Sunday, March 2, 2008

How I know my HS was a brainwashing factory

The following did not come out as well as I had hoped...Oh well:

High School was definitely a brainwashing factory. There is no way that place conveniently got stuck in my subconscious without any "professional" effort involved.

When I was in 11th grade my classmates and I were having a discussion on kollel at the shul (where we had lunch) and in entered a classmate and close friend of ours Ariella (name changed to protect identity). Ariella joined into our conversation and said "How could you guys not want learners, do you want your husbands to abuse you?"After the initial shock wore off we all attacked her. We argued "Ariella, just because a guy is a full-time learner doesn't mean he has less chances of beating his wife." To that she had nothing to answer but "Kollel husbands learn how to treat their wives properly by learning Torah, the other guys do not learn such things." So we replied with "Yes, but guys that work and learn as well, treat their wives just as nicely. Guys with morals, without Torah, do so as well." Conversation ended there.

Also, once in 9th grade, I brought in my 8th grade year book from public school. A bunch of my new friends surrounded it so that I can show them my crush (this was during lunch, so no teachers around). A few girls that were on the "frummer" side also wanted to take a look, and one girl said "wow, that's so scary, did you like, ever see a gun?" I had no idea what to answer her, but I said "no, that's not as common as you'd like to think"

Then of course there was the time I said something that was obviously right out of frumville but thank goodness I was able to yell at myself after that!

Anyway, if you think these situations are just "coincidences" I urge you to think otherwise. I assure you that my school (as well as many B"Y) really do brainwash people. Here are the ways I think they get us.

Firstly, my HS had uniform. Uniforms as convenient as they are in preventing peer pressure, and the "I have nothing to wear" stress of the mornings, are really just a tool used to conform all the girls, especially true of the HS I went too.

Our HS did not just have a uniform in which we had to wear a specific blouse and a specific skirt, but we had a SPECIFIC rule for which COLOR socks and shoes we can wear. We also were not allowed to wear any "loud" jewelry or dangly earrings. Nor were we allowed to wear our hair down. We had to have our shirts tucked in. In the winter we were not allowed to wear boots once inside the school. The uniform was strict as well as strictly enforced.

"What you choose to wear says something about who you are"
After years of wearing a uniform in elementary school (like most girls had done prior to entering HS) plus the even stricter uniform of HS leaves little room for individuality, or the ability to have it really reflect "who you are", in fact, the reverse usually happens, in that the girls tend to change themselves and reflect what the uniform wants them to be. And that is why they have cases of girls believing their husbands will beat them if they do not learn full-time (which is a symbol of conformity in today's society).

One of the years that I was in the school 2 girls got kicked out because they were caught, in Florida, on a beach wearing bikini's. Basically, not only do the girls have to abide by uniform while they are in it (which even I cannot argue that) but they have too when they are hundreds of miles away, in a different state. I understand if they wore bikini's made out of the same pattern as our uniform skirt was. But this is ridiculous. This is the extent of the control.

Aside from the strictness of uniform, I believe the narrow-mindedness applied when hiring faculty shows the brainwashing of the school.

The school did not allow any non-frum teachers. They did not allow any teachers to be "more modern" than that of the school. Often times in class we would discuss chulent recipes, and dating, and "views on pledge of allegiance" with teachers that taught secular subjects!! Its like , fine, when learning halacha we can discuss shabbos recipes, but with the math, history, or science teachers, is that normal? Ofcourse, because your entire school teaches that if you do not eat gefilte fish, its "bad for shidduchim" if you do not conform, your kids will be more likely to go off the derech. Its almost like they care more about their stupid pettiness than they do about TRUE Judaism. Its like, they somehow care more about the ridiculous baseless chumras and minhaggim then they do common sense, truth, and happiness. You want your kid to be a dumb idiot, or allow him to decide for himself? How likely is it that a BY teacher will tell you "decide for himself?"

