Being one of the few females teaching in my college's men's division has given me some unique experiences that I guarantee the male professors have not had. For one thing, my perspective is obviously different and I will see certain things that need to be addressed that my male counterparts are not addressing.
Our heating system seems to have only two settings: off and blasting. The classrooms in the winter seem to demand summer clothing, but everyone arrives wearing winter clothing. The aroma in the rooms can sometimes get rather ripe. So as part of the unit on preparing for an interview I find myself bringing up the subject of deodorants and their necessity. I get grins all around but I've actually noticed an improvement. One of the deans asked me if I talk about deodorants and then said he was happy that someone had mentioned it. Clearly this seems to fall to the "mother" of the species.
I've been asked about dating venues. I've been asked about what might be an appropriate gift to bring if you're going to a stranger's house for a Shabbos. I've been asked about what constitutes dressing for success. And yes, I was once asked a question that boiled down to "What do women want!" And I also remember fondly a student coming to me in somewhat of a panic. He had somehow ripped two buttons off of his suit jacket and was going to a wedding after class and what should he do about the buttons?! I took out a needle and thread (yes, women's purses are a treasure trove of items) and sewed on the two buttons.
This week I noticed that one of my students looked rather wan and his head was nodding as if sleep were imminent. I thought he might be coming down with something so I asked if he were feeling okay. He mentioned that his baby was teething, and teething badly. And then he eagerly asked if I had any tips on how to deal with a teething baby.
For the boys in dorms I may be the only female they are ever around on a regular basis. It's become clear to me that knowing about the themes and sub-themes in any given piece of literature, that knowing where the semi-colons belong or don't belong is not the only thing my students need from me. Now if only I could figure out how to take all these "children" of mine off as a tax deduction.
I'm confused why a male professor would not bring up the personal hygeine issues. I've known many male teachers, coaches, etc. who would have no problem doing so and have done so. Also, the need for regular showers and deodorant is usually covered in junior high and high school health class, although reminders certainly can be necessary.
It really is appalling for what passes for hygiene and dressing well for some in the RW community. I don't know who's to blame, but it is a serious issue if for no other reason than a ben torah should be more presentable.
I wonder, don't these young men have mothers they can talk to or give them advice? Maybe it's because I'm more centrist, or maybe I just have a very strong relationship with my parents, but I was never afraid to ask my parents for advice or assistance or to just talk about what was going on in my life. Are mother-son relationships different for the RW? Is it inappropriate to talk to one's mother about these things?
I don't get it either. My husband's father certainly would have never let him leave the house if he wasn't washed, combed, and had on neat, pressed, and lint- free, unstained clothes.
A whole lot of these boys aren't living at home with their parents. They are in dorms some from high school on. At least from what I know from my husband and brothers the boys don't spend time talking to each other about deodorants and showers and clean pressed clothes.
Leahle -- didn't they have dorm masters or dorm parents if they dormed during high school? Don't they spend some weekends, holidays and summers with their parents?
ProfK: Did you consider showing the student how to sew a button while you were doing it? Do these young men understand that sewing is not just women's work? My grandfather was a tailor as were many of our great and great, great grandfathers in the "old country."
There is somehow always a surrogate den-mother, in every community, who always takes care of people, it's just the way it is, and it's a trait found in many animals. It's a good trait ProfK! In my experience all the kids go to an old age home, and the lady who runs it is everyone's second mum!
It's not just RW. My mother (she'll remember this one) was dismayed when an MO guy came to pick me up for a date and she opened the door--a lack of grooming was pretty evident. She wasn't the least surprised when I said "absolutely not" when I came home. Of course, he went to Columbia and not Touro, so he clearly didn't have the right "den mother."
I will never understand the ignorance of one's own odor.
Are their noses malfunctioning?
Thanks for doing your part!
Please keep in mind that it is not ALL the males in the room who are "perfuming" it. Some come in just as we'd all appreciate . However....
I asked my son if anyone, at any time, in any of the yeshivas he had gone to, had mentioned personal hygiene. The answer was no. It was not covered in school, not in health ed class (which the boys never got) or in any class.
Boys with older sisters have an advantage in that the sisters are usually pretty outspoken and call a spade a spade and let the boys know if some hygiene habit needs changing.
Then there is this, women are apparently more sensitive to matters of personal hygiene and personal grooming. Yes, there are a few men who are just as persnickety sa women. You are exempted from what follows. Question to the women here: if you wore a blouse from 7:00 am until 11:30 pm what would you do with it when you took it off? Would it go back in the closet? Would you wear it again the next day? For two or three days after that? Would it go into the laundry hamper? Now how about if you wore that blouse under a suit jacket all day? Would you wear it again? How about socks? Would you wear a pair today and wear them again tomorrow? How about unmentionables? Would you wear them for a whole day and then again the next day or days? How about sleeping in the same pair? Ladies, how many times would you wear a suit--and for how long--before you would either send it to the cleaners or clean it yourself? And if women would wear undershirts, do you envision wearing the same one for multiple days? Now mothers, sisters and married ladies, how do you suppose that the men you know would answer these questions? Would their answers be identical to yours?
And then there are tzitzis. They may have religious significance but they are a garment worn close to the body. How often do those tzitzit get washed? If a boy is not home in his mother's house, where she may be the one grabbing the tzitzit and doing the washing, those tzitzit may get washed never.
To the anonymous who asked if I taught the young man with the ripped buttons how to sew, would have been nice but I don't think my bosses would accept the answer for why I was late to a class if that answer were to be I was teaching a student how to sew. Of course men can sew--but somebody has to teach them, preferably their mothers or wives.
To the anonymous who asked "didn't they have dorm masters or dorm parents if they dormed during high school? Don't they spend some weekends, holidays and summers with their parents?" The dorm supervisors are just older bochrim and I'm not sure they consider hygiene patrol as part of their job. Summers at home? Most of these boys spend summers in camp. Some of these dorms "allow" one or two out Shabbosim a month, so if a boy is local he gets to see his parents. If he's not from the area, then yom tovim are about it.
I've also been told this by more than one person. There are some to the right who believe that deodorants fall in the category of women's annointments and aren't suitable for males to use, in the same way that they don't consider colognes as seemly for a man to wear.
I taught in the school where you teach many years ago, both the men and the women. With the women you could sometimes die of the dueling perfume smells. With the men you could sometimes just die of the smells. Like you say, it wasn't all the men but even one or two are noticeable.
"E. Fink said...
I will never understand the ignorance of one's own odor.
Are their noses malfunctioning?"
You don't smell your own odor, at least not constantly. Same when women sometimes don't realize when they have too much scent applied.
I taught in the school where you teach many years ago, both the men and the women. With the women you could sometimes die of the dueling perfume smells."
Nice to have some balance here. Imperfection exists on both sides.
Summers at home? Most of these boys spend summers in camp. Some of these dorms "allow" one or two out Shabbosim a month, so if a boy is local he gets to see his parents. If he's not from the area, then yom tovim are about it.
Of course that raises all sorts of other issues - a whole generation of boys growing up sans parents though not orphans.
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