Crisis Alert: Bar Mitzvah Sluts

 

There is a new menace threatening the pubescent Jews of America. The Bar Mitzvah Sluts are coming for your children and we must stop them.

What is a Bar Mitzvah Slut™? It is an otherwise normal young Jewish girl who, for the year or so when they are attending bar mitzvahs almost every weekend, gets her first taste of what it will be like to go party as an adult (or, more realistically, a 16-year-old). She shows up in a dress of somewhat reasonable length, maybe knee or mid-thigh, and once her mom’s SUV has pulled away she immediately hikes it up to vagina height. Yes, if you are standing behind her in line for the mini falafels during cocktail hour, you will see her Kiddush cup.

The BMS will dance to whatever top 40 club-ready hits are currently assaulting our ears on the radio, she and her Bar Mitzvah Slut friends standing in a circle doing dance moves that they stole from a rap video and practiced in their bedroom while they stuffed animals they still sleep with watched in horror. The BMS will flirt with the thirteen year old boys in attendance, who are still at the stage where the only way they know how to get a girls attention is to throw the glow bracelets the dancers have handed out at the BMS (she will complain to her friends while secretly loving the attention). Once the party is over, the BMS will wait at the curb for her mom to pick her up, frantically tugging her skirt down to a semi-appropriate length once more.

Let me add, I am a young person who lives in a major metropolitan city and frequents places like clubs, bars, music/fashion/industry events, and these Bar Mitzvah sluts are STILL the most whorishly dressed people I’ve seen in recent memory. I am friends with grown ass women who are ACTUAL SLUTS, who pop Plan B like Mentos, and they look less like a stripper named Dominique Crystal Dynasty than these JAPs.

And why do they all have to take their shoes off? If you’re going to wear stripper heels, at least have the tenacity and endurance to keep them on for a few hours. If you’re “mature” enough to wear a dress that your vagina is practically eating you can keep the damn shoes on too. Where are we, the Shire?

Who is to blame for the Bar Mizvah Slut? Ke$ha, Lindsay Lohan, the entire cast of Gossip Girl. Bar mitzvah party planners who make the “kids” section of the party look like a club, not an ACTUAL club, but a club that would be on a soap opera or and episode of Pretty Little Liars (which I swear I have never actually watched…). And most of all, parents. You bought them the dress (or gave them the credit card they used to purchase it), you bought them the six inch heels, you were emotionally unavailable enough that they need to look for attention from a thirteen-year-old boy with terrible acne and a huge nose. For shame! Lock it up!

What do you think?

About The Author

Mark Dommu

Heeb's Culture Editor is a writer and performance artist living in Brooklyn and the reigning ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ trivia champion of NYC. Mark created, writes and stars in ‘I Give Good Hebrew’ and is the Editor-in-Chief of The Culture Whore , which curates and celebrates the best art being made in Brooklyn/NYC and around the world.

43 Responses

  1. Masha

    I’m a bit disturbed by the fact that you find it OK to refer to 13/14 year old girls as “sluts”. As you pointed out, these are actual kids who are getting a slight taste of what it’s like to “party” in a somewhat setting that is more “adult” if you will. The whole “dressing like a slut, acting like a slut” Actually is we live in a culture that is filled with sex. And yet, we also live in a culture that is sex negative. Mixed messages galore.

    In terms of sticking to the topic you present. You are talking about little girls, girls who are growing into women. Who do not need to fear the fact they might become “The Slut”. What you are doing is “slut shamming” at it’s best. Why not actually encourage these girls to know, they’re in the age to understand their body is theirs, to know they have a right to be proud of that body. And that they don’t NEED to try to be “ke$ha” or to sexualize themselves to appeal to the masses.

    I just find it odd that we need to shame women/girls. That somehow these girls should be ashamed of themselves for just trying to fit the image they are bombarded with everyday, that tells them “if you want boys to like you, do this/be that” And that a grown man can say things like that, is what bothers me the most.

    I’d rather our future know that they can be confident, they don’t need to seek approval. That they understand sex is not something to be ashamed of, it’s to enjoy responsibly as an adult.

    Reply
  2. Mark Dommu
    Mark Dommu

    Thank you so much for your comments, Masha!

