Frumgirl 4: Punk and Pak

FrumPunk’s comment in “so you want to be a blogger” about frum students marveling over befriending Muslim classmates left me feeling left out. I have not befriended a single Muslim.

Ironically, it’s not for lack of trying. The gaggle of Pakistani Muslim girls in my class were the first to whom I made overtures of friendship. It seemed logical to me that they’d be used to the same style of society that I was, and we’d therefore have something in common.

The problem is, most of them are of the wannabe off-the-derechnik type, and I’ve never really enjoyed the same pastimes as the people in that demographic.

Don’t get me wrong – I read Seventeen and Cosmogirl in my early teen summers, and I remember when Jason of N’Sync (or was it 98 Degrees?) wore a skirt on stage, but it was never more than an anthropological interest. I read about celebrities like I read the plaque outside the cages in a zoo. I follow styles from a distance, with raised eyebrows. I think of makeup as a utility, not a hobby. I don’t live vicariously through other people’s hairy dating stories. And so on.

A friend of mine from summer camp didn’t either get the whole deal and used to join the magazine flippers in their daily flip-and-squeal armed with a National Geographic. Whenever one of them would squeal “Oh he’s sooo cute,” and all the others would rush to see whose picture she was looking at, my friend would also squeal “He’s sooo cute,” and bring them rushing to her – where she’d be gazing adoringly at a koala bear.

Sitting in a club office working on business, with a bunch of Pakkies behind me comparing their Pollywood (or whatever they call their star scene down there) crushes on YouTube, I was temped, very tempted, to dig up the video of the sneezing panda baby and give a few infatuated sighs over it. But that’s not my style. Instead I just wondered why they hadn’t grown out of this type of thing already.

In contrast, the religious Muslim girls are quite sweet. There used to be three, but the one in my year seems to have dropped out; maybe she got married. Anyway, the other two aren’t in any of my classes, and they tend to surround themselves with others of their culture, even when they’re “off the derech” (maybe they want to do kiruv?). Both are exceptionally nice to me when we meet-up (just because I’m Jewish? Very likely), but that isn’t frequently. And that, FrumPunk, is why this Frumgirl can’t brag of having any Muslim friends.

I feel truly deprived.

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Published in: on November 24, 2008 at 4:36 PM  Comments (12)  

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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. im friends with an indian girl at college! does that count?

  2. There weren’t any Muslims where I grew up, but I can attest to having a friend (at some point in my life) from nearly every kind of Church, and be able to tell you the differences. Even Mormons, which are the most unusual, to my way of thinking. I also knew a Wiccan in HS, and one of my goyishe relatives worships fairies (really!).
    DH and I drove through Utah once and stopped in Salt Lake to stock up on granola bars and drinks for the trip. We couldn’t go 50 feet without someone trying to get us to come to something Mormon. Turns out Jews go straight to the top in their belief and take along the person who converted them. We got out of there so fast!

  3. I’m truly sorry. In my case it was the Muslims who came to me first, marveling at the sight of a real, live Hebrew.
    Most of the Muslims I’ve known were slightly off the derech though. The truly religious ones didn’t seem so friendly.

  4. The religious guys freak me out a bit. Two of them behind me were listing which nationalities they hate the most in descending order.

  5. I don’t think those girls were “wannabe-off-the-derech”. They just probably don’t come from religious backgrounds, and are most likely secular Muslims.

  6. Perhaps you don’t realize this, but “Paki” is an extremely offensive term. Then again, this blog seems all over all kinds of ethnic slurs, since you have also used “Chinaman” without any remorse. But seriously, using language like that, you come across as majorly racist.

  7. Random reader:

    It is the policy of this blog to be as unoffensive as possible without going into the realm of bending over backwards.

    There was no intentional pejorative intent with either term used, though their use was uninformed.

    While editing will be more stringent in the future, editing the terms out of existing posts would be pointless.

  8. “Paki” must be pejorative like “Jew” is pejorative; I’ve noticed that some people lower their voice before using the latter term, though I use it all the time. Similarly, Pakistanis use the former quite freely, clearly without being aware that they’re insulting themselves.

    Why do I think they’re “wannabe-off-the-derech”? Probably because of their air of cultural desperation which you don’t find among those who wear the native culture naturally.

  9. “Paki” must be pejorative like “Jew” is pejorative; I’ve noticed that some people lower their voice before using the latter term, though I use it all the time. Similarly, Pakistanis use the former quite freely, clearly without being aware that they’re insulting themselves.

    Why do I think they’re “wannabe-off-the-derech”? Probably because of their air of cultural desperation which you don’t find among those who wear the native culture naturally.

  10. Paki is way more pejorative than the term “Jew.” Sure, Pakistani people might use it amongst each other, but there are other ethnic slurs that the ethnic group they’re directed at can use, and if other people were to use it, it would be racist. This is due in part to people disagreeing about whether or not to “reclaim” the term for their own.

    In your shoes, I’d be more concerned about what kind of face you’re putting on your (collective) religion and upbringing by using racist terms on your blog. While I appreciate that the use might have been “uninformed,” perhaps you should refer back to the earlier blog posts about how overly sheltered frum girls can say really embarrassing things as a result of their shelteredness. This seems like a case in point. A little diligence would go a long way. Perhaps a good policy would be to do a quick google search any time you are planning on using a descriptive term for an ethnic group.

  11. Also, by collective, I was just referring to the fact that this blog apparently has multiple contributors.

  12. Why do I think they’re “wannabe-off-the-derech”? Probably because of their air of cultural desperation which you don’t find among those who wear the native culture naturally.

    And they keep Ramadan. Sort of. Anyway, they discuss keeping it, and sometimes keep it, and sometimes don’t keep it.


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