding to that statement, telling me that of course I do not understand because I am a close-minded person and I can't see past my own tiny bubble, and that the biggest problem with my post is the very fact that I don't see any problem with the post. The only reason I could see for outrage is if someone thought that everything I wrote is true, which it was not, and I guess that was not obvious. Or perhaps, even if it is not true, people are outraged because it represents a certain mentality that people (particularly those who are far removed from the frum community) dislike. I can understand that while most of those reasons were not true for me, there was truth to my post, and the fact is that the Orthodox community puts an unreasonable amount of pressure on its young people to get married. In that regard, I can most certainly agree that this attitude is quite unfortunate.
The reason I am writing this post, “in defense”, is that I feel my post was misunderstood. This was clear to me from the fact that most people who attacked me accused me of being, to sum up, a typical close-minded, clueless, naive, anti-feminist, frummie. I know that I am not that way in real life, despite how my post might have come across. (Well, I am frum, but I am not frummie. The difference in my opinion is whether you think for yourself.) You don’t have to believe me when I say any of that, since none of you know me in real life. I can see why I came across that way, but I do not think that most readers understood where I am coming from, and therefore read the post the wrong way. I feel people really missed what I was trying to say in the post for the following reason.
I keep reiterating over and over that this post was meant to be humorous and funny and people just didn't get it, but that is not entirely accurate. I am not a funny person, as those who know me in real life will attest to, and the only people who actually get my sense of humor are those who I am really close to and who really get me, which is a small number of people. I did not really mean that the list was meant to be funny, but just that it was not meant to be serious. It was meant to be….amusing. Meaning, and this what I feel like no one really gets; MOST of the reasons on the list are not actually reasons that I want to get married!!! I stated from the beginning that many of those reasons are ridiculous! Of course the post is "lame" if you think I actually believe half those things!! Or if you are expecting to roll on the floor laughing! It horrifies me that there are people out there who truly believe I want to get married because I am under tons of social pressure by my family and community who pity me for being single, to find a husband who will take out the garbage and kills rodents and teach me Torah, while I clean and cook all day. Perhaps I should not have titled the post reasons why *I* want to get married, but reasons in general.
Then there were the people who understood that I was not serious, but were still offended. Why? Because there was truth to a lot of what I said, even though it was not serious. The bottom line is that the Orthodox community does put a lot of pressure on its members to get married. Despite my guess as to why this post really hit the spot with so many people, like I said originally, I am still puzzled at the fact that it received so much attention.
Another reason that this whole situation was thought-provoking for me was that I have never received so many personal attacks as a result of a post. It made me realize that people write things on the internet that they would never say in person. The internet gives people the room to be brutally honest with no consequences. You don’t know me and I don’t know you, and no one will know if you say whatever you please. In fact am sure that some will take this post as an opportunity to continue to critique my original post, and continue to attack me personally. At the end of the day, though, readers only see the side of myself that I put forward, and they do not know the real me, especially if they only read one post. This was a good reminder for me that even though I sometimes think only a few people read this blog, anyone could read what I write and it is important to think about how people can misunderstand what I write. I am considering taking a short break from blogging to reflect and think, or at least on posting a bit less, for the time being.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Anon 99 wanted to post this comment on the "Wearing Jeans" post, but it was too long, so it did not let him post it. He makes a number of good points, so I am going to post his comments here with my response:
I do not wear jeans and have not since I was 10 years old. My wife does wear denim. The chiluk is that I try to always dress like I did when I was in Beis Medrash - hence I do not wear color shirts and wear dress pants generally (playing ball, exercising or on vacation is some remote place are exceptions as I am clearly not in Beis Medrash). For girls, although there may be a taboo in denim for some people, it is not a general held belief. Rather, there are people who say a girl should not wear denim and some who say who cares. No Yeshivish place allows their guys to wear jeans in Yeshiva and even outside yeshiva it is much more clear cut thing not to do.