    While I was mostly trying to write something funny and entertaining, this does bring up some interesting thoughts.

    I DO think that young girls should be proud of their bodies, especially at an age where they are dealing with so much change/insecurity. But teenage girls DO know the difference between being appropriate and dressing like a trashy trailer park prostitue. If you want to go out with your friends (to the mall, I guess?) and wear something that shows of your body, well that’s your choice (and your parents’ choice to let you out of the house like that). But to come to a synagogue dressed in a skirt that barely covers your ass? I just don’t think that is ok.

    Also, there are many things a girl can wear that show off her body and make her feel sexy and confident without being wildly inappropriate. And as for calling 13/14 year old girls sluts…if they think they’re mature enough to dress like them, they should be mature enough to handle being called out on it.

    Reply
  3. Betzalah Fistel

    I agree with Mark and, I have attended a livingroom-synagogue. It’s called a “shteeble”.

    Reply
  4. Rabbi Alana Suskin

    Mark, what you wrote was not entertaining, nor funny. 13 year olds, especially 13 year old girls, are still essentially children and are experimenting with who they will be. For you to call them “sluts” and JAPs” is terribly offensive – and helps to perpetuate the kind of culture that causes girls like Amanda Todd to harm themselves. Do you understand what the words you are using mean when girls hear them? When you refer to a 13 year old as a slut, you are claiming that she is having indiscriminate sex with multiple people – that is what “slut” means. It is not only statistically unlikely, if it happens to be true, most likely it is something to which she has been coerced or abused into doing.
    Second, calling someone a “JAP” is not only misogynistic, but also perpetuates anti-semitic stereotypes. Do you really believe that a 13 year old girl who is dressed improperly for shul is deeply materialistic? because she’s wearing a skirt that you deem to be “too short” or heels you think are too high? remember we are talking about 7th graders. Many of them haven’t menstruated yet.

    As a woman and a rabbi, I want you to really think about what you are saying here. I’m guessing that you are in your early to mid-twenties given your bio. I encourage you to go and meet some families that have girls this age and see what they are like – it’s probably been a while since you’ve been around middle-school girls. Many of them still sleep with stuffed animals, and play, as in with toys. they are vulnerable and sensitive, and your language over-sexualizes them – far more so than their inappropriate dress.

    Finally, I want to point out that your piece simply fails to take notice of how boys – probably slightly older boys, in this case – help to encourage this form of dress, and how our society insists that this is the only way to be attractive, while simultaneously punishing girls when they try to live up to the standards thus set. It’s sad, but your language does not improve the situation.

    Reply
  5. Country Kibitzer

    My friends and I in a mid-sized Southern city are finding this article hilarious. We’re making a pact to call one another if we see a daughter at a Bar Mitzvah party with a hemline closer to her crotch than her knees. I’ll have no problem showing up at a party and hauling my kid home and she’ll be forwarned.

    Reply
  6. Country Kibitzer

    Rabbi Suskin, I think this should be a wake-up article for parents who don’t give their children clear guidelines for behavior. There was a similar, but much less amusing article in the New York Times the other day about how behavior at synagogue and at Bar Mitzvah parties has gotten out of control because of lack of parental example and supervision. We live don’t live in a big metropolitan area and people in the South tend to dress a little more conservatively, but I see girls coming to synagogue in skirts that they shouldn’t be wearing to a mall. There is no excuse for this. The rabbis and religious school directors should be taking a stand. The boys also have their behavior issues that should be addresses. The last party I went to the boys were all over the place, leaving the party and, running out onto the golf course. Enough!

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  7. Andrew

    I was going to comment but I really can’t do better than what Rabbi Suskin said.

