Thursday, September 8, 2011

Reputations: us versus "them"

When a boy fools around, goes around and then makes his way back into his community, he still has good chances to be considered an amazing boy. Sometimes even more so due to his journey and "experiences" by a twist of - "look at him today, after all what he's been through, he is a good serious boy..."

However, us girls do not get a free pass to hell and back.
If we fool around, we are forever to be tainted and preceded by our reputation. Girls are not forgiven, and nowadays, I think it's a pretty much accepted concept across the orthodox communities regardless of how fair or unfair it might be.

This principle might be associated with the teachings of our societies allowing a bigger leeway to male stupidity due to their nature and their uncontrollable impulse. G-d forbid a girl should slip and stain that pure soul of hers. It's all beautiful, white and romantic but at times cruel and unfair.

I was inspired to vent about this because I tried introducing a not so innocent but repented girl to a not so innocent and somewhat repented guy too. He refused to meet her on the grounds of her past (going back 5 or 6 years ago, when she was still in high-school). I understand his reluctance and discomfort about meeting her but I do blame society and it's system more than the actual pretext.

G-d judges "באשר הוא שם".

Perhaps it is one of His numerous qualities we should aim to acquire.


  1. Really? I don't find reformed bad boys remotely appealing.

    If a former bad boy isn't interested in a girl who tried the same things as he did, I certainly wouldn't blame society; I would blame him. Many people want certain things even though it is completely unreasonable, like divorced guys seeking never-married girls. Well, he can whistle Dixie to his heart's content.

  2. Wow! Very true concept. Thank you for putting it into words. I think it is like you said, very much based on the known differences between boys and girls.

  3. I find the following statement personally offensive as a man:

    "This principle might be associated with the teachings of our societies allowing a bigger leeway to male stupidity due to their nature and their uncontrollable impulse."

    Stupidity isn't limited to men or women, and impulses -whether they are in men or women are controllable. Everyone has tremendously strong urges, and people may give in to them at certain periods of time in their lives (teenage years, moments of weakness, etc).

    I agree with Princess Lea in that he bears the responsibility for his attitude(s). Instead of blaming society and an entire gender, how about placing responsibility on that individual's shoulders?

    Men are responsible for reigning in their impulses, particularly the sexual and aggressive impulses we have. Women are responsible for their strong emotions and reigning them in as well.

    While I understand that generally male acting out behavior is more tolerated, so are female emotional outbursts. But that has nothing to do with responsibility, which is squarely on the individual's shoulders regardless of gender or society or issue. There is no excuse or shield to hide behind, at least not in my mind.

  4. Sorry if i have offended you with my words that were written on a somewhat sarcastic tone.

    I agree both with you and Princess Lea that the responsibility is his in this particular case but you cannot denied that as a general rule, society's norms definitely impact the notions and ideas about gender we all have. And yes, boys do get a second chance. Giving a free pass to a girl's emotional outburst doesn't exactly equate with the free pass a guy gets at his physical outbursts.
    Simplistically speaking, isn't tsnius for a female based on the premise of guys nature? (and many other things to of course)

  5. Its the classic double standard...simple truth

  6. I'm always happy to pick a bone with socially accepted "tznius" - tznius is not about miniskirts; it's about behavior and comportment, which applies to males as well as females. Educators tend to twist the concept that all men are dogs so better cover up to save them from themselves, which I find rather belittling to men.

    I highly recommend this shiur by Rabbi Mordechai Willig:

  7. @princess lea: Ur also happy to pick on the point i was being ironic about :)

  8. @ Yedid:

    The tone doesn't change the offensiveness of the words, and neither does the half-apology. I find any of it offensive, just as much as I find jokes about Sefardi men beating their wives offensive. Any tone, irony or joking does not make them less offensive or terrible things to say.

    While you may not equate physical and emotional outbursts, what bothers you is what seems unfair to you. And in many ways it is unfair, in that sense. But then, men also have to deal with unfairness. Welcome to life, it's not about fairness (and quite frankly I don't get why people are so preoccupied with it) and it's not really fair to anyone.

    If you look at it that way, it's really easy to get absorbed in what men/women "ought to do" or "should do" and what people "deserve to have." I prefer to find the kind of spouse who is flexible, responsible and giving.

    Anyone who isn't... can kindly bugger off, and they'll find whatever they find with whomever they find it with. Good for them, but that's just not for me.

  9. @ Princess Lea
    firstly I wish there was a reply button under each comment so I don't have to do this whole "@" thing lol thats why I switched to wordpress haha.

    Anyway I TOTALLY agree with what you said. I was having difficulty when I wanted to stop wearing skirts. I asked a well respected speaker from my community what his opinion was on the matter and he said something that stuck with me. He said "modesty is not about how you dress, its about how you carry yourself. Wear skirts when you think its appropriate to like oh holiday and shabbat." ( I do that anyway by default.)

    And I believe that 100 percent. I just had a really embarrassing experience with a neighbor of mine who was blocking my car. I went over to her house to ask her to please move the car and she told me not to come next to her house dressed the way I was (I was in shorts). Honestly if you are going to call yourself religious, then you should know that embarrassing a person is the same as committing murder.
    Your personality should be modest, I don't care how covered up you are, you are not better than me.

  10. @umcheckplease: Its very sad that people don't often act the way they preach or believe. Its something the jewish communities really need to work on as a whole... I also once asked about the pants/skirts things and i've heard just like your rabbi but i've also heard that according to halacha girls should be wearing skirts :) of course that doesn't define tsnius and never allows other to be obnoxious because you dont hold like they do... Working at being a better person takes as much

    @ish yehudi: I find it unfortunate that my post offended you but i do feel very misunderstood. Frankly I dont care much abt fairness because that wont change the way things operate. Of course you cannot equate emotinal to physical outbursts as some are more obvious than others. But anyways, I dont see why you're taking such offense against this idea that I didnt totally make up, I have grounds for it. And in case you didnt get that, im not passing judgment on the way things are (again, I apologize for the use of the term male stupidity even sarcastically) just commenting.

  11. Rav Goldvicht very strongly voices his opinion on his in his annual Parshas Chayei Sarah Dating schmooze. He said that a girl who was "wilder" in herhigh school years but has since become more observant should NOT be discriminated against. Remember, he noted, you (guys) weren't tzadikim in high school either.

    I felt those words were wise then, and even moreso now after reading this post. It is an unfair double-standard, probably dating back to medieval Christian virginal typologies and themes in romantic literature (I studied about this a good bit in college). That fact alone make us cry out against this very un-Jewish sentiment.

  12. UmCheck: Despite the fact that I abide by the hemlines, collars, and sleeve thing, I find the constant conversation ridiculous and un-tzniusdik in itself.

    I was thinking about this the other day - men look. That's what they do. They'll look at a girl in sack. So where is the line that my clothing was tzniusdik or not tzniusdik enough? They look either way!

    In the end, there is more to what Jewish women have to offer than measuring hemlines. We must strive to be good people first, kind and considerate to others, and NEVER embarrass anyone, no matter how noble our intentions.