Oh. Then there's the time my teacher told me that I was too stubborn to be able to get married. So I was like "no, I'm just too stubborn for the average guy, but I don't want average. I want a guy that is argumentative and wouldn't mind an argument or two himself." And she says "Guys like that do not want to argue with girls" Now, aside from the fact that LITERALLY my entire family is loud, stubborn, and argumentative, I found that hard to believe, because they're all married (rather interesting marriages, but lasting). But my teacher was literally telling me that guys don't like stubbornness, and girls have to be "calm, nice, agreeable, etc." (Many girls attacked her for this, but I forgot what traits she got them on). She literally believed this, and a few of my personal friends literally kept their mouths shut while dating because they feared the guy would not want them. (one friend had an entire dream of being a stay-at-home mom, once married she's going for a masters because "he wants me to work", I asked if she even discussed it on dates, and she says "it didn't come up" I find that hard to believe that career goals NEVER found a way into any of their convo's).

Also, there's the time they planned a Lakewood shabbaton (I did not go, I am terribly anti this kollel nonsense), but that Monday the girls came back singing "We can, We can, We Can, We can support our men" And ofcourse they all agree to become professionals, mothers, caretakers (aka slaves) in the name of "Torah learning"

If uniform in clothing, and uniform in faculty don't do it, I don't know what does. But my school definitely brainwashed us. And all that stuff above is just my speculation on how.


Lvnsm27 said...

Sorry about your experience. Uniforms and teachers can be a pain sometimes

Jessica said...

Your school really really sucked, but don't think that all BY's are like this. A majority of the BY's outside of NY are not. The BY that I went to had a uniform and they claimed we were only allowed to wear certain socks, jewelery and sweaters, but if we wore something different they usually let it slide as long as we weren't a bad kid. And I don't mean bad kid in the sense that they have a tv in their house, I mean bad kid as in they're just really a bad kid (disrupt class, show attitude to everyone, etc etc -- and I don't mean someone who's "stubborn and argumentative"). As for out of school, of course they'd prefer that we didn't hang out with guys or go see a movie, etc, but if they caught us doing that they didn't say anything. The only person that I know of who got kicked out of my high school was because he got drunk on shabbas, passed out on the front lawn of the school and slept there that night. It was on their property, so they had every right to. I stated my point a while ago, but I just want to reiterate -- BYs outside of NY are VERY different than the ones in it. They're not all that terrible.

Jersey said...

I loved the post. Here are some pretty awesome nuggets from my HS experience:

In 12th grade, my friend asked my rebbe about girls (since that had not been brought up even once in the previous three years), and the next day, my rebbe decided to teach us about girls and sex. He brought us a photocopy of a sefer that said "it doesn't make sense to like girls" (for reasons I won't get into), and that if we found ourselves thinking about girls, we should run to the bookshelf and pull out a sefer.

How about this dandy little quote from my rosh yeshiva: "It is better to daven without a minyan than to daven without a black hat."

And of course, there were my classmates who told me that if (not when, if) I go to college, I should not go to YU, because college is bad, but at least if I go to a non-Jewish college, I'll KNOW I'm doing the wrong thing.

I have other stories, but I think my comment is getting too long. Again, great post.

frummy and proud of it :) said...

yay I <3 new posts so I figured I'd comment...
Abt the bikinis...I don't think it's the bikinis themselves that were the problem, rather the whole idea of being able to go out in public scantily dressed which completely contradicts the school's philosophy. Your HS (at least the "regular" part) wasn't trying to be mekarev their girls. They expected their girls to have certain standards of dress, activities, speech, etc. Most, if not all BY HS's are like that, mine included. And if a girl does not have the appropriate standards, then they don't believe she is right for the school. I don't know about you, but that makes sense to me. Like, let's say, I have a friend in a very BY school who I think would be more appropriate in a more Shulamis-type environment. It's not saying something bad abt her. She just has different standards than the school.
Oh and btw, many of these rather shallowminded comments (like the abuse one) come from the home, not necessarily the school. These kids are probably exposed to such things from their parents in an attempt to keep them on the "right derech". I'm not saying I agree with them; I've heard many stupid things said, but I just want you to realize it doesn't all come from the school. It may also come from gross generalizations on the part of the kid. In your Ariella story, it's very possible that she's not exposed to many guys who work, and in the few that do, she knows of horrible marital issues, including abuse.
Just saying...
You can argue it out with me later :)

"Now, aside from the fact that LITERALLY my entire family is loud, stubborn, and argumentative,"
:D :D :D :D

Yehudi Hilchati said...

You're 100% right. Sounds like brainwashing to me.