    Reply
  8. Rabbi Alana Suskin

    Country: This is not an article to wake parents up – it’s an article to shame little girls who are just thinking about their budding sexuality. Believe me, the parents are aware – many of them are despondent about the culture we live in and the limited clothing choices for girls (even younger girls – I have a friend who despaired when shopping for her then 9 year old, because they clothing options were so uniformly inappropriate). Of course wearing tiny little clothes to a religious institution isn’t appropriate, but a grown man calling middle schoolers “sluts” and “JAPs” far outweighs any kind of legitimate criticism. The sexism on display here is not trivial, either. I agree that the communities need to get involved and set dress codes and behavior codes for both boys AND girls (the top of which should be outlawing the words “gay,” as an epithet, or “slut” and “Jap.”) and should require them to be sent out in the invitations: every single invitation, without exception. they should be reviewing things like – no cell phones (even in a reform shul where it’s not a halachic issue, it’s rude) or cameras, no running around yelling, shirts with collars, pants, not jeans, don’t talk in the religious services, noting that there’s a difference between a religious service and a party. but these are all, without exception – including the clothing issue- larger, societal issues and have to be addressed long before the day itself.
    however, no matter what I think of the lack of knowledge of how to behave in a house of God, there is simply NO excuse for calling 7th graders “sluts.” None. Ever.

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  9. Shlomo

    There are chuckles to be found here, it’s just the use of the word “slut” that seems to detract from the point you’re trying to make; which ain’t all that new, aside from the Jewy angle. The idea of this newfound party life is quite interesting and should be explored in detail, perhaps with a lil’ less snarky commentary and insults. Besides, it’s a little bit creepy when mature men are objectifying pubescent girls.

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  10. EL

    My 12 Y.O. daughter thinks that shorty dresses are “disgusting,” so I hope that she will continue thinking this– especially at her Bat Mitzvah next year.

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  11. Laa245

    I was at the same party as the author, and most of these girls did look like sluts. I also teach nonth graders in Manhattan, and I’m familiar with teenage girls. They should be proud of their bodies, but should be taught that you can still cover the necessary parts and still look pretty and attractive. As a 33 year old woman, their skirts were nine inches shorter than mine and their heels an additional two inches higher. They were dressed extremely inappropriately and I hope for their sake, they look back at these pictures and this time and laugh about how little they knew and how poorly they dressed. And hopefully as the boys get older, they don’t take advantage of their poor choices.

    Reply
  12. River Tam

    Does anyone else think it’s creepy that Mark Dommu,a grown man, spends his time thinking (and writing!) about 13 year old girls’ vaginas? I think he needs help and I am not kidding.

    Reply
  13. River Tam

    One more thing — THANK YOU, Rabbi Alana Suskin. Thank you, thank you, thank you. THANK YOU! You told Mark Dommu exactly what he needed to hear. I have no idea if he will listen, but this article needed the brilliant responses you gave it. Did I say thank you? THANK YOU! How, how could Heeb publish something so hateful and so disturbing?

    Reply
  14. River Tam

    Mark, whether you are gay or straight or bi or whatever — I don’t know and I don’t care. That doesn’t matter. One thing that this article makes quite clear, however, is that you don’t like girls. If you did, you wouldn’t call them “sluts” or “JAPS,” but you do. Those words were meant to insult — children. I don’t know a lot about you. All I know is what I have seen here — you are a grown man who spent an awful lot of time thinking and writing about the vaginas of girls who may not even have their breasts yet. I also know that you found this amusing. At best you are just extremely insensitive and unaware of how hurtful and damaging your words are. At worst, well, I hope you are a better person that this article makes you seem.

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  15. Vlada

    Mark, I do not believe that you achieved your goal of writing an amusing or entertaining article. Furthermore not only is there nothing funny about the situation you’re referring to, it is incredibly inappropriate and quite disturbing that you choose to make your arguments using such foul terms! What purpose do you believe this served? Do you think you opened the eyes of our society? I don’t think so.

    Reply
  16. You have a point

    Thanks for writing this piece, Mark. As someone who does not participate in any faith based practices, I do appreciate the insight. I am familiar with this overt display of sexuality in certain pockets of young Jewish women, more of an observation over the years. I also noticed a resulting defensiveness that develops into early adulthood in some of these women. I often wondered if this sexualized pressure to grow up quickly leads to this defensiveness. And I’ll be blunt as well, I also know grown women who struggle with eating disorders, and folks, teenage years is where it starts. Stuff like this is not child’s play. Girls can’t handle a woman’s job, bottom line.

