Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Hidden Agenda

In her introduction Ms. Winston describes her conversation with Surie and Chanie. Two women who tell their tales of secrecy and pretense. What they failed to mention was that there are indeed many within the community that readily admit to doing and having what they deem to be socially unacceptable. And they do so without any fear of ‘retribution’. Many of us read a variety newspapers, magazines and best sellers, listen to radio, and have the internet. (although because of the temptation – most of us know to install some form of protection. Lest one finds the term ‘temptation’ amusing, I would like to point out that in spite of how alluring and universally rampant pornography may be, I doubt anyone would disagree with the statement that ‘porn cheapens sex.’ With intimacy between husband and wife being such a pivotal and sacred aspect of our family lives – we wish to take every measure to maintain its sanctity. The temptations go beyond explicit porn to chats, and the inevitable surfing that would lead to sites that could make one doubt one’s inherent belief. Not because one’s marriage or convictions are faulty, but because one’s fidelity and faith are delicate entities, and as such need not be put in positions of temptation. More on that some other time.)

In spite of many of us regularly utilizing these articles that are not particularly sanctioned by the community, few amongst us feel the need to ‘hide’ it. Being that within this enclave there are many diverse opinions, and some indeed share our own. To hide it would be to pretend to others that we aren’t who we truly are, thereby we are being unfair to our children, their perspective spouses, and ultimately to ourselves. Living a double life is not only difficult but ultimately detrimental.

Every society has people of different calibers. What increases their regard in the community is usually whatever that particular community admires. That being the case, those who wish to be seen as more respected members of society, and wish to have their children do ‘power matches’ - either live up to the expected ideals, or might hide behind a façade so that others don’t see their true colors. This (in particular) isn’t an issue of our society’s pressures to conform, rather it is that of some people’s individual desire to either maintain their ‘elite’ positions, or their attempts to alter the perceptions of themselves within the community by becoming one of the ‘holier’ ones.

Therefore, there are indeed those who do find the need to cover up window shades, and put their blockbuster or library bags, or even newspapers into nondescript black bags. These are usually those who’s family are of the aforementioned higher caliber and subsequently don’t want to upset / offend their family (more on this some other time), or they just don’t want others to know they have deviated for protocol because they wish to maintain the status they have inherited within the community (and the marriage proposals the said status ensures) – not because the community can’t accept their behavior.

The entire concept of shidduchim is a complicated one. Difficult to explain, while at the same time it isn’t an easy one to condone or condemn. I do plan to discuss it in detail at some later time, but as for how it applies to the topic at hand – I wanted to point out that when I mention marriage proposals, especially the ‘power matches’ I am simply referring to pedigree (and in some cases financial standing). The process is complex, and would certainly seem foreign, odd even, to an outsider.

We ask not that you agree, or even accept – we simply wish to imply that you can’t possibly understand – so we suggest that you therefore don’t judge.

17 Comments:

At November 08, 2005 8:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shietel, do you have the option of driving a car in willy? Do you have the option of not shaving your hair off, if there is no way to hide it under a snood? Does your typical satmara friend appreciate your brains and talants. Do they talk about much else besides for shopping, nursing clean, and the kids?
I grew up with you, who are you fooling?

 
At November 08, 2005 10:36 PM, Anonymous queensmaidel said...

S-if those who are hiding their behavior are only those who want "power" matches, then why aren't most people in Willy, etc. walking around OPENLY discussing books and magazines and TV shows?

 
At November 08, 2005 11:21 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

Queen - In great likelihood because they don't read it or watch it.

I am not denying that the community is a Yiddish speaking one with books and tapes in that language. What I am claiming is that there is no police that will ostracize us for reading a particular book or magazine.

As for anon - Yes to the driving and yes to the shaving - but why would I want to do either of that in this community? Contentment is way deeper than a thrill ride down Lee Avenue. As that could offend, it might be perceived as spite. But who would stop you from driving down a highway? As for the shaving... Does true contentment lie in your hair???? You complain about Williamsburg girls being shallow, yet you put so much worth in hair!

And I don't claim that many here do discuss anything more intelligent than their kids or the clothing they wear – the subject of any tight knit group tends to be the experience they share in life. Have you ever read a parenting magazine? All they discuss is just that. Childrearing and baby clothing and baby safety and baby health. Shallow and stupid? Even though I personally don't enjoy it, these are well researched topics and sought after opinions. As far as these women are concerned – who is to stop them from inquiring by their fellow experts?

