Frumgirl 1: Unconscious Innuendo

I don’t like posting about things that frummies do in non-orthodox environments to make themselves look incredibly silly and perpetuate stereotypes. Regardless of how much they may make me wish we were not affiliated with each other, I generally don’t make a big deal about it. This particular issue, however, I feel is worth writing about.

Frummies are sheltered. I get that. Frummies have different standards of normalcy. Non-frummies get that. There are, however, limits to what can be considered venial offenses. Some things just go too far.

Now, I publicly call myself a frummie, but one that grew up with movies, (sometimes a TV,) and a voracious appetite for all types of books. Despite my film-like “exposure,” to public media, I have yet to develop into what’s called a guttermind. That’s the word I use for people who think about intimate matters with such regularity so as search through completely innocent comments for hints of innuendo. Despite the darkroom effect of grad school, I have gone no further towards becoming one. Either I mysteriously upgraded from analog to digital image capturing somewhere along the line or Bais Yaakov highly eggagerated matters on yet another aspect of the “outside world.”

Bais Yaakovs would have their girls think that all males, and especially non-orthodox males, are gutterminds of the worst sort. This, folks, is not true. Yes, I am sure. Some guys are, I’m not denying that, but some are definitely not. And guttermindedness is not restricted to the males half of the specie, some females are even worse.

Growing up sheltered and being placed into the company of gutterminds for the first time might excuse the occaisional mildly gutterable comment. It is NOT a condonation to use unwittingly blatant innuendo, or for what actually goes on.

Which happens. It happens so often and to such a degree that I am forced to wonder if some of it might not be intentional. No, I guess it can’t be. People really are that clueless.

It is best demonstrated by example. I am cringing and turning red merely typing this, but if I don’t is impossible to understand what I mean. And the severity and prevalence of its occurrence.

A frum classmate of mine has a sore throat. She changed her facebook status to read that she wishes for something hot in her throat. Except she used more adjectives, and worded it slightly differently. It was not pretty.

She was wishing for a tea, or chicken soup if she could get it. I know she meant it completely innocently. Her phrasing was…unfortunate. There was, in fact, no way to avoid the innuendo. No guttermindedness needed.

It gets worse.

I see and hear an appalling amount of…dare I say it? Not entirely straight intimations.

Every single day.

Completely innocent, and yet so, so…

Here’s an example: “slept with” is a standard Americans euphemism for “had relations with.” Frummie girls do usually know this (thankfully,) and are carefull not to use it in reference to separate-room-literal-sleep with males. Still, I hear that particular combination of words all the time in reference to literal comatose shuteye in the vicinity of other females.

Combine it with the Frummie girl tendency to stand too close to one another and have more physical contact than the usual straight American friendly population. And then they say things like “I slept with her for a year, but we fought a lot so I moved out,” about seminary roommates while resting on another frummie girl’s lap.

Yes, it gets even worse.

I don’t care how sheltered you might be. Some things just don’t fly in public.

If Bais Yaakov girls are going out into the world so socially clueless, I hope the Frum educational administration knows it. I hope they know that there are non-gutterminded people out there who assume all frumgirls are lesbian because of it.

It bothers me exceedingly.

Published in: on September 24, 2008 at 10:15 PM  Comments (13)  

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  1. I think some of the problem with the “slept with” comment is a failure of education, but not the way you mean it. “I slept with her” is NOT a grammatically correct way to say “she was my roommate.” I think it’s probably related to Yiddish–how far off is it from “I slept BY her”? People need to learn to speak correctly, for all kinds of reasons.

  2. ooooh boy- wow do i have a lot to say here!!!! but a lot of it i probably shouldnt say, so ill just say this:

    im not sure if we can use “guttermind” and “pervert” interchangeably, but i will in this case. i think we were taught right! ALL guys are perverts. no matter what. some more than others, but they all are. they think abt sex a lot! and yes, A LOT of girls are too. not as many as guys, but a whole bunch of em.

    the “real world” is mainly focused on sex. so everything that anyone does or says, can be linked to something sexual. very sad but true. frum girls werent brought up like that in the least bit, so they dont know any better.

    this is kinda off the topic but i just wanted to make this point since u touched on it- in my opinion, all girls are bisexual to some level. this doesn’t mean girls are hooking up with each other, but there are soooo many stories of girls “experimenting”. we’re comfortable being really touchy with other and sitting on each others laps (like u said), and not grossed out when we see naked women. wtvr… just thought id throw that really inappropriate comment out there… sorry for being controversial.

  3. oy i just realized how bad that makes me look- especially after i wrote a post abt my jessica alba obsession hahahaha

    I AM NOT LESBIAN!!!!!!

  4. Katrina has a good point. On the other hand, your post opens up a whole other can of worms–Is it really a good idea for Jews to segregate themselves so much from the rest of the world for a certain time of their lives–when eventually, they will be forced to interact with the outside, non-frummie world?

  5. One thing I’ve noticed on BBC messageboards – some people will turn anything you say into innuendo, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Especially when there’s a world of slang you don’t know. So to a certain extent, if you hang with the wrong crowd, you’re going to trip up. Heck, they trip each other up.