    All 13 and 14 year old girls should enjoy their childhood. I see nothing special about their bodies, their still kids! When you get old like me, you start to wish for those stuffed animals and fun sleepovers. Frankly, I would strongly resist this environment on my daughter. Best –

    Reply
  17. River Tam

    Can’t stop thinking about this…Is anyone else wondering just HOW Mark Dommu got all the data for his article? How does a grown man know what kids are wearing a bar/bat mitvahs? I haven’t been to a bar/bat mitzvah since I was IN MIDDLE SCHOOL. He’s a grown man. He is either spending a strange amount of time hanging out with a bunch of prepubescents OR he just made up a lot of stuff to insult young girls. Really — why are we even believing him?

    Reply
  18. Country Kibitzer

    Oy! Seriously? He didn’t write anything that isn’t being said at kiddush lunches and mah jong games all around America. Y’all are being hyper sensitive. 12 and 13 year old girls don’t read Heeb, but their parents do. River Tam, have you seen a group of 13 year old girls lately? They are pretty much full grown women. The whole point of a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is that they aren’t children anymore. They are young adults, expected to take responsibility for their actions. If they haven’t even been taught to dress without drawing negative attention, gevalt! This problem is a whole lot deeper than a dress code.

    Reply
  19. Robert

    I was recommended this read by fellow colleagues I work with and I felt the need to reply after reading the comments and article. I will start by saying that I am Jewish and a mobile DJ who is present at hundreds of bar and bat mitzvahs per year, as I am working them for a living. I have been DJing these events for at least 10 years, after I myself was a teenager attending these events. While I agree with many of the comments that it is not right to refer to these young women as sluts and JAPs, to defend these girls (and guys) from being referred to as such simply ignores the point the author was trying to make.

    Sure, this was written in a satirical manner, borderline offensive even, but his observations are correct. And, it has nothing to do with why he is looking at this…it is hard not to notice this trend. We as DJ’s are paid to observe the party to assure that people dance and participate, so it is hard to overlook the kids who are grinding on each other in these inappropriate clothing choices throughout the night. The bottom line is that it comes down to taking responsibility. In my position, I have the responsibility (and I live up to it) not to condone such dancing as the person in charge of taking the party in the right direction. So if I notice this taking place, I change the music, even at risk of making a not-so popular suggestion. Why? Because I don’t want to be seen as somebody who thinks it is ok to allow this!

    But, go one step further…the person or people in charge of pointing these adolescent children in the right direction is the parents. So, to merely deflect the issue at hand by saying it is wrong to refer to these young people in such manner only causes the issue to remain. Instead, parents ought to recognize that this is a negative stereotype to be seen as JAPs or as sluts, and thus it is their responsibility to teach their kids about these stereotypes and how not to be labeled in such a way. Only then will it disappear. Parents, its ok to be the bad guy towards your kid…teach them what is right and what is wrong, and do not let them get away with it!

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  20. River Tam

    Country Kibitzer, I see groups of girls that age EVERY DAY. Some look grown. Others look like they are still in elementary school. ALL of them are CHILDREN in the eyes of the law (and in the eyes of decent adults). You obviously don’t agree. After all, you said, “13 year old girls…are pretty much full grown women.” It is disturbing to know that you believe that. Do your friends and relatives know you think that? Is there a reason you don’t tell them? The idea that a 13 year old girl could have the physical, emotional, and sexual maturity of a full-grown woman is just ludicrous — but not to you. Now, about that responsibility thing — do you think, perhaps, that an adult man, like Mark Dommu, should take some responsibility for the abusive things he has said about children? He and you both really need to consider why people are responding with such disgust to his article. The problem has NOTHING to do with a dress code and everything to do with people who think it is all right to degrade little girls — and then try to justify it by saying those little girls are “pretty much full grown women” — as if full-grown women deserve to be slut-shamed either. They don’t.

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  21. Country Kibitzer

    River, I wasn’t talking about in the eyes of the law, in the eyes of the Jewish community they are considered adults, responsible for their actions in a Jewish context, able to be counted in a minyan, lead a service, read from Torah. They should have enough of a Jewish education to start making good decisions about what they eat, WHAT THEY WEAR, how they behave, how and when they pray, in a Jewish context. They still has a whole lot of growing to do and need guidance, but that is the whole point of a Bar Mitzvah. I do not think they have the “physical, emotional, and sexual maturity of a full-grown adult.” That is indeed ludicrous.

