Frumgirl 1: Lost Sensitivity, Not Sensibility

Back in high school teachers launched into the typical rants against secular colleges. It was nothing new or original, I’m sure every bais yaakov-like institution does those so often and alike that everyone can still render one perfectly themselves on a moment’s notice. I suppose that was the point.

You are gong to lose it, they said, slowly but surely you’re going to go from a nice Bais Yaakov girl to something else. Your skirts will creep up a few inches, you necklines down. Language you never would have said otherwise will creep into your everyday vocabulary, just from being around its casual use. You are going to be, chas v’shalom, too friendly with males, and even goyim.

I was a quasi-intellectual-rebel teenager, determined to make her mind up for herself, so I decided not to believe them in the face of all the frum people in secular colleges that I knew. Frum people who appeared and acted the same after the dreaded outside exposure.

I spoke to my Mom about it. She never went to a secular college, but my father did. She recounted how my father started coming home with language she didn’t like from grad school but she only heard it on really rare occasions. I figured that consequences like that were hardly the dramafest my teachers described and completely dismissed the rants for overblown scare tactics.

Still, while my high schools teachers certainly had a way of adding that tragic! drama! to phenomenon that don’t deserve it, I suppose that doesn’t detract from the tiny kernel of truth you can sometimes find behind all the  earth-shattering catastrophe. Going through graduate school has moved my sensitivity marker down the scale a few notches.

I don’t cringe at the f-bomb anymore. I still don’t use it. Words like ‘h*ll’ and ‘sh*t’ creep out every once in a while. I never used to use these words, and I don’t like it that they’ve unconsciously entered my vocabulary. I suppose it was inevitable, given the daily usage I’m surrounded by, but I would have thought I’d notice right away when the creeping started.

On the other hand, my loss of sensitivity has been limited to language. My skirts are the same. My shirts are the same. I may have gotten a little more casual in dress overall, but that’s just because I don’t have to show my face at Touro anymore. The biggest area of static? My classmates have figured out the quickest and easiest way to make me blush scarlet: discuss anything pertaining to intimate matters in my hearing.

I’m married. It’s not like I’m embarrassed. My sensitivity to the privacy of the issue is just still on bais yaakov level, despite all my exposure’s conscious, concerted effort to the contrary.

I’ve drawn my conclusions about high school teachers a long time ago. Yes, there is some sensitivity loss. It is still only sensitivity. And there’s the constant measures of how much a frumgirl you really are inside, despite what kind of environment you end up in.

High school did a better job then they thought they did, in facilitating stronger standards instead of disallowing anything that might endanger them. Unless that was Seminary. On second thought, it probably was.

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Published in: on May 18, 2008 at 2:18 PM  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. maybe i am misunderstanding you but how can you say it is only a loss of sensibility when you admit to sometimes using S*** that is not just a loss of sensibility but actually saying inappropriate words that is nivul pe. I too am in graduate school and I understand the loss of sensitivity and I am not trying to criticize you. However, do not understate the transformation by saying it is only a loss of sensitivity.

  2. It’s okay, I don’t mind if you criticize me and I don’t feel criticized by anything you said.

    The words crept out while I wasn’t paying attention. If I catch myself in time, I stop it. My lack of perfect mouth-control is still the same that it always was, it’s just that the sort of things that slip out are different.

  3. After three or so months in a secular college, the only thing I’ve noticed different is that my hemline has climbed down… I brazenly wear a skirt past my ankle to college every day. Having bought a single article of clothing since beginning, I can’t say what sort of nasty effect it’s had on my dress overall. There are a few other small issues, but language, dress, and ideas of entertainment haven’t changed an iota.

  4. i agree with you in the loss of sensitivity, to language. i’m pleased that i haven’t started saying any of those words, but like you said, i don’t cringe anymore. although if a classmate talks to me and uses those words, i try not to have repeated conversations with them.

    another thing i’ve lost since high school is respect for the teachers. it doesn’t take alot to teach in a community college. and i don’t feel bad bad-mouthing them or giving them bad evaluations if i know they’re not jewish

  5. Hi. From what I see, if anything the far bigger loss of sensitivity in a secular college is the loss of sensitivty between men and women.
    Not that I’m a particularly good example of retained level of sensitivity in the area at all, but just a point….

  6. Good point about teachers – I do stuff in class I never did in high school… but it’s a different dynamic. At least, that’s my excuse. My classmates’ potty-mouths still make my hair curl, though. (More tightly, I mean.) Give me another semester. Between men and women – still a bit creeped out by those creatures we call men. I hang mostly with women, and so do many other women. They’re the achievers anyway.


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