Generally speaking, I find the statement it's not the clothes, the outside, rather it is the inside that counts, rather disingenuous. That statement is made to (1) lower the importance of outside appearance; and (2) make the people who value outside appearance feel like they are being superficial.
I actually take extreme exception to that statement. First of all, if using the statement in terms of actual looks/beauty, then I commend a person who actually adheres to the statement and quite frankly, in that case it is true. However, in terms of dress, the statement could not be more wrong. I truly believe that your inside impacts how your appear on the outside. They way you want people to look at you is the way you feel inside. Your mode of dress and the way you look tells the world what you are like on the inside. In other words, your inside is clearly important - the way you show your inside is your outside. So by looking a certain way - you are telling the world about your insides.
Let me begin by asking: If a girl (sorry female readers) is shomer negiah, keeps shabbos and kosher, davens every day, goes to shiurim and does a myriad of good things but does not keep tznius (and for lack of argument as to what is tznius, she walks around in shorts and talk top) - is that girl a "good" girl. The politically correct answer is yes. The real answer is although she does many good deeds, she simply cannot ignore the rules of tznius and be a good girl. She is breaking a clear important rule and she unfortunately gets lowered in status.
I wonder if anyone would argue in this case, "what about all her good deeds? Aren't her insides good? The only thing that she is doing wrong is an outside/appearance thing?" In this case, I think the more rational and unbiased thinkers would agree that this is a clear case where her actions, although many of them good, includes one inside deed that is reflected on the outside.
Moving this to another level, if a girl really cares about the halachos of tznius then she will be very careful in how she dresses, i.e. tightness, skirt lengths, necklines and elbows. The difference between the girls that really care about the details and the girls who are just trying to look good and keep within the minimum of the halachos could not be clear. I look no further than my own family where I there are clear differences in the manner of dress between certain relatives (ironically that are Stern girls) that dress with more care to looking "good" and less to ensuring that they keep the details vs. my more yeshivish relatives that somehow have no problems with their skirt lengths and tightness of clothing. The point here again is that their insides are manifested on their outsides. The relatives who really care about the details never have any tznius issues and the relatives who care more about looking good are walking around (and certainly sitting) with skirts just above their knees, clothing leaving nothing to the imagination and too much skin showing.
For guys: If a guy is in a Yeshiva where they only wear white shirts and he wears color - some people might say "what is the big deal, he is only expressing his individuality? Is that so bad - he is not breaking any halachos? Do we really need to be like that mindless drones from the famous apple commerical in 1984? Can't someone be a little different and not be looked down at?" My answer is these things are avoiding the point. Those questions are trying to accomplish the two things I wrote about above ((1) lower the importance of outside appearance; and (2) make the people who value outside appearance feel like they are being superficial) and avoid the actual issue. Why would a guy want to be singularly different than the rest of his Yeshiva? Being clearly different is making a statement. It is being porush yourself from your fellow colleagues. It is specifically saying I want to be different. Well then, if you want to be different and looked at through a different prism then you can't complain if people look down upon you for separating yourself, No one said you are a bad person - but you yourself are asking to be viewed differently. You are publicly stating that although your yeshiva brethren believe one thing - you want to express your different opinion and separate yourself. Well you did. Your insides are being manifested by the way you dress.
So coming back to the original point, there is nothing inherently wrong with wearing jeans. The issue is what statement are you making. If your society says that jeans are bad and you statement is thus I want to do what I feel is OK anyway - well that tells me about your insides.
There are two main points of clarification that I would like to make in repsonse to this comment, one about jeans and one about appearances in general.
Every society in the world has its own way of dressing. Style of clothing is different depending on culture, country, religion etc. Clothing defines what section of society you belong to. Dressing a certain way defines a person as “American” vs. “French” v.s “Israeli,” or “Young” vs. “Old.” Children dress differently than teenagers and than adults. The same holds true with in different sects of Judaism. Chassidish don’t dress the same way as non-chassidish, and so on and so forth. Whether we like or not, clothes define us. Though each person may have an individual style, we still dress to fit our general societal norms, because we will be labeled as weird if we do not.