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  22. Sabrina Beram

    I think there is a larger issue going on here than the default argument of “slut” building a negative image for young girls to contend with when they are surrounded by the same imagery they imitate.

    The larger issue being the importance (or lack thereof) of attending synagogue for this younger generation.

    They are obviously not getting the message of torah teachings, so why are they there?

    I see this more as a failure of their parents and Jewish community leaders to engage them and counter trashy American culture in any meaningful way.

    It’s not on the girls, it’s on their role models in my opinion:

    This way of dressing reflects a need for religion to modernize and get back to it’s roots instead of succumbing to mainstream shallowness and a financially-driven deterioration of meaning (what can young attendees take away from outrageously priced high holiday tickets/ synagogue membership fees and being chanted at in hebrew that’s beyond understanding? how can they be expected/ motivated to connect?)

    Reply
  23. Angela

    I’m so grateful to see comments like yours, Masha + Rabbi Suskin + supporters– otherwise I could have gotten away with reading this article and not thinking twice about how it affected the way that I think about myself and, worse, how young and especially impressionable girls form their worldview about what it means to be a woman, or to be sexual, or to be free when they are given this bullshit to deal with from internet, media and peers. Thanks to you :)

    Reply
  24. River Tam

    LAA245, you are not telling the truth. You say you were at the same party as the author. What? The author never said he was at a party. He talked about bar/bat mitvahs in general, but not a specific one. Furthermore, a bar/bat mitzvah is very different from a mere party — and you would know that, had you ever been to one. What else are you lying about? Well, I know you aren’t a teacher. I wish I could say I knew that because your horrible writing skills make such a thing impossible. That’s not true, unfortunately. However — no one teaches ninth (or as you put it,”nonth”) grade. People in high school teach math, science, English — but they don’t teach grades. They teach subject areas. So, that’s another thing you are lying about — and I am relieved. It would disturb me greatly to know that there was a teacher out there who could look at girls the same age as her students and see them as sluts. You say you did that. I wouldn’t want you teaching my kids, I can tell you that. No one who thinks of children the way you do should be around them — they are too vulnerable. As Victor Hugo (try googling him, dear) once said, “It is fatally easy to make small children believe they are terrible.”

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  25. $LUT

    Personally, I think that those who choose to challenge this particular piece are well…delusional to say the least. Before you get yourselves into a tizzy over the use of the word “slut” regarding pre-teen/teenage girls…why don’t you wake up and look at what the year 2012 is fueled by. Some of you have mentioned it, but there’s no doubt that in this day and age our country thrives on sex. We are all sexual beings. Sexual discovery/exploration can be the most exciting and integral experience in a young persons life…yet I just can’t seem to justify a twelve year old girl bent over on the dance floor with a preteen boy thrusting spastically at her bottom (in front of friends, family, relatives) as “budding sexuality.” If you ask me, that only display’s that there is no “budding,” but this girl is in full bloom. And at age twelve, if you feel right at home with your pre-pubecent breasts hanging out of your party dress…yeah, you’re probably a slut. Last I checked, girls are fully capable of healthy sexual awakening without dressing like a streetwalker. I’m all about self expression through clothing…but if your young daughter chooses to express herself through minimal bedazzled fabric…well, chances are…she will be called a slut.

    So really what I’ve gathered from these comments is that the majority of you believe that the sacred and religious ceremony of the Bar Mitzvah is an acceptable atmosphere for young girls to explore themselves as sexual beings. If you can’t show your bare shoulders in temple, then I highly doubt putting your labia on display in a house of worship is permissible. I’ve been to my fair share of Bar Mitzvah’s, and the way that girls choose to dress to a religious ceremony is both disrespectful and wildly inappropriate. I don’t understand this rush to grow up so fast, and really I think that’s what this article is trying to pinpoint. Kids should be kids, not Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian. You have all of the time in the world to be slutty in high school, college…basically the rest of your adult life.

    And for those of you questioning Mark Dommu for attending a Bar Mitzvah recently…don’t you all have relatives? Have you never attended a Bar Mitzvah for a nephew, niece, or cousin? Really?