    I had such an incident just earlier this week, actually. I was explaining to a club president that he shouldn’t be doing all the work himself, and that he should delegate some of it to his vice president, who happens to be me. “I can do that stuff too,” I said. “Can you?” he asked. “Try me,” I replied, regretting it about as soon as I said it.

    So what are you suggesting? Crash courses in gutter slang? Classes on unfortunately off-limit phrasing? Maybe a list of words to never use, and others to be careful about context? Practically speaking…? I mean seriously – how would you explain to a bais yaakov maidel who wants something hot in her throat what exactly it sounds like she’s saying?

  6. Nikki:
    That’s actually one of the main themes of this blog. Should there be so much culture shock when frummies meet the world?

    For sure, some culture shock is definitely inevitable. The attitude of outlawing anything that is not strictly Jewish from frummie homes is making it much more painful than in needs to be, though.

    I happen to be a staunch critic of the frummie war on media. I think it breeds ignorance to an unacceptable extent. It makes surviving in the real world unnecessarily difficult. And exposure to said media happens eventually, anyway, so by denying frummie kids any exposure at all, by they neglect to teach safe usage habits, it is only worse later on.

    The girl with the facebook status? The non-orthodox guys in my class teased her about it endlessly and explained, what exactly, she had said. Which is much, much worse than if she had known not to write it in the first place.

  7. Frumgirl 4: I am suggesting easing up on the sweeping outside-world ban so people are not quite so clueless.

  8. I used to be the clueless one when I went to college, but I still knew some stuff. Some things just give you a feeling that they don’t sound right even if you don’t know why.

    A seminary teacher/Rabbi once gave us a list of words we shouldn’t be using. He said you shouldn’t say the word “suck” as in “you suck” that it is a bad word. I’m sure some people didn’t realize why it was bad, so they just continue to say it because everyone does.

    The question becomes is it better for the girls to be all innocent and do whatever they wish without realizing what people can think of it? or is it better that they get a “education” and then every time somebody does something innocent they all of a sudden think of it in a certain way?

    In elementary school there were girls who would do things that made them look very lesbo, but they had no clue. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew that it didn’t look right, so I looked at them in a weird way. But perhaps it would have been better if I hadn’t known there was such a thing from watching Will and Grace, then I would have been able to see them regularly and not as weird. Although I knew they weren’t doing anything crazy.

  9. Also “screwed.” My dear bais yaakov sister used it twice yesterday. I’ll have to explain the problem to her someday soon.

    I don’t think you need to watch Will and Grace (whoever they are) to know when something is borderline. But a tad more exposure might not be that bad a thing for someone who is entering the big wide world. But, there being plenty of girls who never enter the big wide world, it’s not like it can be an exposure sanctioned by the institution. Maybe any girl who intends to be out and about should self-educate. After all, which is worse: knowing eighteen euphemisms for sex, or inadvertently spewing them in conversation?

  10. I agree that a bit more of exposure is not a bad thing. But I think it is really up to parents, not to the schools. Anyway, no matter which way the schools try to go about it, they are hardly likely to please anybody.
    I didn’t watch much television growing up, but we always had newspapers/magazines around (pre-Hamodia and the Yated as we know them today)and since I was a voracious reader, I guess I got my “education” that way. My parents certainly weren’t going to educate me…which is a trap I think so many parents in the frum world run into. They think that by blocking absolutely everything that could have anything to do with sex they can create a sort of 1950’s bubble for their kdis to grow up in; also that their kids will somehow magically transform into knowledgeable adults at about the time they are old enough to marry (say 19 or so…) but without actually providing any sort of transition for them.
    I remember cringing a bit not so long ago,standing behind a frum man and his teenage daughter at the local public library recently–he asked his daughter why she wasn’t getting any books out, and she said (very loudly), “Oh, Mommy likes to check over any books before I read them, because one time I got out a book that had a lot of kissing in it.”

  11. lol – I read a few books with more than just kissing in them before I learned to censor my own books. had no idea why the characters were doing those things until someone explained it in camp. If it werent for camp and the public library, I would be perfectly innocent. imho, a very sad possibility.

  12. I also was SOOO sheltered when I was a kid, and now being out in the real world is hard. There were actually times when I said things that weren’t proper English (thanks to my being hasidic) (usually idioms) that would cause one coworker to give me a weird smile, other people to correct me…But thank G-d for the library books I read when I was a kid because those helped me a lot when it came to understanding coworkers’ jokes. I think it’s stupid that all Bais Yaakovs shelter their students so much but on the other hand, if the kids don’t mind being in a bubble, why should it be busted? I have a neighbor who’s 22, single, and loves being in that bubble. (She works in a preschool as an assistant and bakes cookies in the evening–fascinating life!) Also, on her own she rebuffs my efforts to attend college even though I could hear her mom speaking when she says: College is out of the question. I think every person should consciously choose for themselves how exposed they want to be.

  13. This post made me laugh. I can fully empathize with what was going – I went through the same experience in Israel, learning that certain phrases were off limits. Like never saying “Do you know person x” as אתה יודע…”

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