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.