Anon 99 is quite correct in his point that while dressing outside of a societal norm may not be wrong Halachically, it is still is a statement about where you feel that you fit in society. That is why dress is one of the first things to change when a person changes religiously- either becomes more religious or less religious. Some guys go to Israel and come back with black hats, while girls come back with opaque tights. Girls who become less religious drop their long sleeves and switch to short, and begin wearing pants. “This is who I associate myself with now,” is the statement.
The article about jeans, written by a Stern College student, is interesting because of the social demographic of Stern. There is a small percentage of Yeshivish students, who would never date a guy who wears pants, because that is how guys in their social world dress, and there is a small percentage of women who wear jean pants themselves, or even those who don’t wear pants, but wouldn’t think twice about a guy wearing jeans. In fact some of those might be skeptical of a guy who did not wear jeans for religious reasons. Then there is all of us in between, who are not really in one place or another.
I used to think I would never date a guy who wears jeans. Most guys I’ve dated are not the type to, though I never actually asked any of them. Since Stern, however, I have been surprised to discover that there are guys who are hashkafically on the same page of me, yet they wear jeans. I’ve only met a few, but that is enough to make me realize that for someone like me, who is in the middle, jeans are not a clear cut indicator of “this is where I fit in.” For others, jeans are an indicator.
The second point I would like to make is to connected to Anon 99’s first point about how appearances count, and it is not enough if a girl keeps all other mitzvot besides Tznius. The question I would like to ask is: Do appearances matter? The obvious answer is that yes, they do. But let me explain.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
There was so much hype about the Maccabeats' Candlelight video that I did not feel the need to write about the Maccabeats around Chanukah. But the truth is that a post about the Maccabeats is long overdue.
I am not obsessed with the Maccabeats, but I am obsessed with their fame. Although from a musical perspective their songs are excellent and a pleasure to listen to, other a capella groups are more talented musically- groups such as Six13, for instance. They are excellent, but not the most amazing group I have ever heard. What interests me more is that a small group of YU students went from being nearly unknown to being close to 5 million views famous. While the Maccabeats are clearly talented, their fame is really due to two factors: Uri Westrich and the amazing video he directed, and secondly like with everything that is successful, they (unintentionally) filled in a missing hole in society. The world, or at least
Candlelight was fun to sing and catchy. When I watched the video for the first time, my first reaction was one that I know was shared by many of you out there. I stared at the screen, whispered “wow,” and then watched it again. Like potato chips, I had to keep watching it again and again. I watched as the video reached the milestone of one million views, as news station after news station interviewed the Maccabeats, and I saw them perform Candlelight live at the annual YU Chanukah concert. As a graduate of
Today the Maccabeats released their new video, about Purim. Some of us devoted fans (and Facebook stalkers) have been awaiting this video, especially since the Maccabeats' status last week which hinted that it was coming. Before I discuss the video, here it is:
The difficult part about making a video after a hit is that there are tons of expectations, and a lot to live up to. Overall the Purim video was quite good and well done, but as could be expected, it was not quite as good as Candlelight. Let me start out with my critique and end on a positive note.
The main reason why the new video is lacking is that it is a poor song choice for a number of reasons. Firstly, because the song on which it was based is an inappropriate song. Due to the limited amount of time I spend listening to non- Jewish music, I had never heard the song "Raise Your Glass," by Pink before, and the first thing I did was search on YouTube for the original. (I will also point out that I had never heard of "Dynamite" before, and I immediately went to the original in that case as well). The first video that came up was the official music video of Pink for the song, which I am horrified to say that I watched, and strongly do not recommend. The lyrics of the song were mildly upsetting, but the video itself was extremely offensive. Putting the lyrics and video aside, "Raise your Glass" was a poor selection for the Maccabeats because it is not so catchy and difficult to sing. Candlelight can be difficult to sing, but the Purim Song is even more so. If people have difficulties singing it, then they won't. It goes nowhere. “I flip my latkes in the air sometimes” is much more catchy than “Raise your glass.” Additionally, the words “raise your glass” are part of the original lyric of the song, whereas “I flip my latkes in the air sometimes” is a line written by the Maccabeats.