    Reply
  26. Mark Dommu
    Mark Dommu

    I’m so happy that everyone unanimously loved my article! Thanks guys!

    OK BUT SRSLY.

    I was at my cousin’s bar mitzvah this past weekend, that is what prompted this article being written. I was speaking with a group of adult women and THEY were the ones who were the first to point out how skankily these 13-year-old girls were dressed (LAA245, who is a very intelligent high school teacher, was at my table). I don’t attend a lot of bar mitzvah’s, but these women, some of whom have teenage children who attend them every week, complained that this was an alarming issue. So I wrote about it. I hope that parents will start being more aware of how their children are dressing/behaving at religious events.

    And yes Fat Larry, Space Jam is THE BEST MOVIE EVER.

    Reply
  27. Rabbi Steve

    As a Reform Rabbi serving a SMALLer congregation in a suburban setting in which we, as Jews, are seen as “exotic” by our neighbors for our numerical rarity, who has raised a daughter through this age of her life in this century (and is currently struggling to raise a son through the same), and who works to make sure his rabbinate is built upon meaning and relevance, I have to laugh — but not at this blog. I was more than a little disturbed by the tone and text of this message the first I read it (more on this in a minute). But I am laughing even more now after having read through the “discussion” that the blog has engendered — except the laughter is NOT funny.

    Like the original post, the commentary has become more of a “Rorschach test” exercise — displaying far more of ourselves as respondents (myself included, no doubt!) than we either realize, or will be comfortable acknowledging and admitting, now that we are being called on it. And what it reveals is NOT pretty.

    I actually find EVERY issue that has been raised in the discussion to have validity and significance, even amidst the weaknesses of the respective arguments when they appear.

    @Mark Dommu and the folks at “Heeb” — this is the first experience I have had of either of you (I was alerted to the article by a repost to Facebook of the EXTREMELY provocative and inappropriate title). If this is indicative of what you, respectively, find is humorous, or appropriate to share with others, then I can assure you, it will be my last. The misogyny and self-loathing as a Jew in this blog completely undermine the otherwise legitimate concerns being raised, and do so in a way the reinforces the dysfunction, rather than providing useful suggestions for improvement.

    @Rabbi Suskin — thank you for taking the moral high ground, and calling the author out. HOWEVER — in your second response, you make the claim “Believe me, the parents are aware…” Sadly, not as many of them are, and, at least based on appearances, extreme behaviors tend to correlate inversely with parental awareness. Simple empirical proof for that claim? The vast majority of these young girls whose dress and behavior are questionable are NOT being seen by their parents at these events. The ones whose parents ARE also at the reception tend NOT to be the ones dressing and acting in the extreme. No clearer awareness than to be a physical witness. And in the rare cases where the behaviors are exhibited in the presence of the parents, as the Rabbi, I make a mental note to check in with those families afterwards!

    @ ALL — Granted, I have the luxury of officiating at 8 – 10 b’nai mitzvah in most years, not 50 – 100 or more. As a result, I personally do 98% of the training of kids AND FAMILIES for months (and several years in the case of parents), and get to know them on a deeper level. The lower volume allows me to easily attend virtually all receptions, so I too am a physical witness to what is going on. Being on the outer edge of the Northeast, I am thankful that the cultural trends up north and the “escalatio” (not my coinage, go back to Tom Lehrer in the 60s!) of multiple excessive parties EVERY week for 12 – 18 months do not have nearly the opportunity to erode the moral fiber of my community.

    And, as a result, I have the chance to work with my families in advance, and be seen and heard with credibility, in ALL areas of their celebration. We make the service personal, yet appropriate. I can also give suggestions about djs and locations and photographers, and ask the parents to be the best supporters and resources for each other that they will have. In other words, changing the overall gestalt from a competitive mode (“We have to have a party more memorable than the Schwartz’s!”) to a communal mode (“How can we help take the pressures off each other up to and through the celebration?”) It truly DOES take a shtetl (and we are HARDLY a shtetl!).