I wasn’t gonna respond – because I know that this can go on forever… but being that I was bored – and it is my blog… why not?

 
At November 09, 2005 1:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All they discuss is just that. Childrearing and baby clothing and baby safety and baby health. Shallow and stupid? Even though I personally don't enjoy it, these are well researched topics and sought after opinions.

Sorry shietel but you are full of shit. I am a parent too, so who you fooling. Ok so driving don't give you contentment, and hair on your head is shallow.
You know what?
The hare-krishnas are living a great life to.
Why not? as long as they are content.

 
At November 09, 2005 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to the previous anonymous.....
what kind of life style IS kosher in your eyes, now that satmar and hari krishna are out?

 
At November 09, 2005 6:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might like the Mormons. They're very frum though not anti-zionist.

 
At November 10, 2005 12:23 PM, Blogger modern chassidish said...

Really, we don't know???
We do know.
We also know how the shidduch works.
Do you really think you will convince anyone that it is an esoteric process that Hella Winston can not grasp?
What is Hella's "agenda" besides doing a PHD dissertation?
Please prove to me that she lied in her research.
Go on prove it.

 
At November 10, 2005 1:22 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

Mod - I never intended to claim that Hella 'lied' in her research. She most certainly gave as honest a portrayal as she was capable of. She simply had a hard time relating to the whats and whys of our culture - thus misunderstaning and ultimately misrepresenting certain aspects.

As for how a shidduch works - it is still an evolving process with much room for improvement. It isn't something we can (or would even want to) negate. I plan to discuss it at some other time.

 
At November 10, 2005 1:29 PM, Anonymous chapzem said...

And what would you say to those of us who did grow up in Will. and agree with most of what she wrote?

 
At November 10, 2005 1:56 PM, Blogger modern chassidish said...

"She simply had a hard time relating to the whats and whys of our culture - thus misunderstaning and ultimately misrepresenting certain aspects"
Really??
She told over stories from those who lived in Wil and other places.
So, did she not report what she was told? Did she embellish it?

 
At November 10, 2005 2:37 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

Chapzem - then I truly feel bad for you. Give your own kids a better life.

Mod - I stand by my statement (and it sorta negates yours.)

 
At November 10, 2005 2:39 PM, Blogger modern chassidish said...

How so? enlighten us with your 145 IQ.

 
At November 10, 2005 2:50 PM, Anonymous chapzem said...

Chapzem - then I truly feel bad for you. Give your own kids a better life.
But that's the point. I can't stay in the community and be accepted for who I am. I can't even have my daughter wearing black tights on Shabbos without the neighbors snikering, "kik vie moderen zie iz gevoren.

 
At November 10, 2005 2:58 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

I don't know about that. I see black tights on Shabbos. Those that wish to wear it - can. If you want to 'fit in' more comfortably, then by all means - find a community with your ideals. You can't hold their ideals against them.

Regardless of where you live, you have to raise your kids to know right from wrong and to be proud of who they are - in spite of what others may say.

 
At November 16, 2005 2:05 PM, Anonymous Yoely said...

I suggest that you start editing your work - it's too mushy. Also, leave out all the legalistic terms, like "said status" or "aforementioned", it makes the reading boring and dry. You aren't writing here a legal brief, are you? And, you over-use the word "while".

Good luck...

 
At November 16, 2005 2:07 PM, Anonymous yoely said...

The title is "hidden agenda", care to tell us what the agenda is? You failed to mention that.

 
At December 01, 2005 7:37 PM, Anonymous chanie schwarts said...

its very puzzling to me how untrutfull or very very naive you are sheitel
i was in front of a parking lot in the poconos. and a car pulled up and asked if he can park there, he meant if he is allowd to park i told him in a joking matter ,try and see if you can
whats wrong with you sheitel is that you sound like me in the poconos of caurse you CAN but whats the consecuenses and more importently why the consecuenses
not every girl or women has the guts to do what they want (and of caurse we talk only whats allowd by torah law)and how about she wants to live in willi and go with black stocking for example and she does not want to have ppl grumbling behind her back so she should leave why ? why not exept her regurdless she is not doing anything wrong and b.t.w. this is how it starts for a runaway girl the little stupidity she wants is taken away from her and so on it goes
now to summerize to my hoech geshpritzte sheitel
the book is talking about the things she was told
and the things are real maybe its the pride of you that is being treatend
and for the argument that she is an outsider
first of all im an insider and theres enough books from insiders claiming the same

 

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