My second critique of the video, after their song choice, boils down to the fact I would rename this video to "Candlelight: The sequel." Candlelight was not the Maccabeats' first video. Their "One Day" video was the first video, and it was drastically different from Candlelight both musically and stylistically. The Purim Song video is more of a synthesis of their two videos, without really adding its' own unique aspect. The Purim song takes themes from both previous videos. It shows the Maccabeats singing outside in their coats in the snow, which is very much reminiscent of the scenes in the park in the One Day video. One of the elements taken from Candlelight is that it features a reenactment of the story of the holiday on which it is based, in this case, Purim. Another similar element is what I will call the "holiday feast" scene, where the members of the group are casually seated around a table and shown chatting and eating. The only new element of the video is the introduction of children into the video. I don't know who those kids are, but they sure are lucky to make it into the video! Their parents must be proud.
Now on to what I liked about the video: Let’s start out with the amazing vocals, as always, the Maccabeats sound great! The video it self was quite amazing quality and extremely professional, living up to the high standard of the other two. The Seuda scene was perfect for film with tons of colors. It was just so colorful! The costumes were amazing, as a Harry Potter fan, I liked that costume, and every detail of that scene was perfect. I was also impressed with the
Despite the poor song choice that is just not catchy enough for me to sing along to, and the slight lack of originality, the Maccabeats’ video is fun to watch, a pleasure to listen to and overall I just have to say Yashar Koach to the Maccabeats and all of those who helped put the video together. May this video make a Kiddush Hashem just like the previous video, and may it be the channel through which the message of Purim is spread.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
A recent article in the YU Beacon about males wearing jeans caught my interest. The article interviews guys in Yeshiva College, some of whom wear jeans, some of whom do not, and asks each the reasoning behind their choice. It continues to interview Stern College students who for the most part express the fact that they would not date a guy who wears jeans. I found the article insightful and well-written, and underlying the article is the following question:
On the one hand, it is not the external clothes that a person wears that matters (as long as the person is Tznius and keeping Halacha), it is the internal, who a person is, that really matters. Yet, on the other hand, clothes clearly do signify some level of religious observance, as is clear by the fact that a Chassidish men and women do not dress the same as a non-Jewish men and women. Then there is all the nuance of dress in between, not just for women, but for men as well. A while ago I wrote about Kippot. Perhaps it shouldn’t matter what type of Kippah a guy wears, but the bottom line, as sad as it is, is that the social norms within Orthodox Judaism are that those who hold certain beliefs wear a certain type of Kippah, while those who hold other beliefs wear a different type. So if someone were to say, “I don’t want to date a guy who wears that type of yarmulke,” that person would really be saying that they don’t agree with the beliefs of a person who generally wears that Kippah.
The problem is when we start confusing clothing for beliefs. Because as much as we assume that the guy who isn’t wear a Kippah is not religious, the bottom line is that we don’t know if he keeps shabbos or kashrut or any other mitzvah simply based on appearance. Unfortunately, I, too, fall into this trap. If everything else sounded like the match was on target, I would not decline to date a guy simply because of the way he was dressed (either because he dressed in a way that signified he was less religious or in a way that signified that he is more religious than I am), but I admit that certain modes of dress would make me cautious. I would not date guys who dress in a certain way not based on the way of dress, but based on conflicting religious or other beliefs.