Marry a kollel guy so you won't get beaten???? I have never heard such ignorant, self serving nonsense in all my life.

How did you end up in this school anyway? Did your whole family become frum or did you decide yourself and ask your parents to send you to a frum school? And why to SUCH a frum school?

frumskeptic said...

Jersey: OY! "it doesn't make sense to like girls"
IN 12th grade!!!!!!! OYY!!! I mean, it would've been ridiculous in 7th grade, but in 12th its just unexplainably ridiculous! WOW!

"It is better to daven without a minyan than to daven without a black hat." OY!! Where do they come off saying stuff like that?

Yehudi: My entire family became frum, well kinda, when I was in 8th grade, so I needed a school to go to. I tried for a few modern schools, but they were all stuck up because my hebrew was awful. So one school wouldnt except me at all because of that, another said that they would make me retake all my 9th grade secular classes (I had 4/5 9th grade classes complete), and another school was supposedly not as good, so my Rabbi decided this school would be perfect. So... I got suckered into it, was so naive going in also. I thought the girls would be so nice and friendly, and so smart. nope, just like anywhere else.

Jessica said...

I was just reading your reply to Yehudi about applying to a more modern school and the exact same thing happened to me. My family became frum when I was in 5th grade and we looked into two schools (there are only 3 frum school in my city and one was definitely not for me). The first school was the more modern one and they claimed that they didn't offer tutoring for Hebrew (which I found out from friends who went to that school is a complete and total lie -- they just didn't want to have to deal with tutoring someone so far behind). The other school I applied to was a BY and they accepted me with open arms. I was mainstreamed right away, but I skipped navi class for my first two years in order to go to tutoring. And as for my class, I guess it was not like "anywhere else" because a majority of my class was very smart and all of them were very nice as well.

cherevshachar said...

Hope you forgive me - I'm going to quote myself: (From something I posted elsewhere)-

...The Rabbis then have the troublesome task of shutting off the mind. Sticking their fingers in their ears – and yours - with eyes tight-shut, and repeating “It aint so, we're right!, it aint so, we're right!” over and over again, until this self-hypnotic mantra disguises the truth they will not acknowledge: their accustomed way of life has an ugly underbelly, and flaws, and in this resembles many others.

There are other viable ways of life, some with equal moral stature, and their own rituals can be just as ridiculous as those they mock. Then there are those pesky agnostics and atheists, who
live good lives, with morals, ethics, - and freedom.

Think: if they were really sure of themselves, why would they fear this open exchange of ideas?

Of course, Chazal have the authority to do this. How do we know? Because Chazal say so.
And how do we know they can say so? Because of sources in the Torah, giving them this Divine Right. And how do we know that these sources really intend this interpretation? Because Chazal say so. And how do we know they can interpret the sources this way? Why, because the Torah says....

Under "Circular Reasoning, see: 'Reasoning, Circular'." Again.

Nice blog, BTW. Much enjoyed reading it - nice to know not everyone is Asleep.


Moshe said...

Regarding working wives and learning husbands, wives are supposed to work but college is evil and if you go there you go off the derech. So how are you supposed to work and earn enough to support a family then?

I was 1 year in public school, 3 years in Sinai Academy and 3 year in Chaim Berlin. I was put into a ba'al teshuva class for all 3 years, let's make sure those ba'al teshuvas not influence our frum kids. If you go to pizza across the street, you get kicked out. The "rabbi" who taught us, got us signed up for a gov't program that gives money for after school programs. Told us we gonna get the money, kept all of it except the last check. Another rabbi, to the question of whether a frum cop can carry a gun on shabbat said that Jews not supposed to touch guns no matter what they do. Huh?! Computer teach knew as much about computers as a secretary. The plus was since we were kept separate except for secular classes, they didn't care as much about what we did.

I'm hypocrite though. Gonna send my kid there since it's the lesser evil and my friends sending their kids there too.

frumskeptic said...

moshe: I tutored a few kids that went to Chaim Berlin. I was actually very impressed with how organized the school was. So if it makes you feel any better, the school seems to be really good.

Just on the side, I'm naive enough to think I'll be homeschoolng. I can dream can't I?

Moshe said...

You not gonna have enough time and very bad idea if you want your kids going to college.