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Life Arts

Socialized into Subservience

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Mary Wentworth       (Page 4 of 7 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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"English acts like a slow poison to the soul. If I speak and read it too much, my soul will become tarnished to the point that it is no longer responsive to divine stimulation." [P.89]


New York state requires that English classes be held in the private Satmar school that all girls attend. However, the short stories brought into the school by English teachers from the outside are redacted by the school censor, blacking out any sentiments that might "tarnish" Satmar beliefs. Even the word "college" is blacked out since post-secondary education is viewed as a waste of resources. The students actually know so little English that even when in high school they can not read the language more proficiently than a fourth grader. This taboo also makes the local public library off-limits for all Satmars. [Pp.91, 89]

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The girls spend the first hour of each day repeating prayers. At other times they listen to their teachers' instructions on how to be faithful Satmars. [P.87]


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During a male cousin's visit of several months, Zeidy asked Deborah if she knew the rules about being with men. Feldman's response:


"We learned some of them, sure. I know a girl can't be on her own in a room with a man, even if there are other women there, too. She can be on her own with two or more men. You have to leave the door unlocked if you ever end up in a situation with a man. No touching. No singing, of course." [P.65]


Since modesty was a key objective, it was the topic for daily lectures:


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"Every time a man catches a glimpse of any part of your body that the Torah says should be covered, he is sinning. But worse, you have caused him to sin. It is you who will bear the responsibility for his sin on Judgment Day." [P.36]

A critical feature in patriarchal societies is not only forcing women to bear the burden of complying with outrageous restrictions, but having to pay the penalty when men transgress. Miles notes:


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Now retired and a writer, I am a feminist and political activist, a radical Democrat (have come to dislike the term "progressive"), and a blogger. Have done political tours of Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, West and East (way back when)Germany, (more...)

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