One thing that surprised me is that the article in the YU Beacon did not mention women wearing denim/jean skirts, as that is something I encountered personally. I wear denim skirts (*oh no! I might never find a shidduch!*) and one summer in college I was on a learning summer program which had had a program for high school girls as well. In terms of my religious observance, I was to the left of everyone in my program, (which I enjoyed since I had been in environments where I was the most religiously observant and it was nice to be on the other end of things!) but I was even more to the left of the high school program. While the college-age program had no dress code, the program for high schoolers had a specific dress code, one which forbade denim skirts.
One day I happened to be waiting in the hallway with two of the high schoolers and their madricha, who was around my age. One of the high schoolers looked me over and goes, "You're allowed to wear denim skirts??" I self-consciously replied that we could wear what we wanted. She then turned to the madricha and asked, “Why can she wear jean skirts?” to which the madricha said something like, "Well, (pause) she's not in high school." Her reply and the way and tone in which she said it bothered me, for two reasons. Firstly because her words were said as though it's only wrong for high schoolers to wear denim and when you grow up it's fine to wear anything, but also because she was implying that wearing denim is never OK, and she couldn't think of a reason that I was allowed to wear them.
Out of curiosity:
Do you wear jeans/jean skirts? If you do not, would you date someone who does? If you do, would you date someone who does not? Are there other types of clothing that would fall under the category of “I would not date someone if they wore that”? Do you think clothing is a valid reason to say no to a shidduch?
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Men and women think differently, and we are always trying to understand what the other gender is thinking and how they reached the conclusions they did. The following video sheds some light on this subject. I know it's 10 minutes, but the key points are in the first 3 minutes, and it is definitely worth a watch:
To sum up:
Men’s brains are like boxes, with each topic divided up in their mind. When they are thinking about something, they are just thinking about that one thing and nothing else. They also have a “nothing” box which allows them to think about nothing.
Women’s brains are like a million interconnected wires, which are constantly busy. When they are thinking about something, they are also thinking about one hundred other things which are connected to it in their mind. They are always thinking and never thinking about nothing.
While this is not true for all men and all women, I think it is true as a general rule. I will say that I think it is true for me personally, though I would never claim to understand men’s brains. When I first watched this video my reaction was the following: Guys don’t really have a “nothing” box! How can anyone be thinking about nothing? You’re always thinking about something! That is completely not true. Men just want women to think they have a “nothing” box, but really when they say they are thinking about nothing, they are thinking about something inappropriate so they do not want to share it. This is fine, and understandable that they are thinking inappropriate thoughts, but they can’t possibly be thinking about nothing! Clearly, I just don't understand guys.
The key is that neither of these ways of thinking is *better* than the other, they are both good, just different. They each have their pros and cons, and in some situations it is better to think like a man, while other situations benefit from the way a woman thinks. That is what makes the world work. While there are times when I wish I could turn my brain off and think about nothing, I like the fact that everything is all connected in my brain.
A recent blogging situation demonstrates how true this is. I recently wrote a post about reasons why I want to get married, where I listed 101 reasons. Harry-er than them followed up with his post (which actually fits in nicely with this post, since he mentions that women are difficult to figure out), about why he wants to get married which comes down to, as he puts it “because I feel its best for me.” This is just typical male vs. female. For the male, Harry-er in this case, marriage is about marriage, simple as that, without connecting it to 100 things. It all stays in the “marriage” box. Short, simple, and sweet, and that is the end of it. No need to go crazy. Marriage is about marriage, the end.
For the female, however, me in this case, marriage is not just about marriage. It’s about 100 other things- how will this affect my life? How will this decision affect my family? What about my friends? How does marriage have a spiritual impact? An emotional impact? My brain races furiously thinking of what marriage means for every single aspect of my life, down to the tiniest detail.
The great and beautiful thing is that both of these approaches work for each of us. Different approaches in life are what make the world go round. It would be so boring if we all thought the same way and life would be too easy if we just automatically understood each other. Resolving conflict, learning to understand each other, questioning, growing, and trying to figure out how to be together, is part of what life is all about.