Monday, December 19, 2011

Just Whom Are We Kidding?!

If you get squirmy reading about "those things," you might want to skip this posting.

A lot has been written about the YU club newspaper which published a fictional piece the subject of which was premarital sex. The club has lost the University funding for its newspaper. People are gasping that anyone "frum" could write such a thing. After all, that kind of shmutzy sex doesn't happen in the frum world. For those who believe that, they aren't just wearing blinders--they've gone blind. Nothing like trying to sweep under the rug anything you don't want to have to admit happens--and has been happening for centuries.

Just why is it do you suppose that the old Yiddish of pre-war Europe had a word in it referring specifically to a child clearly conceived before its parents were officially married if premarital sex didn't exist back then? And yes, in chasidishe and yeshivishe and more modern communities. Such a child was called a "zibele," a seven-monther.

And if we are talking about hypocrisy and blindness and things that get published that "shouldn't" be published, how about an offering from one of the KosherKouponz providers. The Davida company advertises itself as purveyors of aprons, dish towels and the like. So imagine the 'fun" to be glancing through their offerings and smack dab in the middle of all those aprons and towels is a "faux fur jock strap," illustrated no less. Going to see any outrage? Not likely. We pick and choose whom we will skewer and what we will admit exists.

Good old Klal, with its "out of sight, out of mind" attitude.


JS said...

Couldn't agree more. I can't understand what the outrage is all about. Maybe it stems from the terrible writing style, which was more boring and dull than it was lurid or titillating. Next thing you know there will be an article about underage drinking and drug use that will send the masses into a tizzy.

Abba's Rantings said...

i have no problem with YU setting and enforcing its own standards

and thanks a lot for puting that image of the jockstrap in my mind

The Rebbetzin's Husband said...

Are you sure it's about pretending the deed isn't happening? Maybe the reaction is about not wanting to glamorize it...

tesyaa said...

RH, the article did not attribute much glamour to the act, and ended with the protagonist angst ridden, declaring "I made a big mistake".

If a Stern student wrote an article about eating chametz on Pesach or wearing an outfit containing a wool/linen blend, and expressed regret, would there have been such a reaction?

The Rebbetzin's Husband said...

Glamour is subjective; just having a public presentation of "I did it" does add glamour, particularly when dealing with collegiates.

Re: Your question - In my YU days, absolutely. The big thing back then was when college guys watched television on Shabbos in the dorms, and yes, there was a very big fuss when it appeared in the student newspaper.

Anonymous said...

Tesyaa- I think your question cuts both ways- do you think a student would bother to write about eating chametz on Pesach? Probably not, it doesn't have the same shock value as pre-marital sex.

ProfK- nobody thinks this stuff doesn't happen. However, that doesn't mean that YU should just sit back and be OK with their student newspapers giving platform to students who do engage in this behavior. They're an Orthodox institution, they're SUPPOSED to take a stand against it. Would we be complaining if this kind of fallout had happened at Bob Jones University? Of course not, we'd all be saying Duh! It's Bob Jones! That we don't think that when it comes to YU is actually kind of sad.

efrex said...

From the little that I've seen on this incident, I think YU and the Beacon handled things pretty much correctly. The YU administration has a right to withhold funding from a group that publicizes damaging information; that is not the same as head-in-sand or censorship.

Any general handwringing from the description itself (and I'm fully with JS on the poor quality of the writing in the article) is, naturally, completely out of place. Forget the yiddish terms for children born out of wedlock, one only has to read some of the late 19th/early 20th-century Yiddish stories (and the few historically honest Yeshiva biographies) to know that this was regularly going on. Heck, you can even find Talmudic stories of scholars engaging in pre-marital sex (we won't even mention Yehuda or David, since, as we've already established, real Yeshiva people don't read tanach...)

Miami Al said...

"They're an Orthodox institution, they're SUPPOSED to take a stand against it. Would we be complaining if this kind of fallout had happened at Bob Jones University? Of course not, we'd all be saying Duh! It's Bob Jones! That we don't think that when it comes to YU is actually kind of sad."

I think part of the problem is that "Orthodox" is a catch-all phrase for a group that isn't strictly observant. If you expect a large portion of graduates from Jewish Day Schools to go to YU, you're going to get a very wide variety of people.

Comparing YU to Bob Jones is someone unfair, given that the expectations of this subculture. There are plenty of "not fully" observant Orthodox Jews, and the expectations on those children is go to YU for grade 13.

In the case of Bob Jones, the environment is such that people not fitting that mold are discouraged from attending.

I think a more fair example than Bob Jones is BYU. For Mormons, particularly in Utah, there is NOT an expectation that everyone goes to BYU, plenty go to University of Utah, which also has a very Mormon population (Utah is DOMINATED by Mormons). Those not interested in being pious Mormons don't go to BYU. In fact, there was a case a few years back about a student @ BYU that left the campus, moved to Vegas, and was finishing their degree online, while engaged in behavior BYU didn't approve of and they withheld the degree. There was a big todo, but BYU didn't budge.

BYU is a less extreme case than Bob Jones, but it's a religious school, and expects religious standards.