    Yet we still struggle over issues of appropriate dress and decorum — not because of the over-familiarity of our own kids, but because of lack of familiarity and experience on the part of their non-Jewish friends who celebrate with us. In large part, we have found that phrases like “church appropriate” to describe dress miss as many or more of the non-Jews for THEIR lack of experience. And so, we embrace the responsibility to make these experiences learning experiences for all participants… to do all that we can to provide context and understanding. So much so, that our young adults themselves tolerate the corniness of some of my explanatory schtick that only becomes obvious the sixth or seventh time they hear it!

    Being a teenager is hard — it involves learning who you really are for yourself, and becoming comfortable with yourself. As a Jew in a mostly non-Jewish setting, our kids have an additional challenge — one that we, as a community, embrace, and provide an outlet for their comfort. Learning how to be a responsible young man or woman is not easy — and as much as we strive for equality of gender roles and sexual identities, there are still different realities explicit and implicit in this. I do not know if we truly succeed here with our own kids — as a parent, I KNOW there are things I wish I saw more of in my own daughter and son. But I know that, for the vast majority of our kids and families, they are good people, subject to poor judgments at times like we all are; capable of making bad decisions, as we all are; but trying their best. And with every discussion like this one has become, I at least get an affirmation that we are doing no worse than most, and seem to be doing better than a whole lot of others!

    Our Jewish institutions — synagogues, JCCs and others — MUST help both our young people AND their parents to deal with these truths. I reject BOTH premises made by responders above — that this is either an example of the bankruptcy of the moral stature of the synagogue uniquely or the parents individually — because they are each too simplistic and blameful. And, even in areas of total lack of affiliation, the two do NOT exist separate from each other!

    Sadly, where the dysfunction is most visible, it is clear that a self-defeating reinforcement loop has been created — to the detriment of BOTH parties. In these cases, individual Jewish households have abdicated their primary role in the education of their own children to the “Jewish professionals” at the synagogue; while the synagogue has failed to find ways to make up for the lack of context outside of their own walls, to create programming to entice this captive audience in and give them the comfort and the reason to increase the role they have abdicated, and to redirect the adult focus from short-term outcome (the “bar or bat mitzvahing [sic! — and the best proof of how far we have fallen!] of my child) to long-term value for the entire household.

    And so we end up turning articles like this into requiems for our favorite shortcoming of Jewish life and community. And in the process, we divert our attention from the important issues raised originally — that too many of our teens are feeling pressure to dress and act in ways that are neither comfortable nor appropriate for themselves or to the moment; that in too many cases, parents, synagogues, or both, are not doing everything we can to support them through a difficult and critical time in their development, by failing to speak clearly and teach effectively, or sending mixed messages with our other behaviors, which our young people clearly see far better than we think.

    This is a time when we, as parents and the Jewish community, need to reinforce the positive messages of becoming b’nai mitzvah for our children — in our words AND our actions. The change in their status to BEGINNING adults (NOT fully-formed, perfectly functioning adults, but “interns”) absolutely creates a change in our relationships with them as parents. After all, there are THREE required elements according to Jewish tradition, in celebrating with a bar mitzvah in the sanctuary (and therefore, by extension, with a bat mitzvah in our modern world). The first is the obvious call of the young person as an aliyah. The other two are relationship-based. The second is the sharing of the communal kiddush, by which the community welcomes and formally embraces their newest adult member (and NOT the reception — we can control the kiddush!). The third is the parental blessing that follows the aliyah — by which the parents formally acknowledge that their child’s change of status MUST create a change in their relationship as well.

    And, therefore, @COUNTRY KIBITZER — while I THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for being willing to take a firm stand with your child and her friends and their families, I also beg of you to be intentional and thoughtful in HOW you do so (as it clearly appears from your comment that you are — allow me, please, to use your words and example to teach others!). By all means, start out with the hard line you espoused above… because at the start of this process, your child is still your Jewish legal and moral responsibility. However, find the way, especially once she gets to her own celebration, to use the experience of her own reception, and her own changed status to reinforce a positive model of parenting an emerging Jewish adult. Give her the space to make her own choices — even those with which you may not agree. In acting to teach on those occasions she does make a poor decision, please do so in a way that reinforces HER responsibility for her actions, while NOT abdicating your responsibilities as a parent of a child who is still, at least to the larger culture, and in her development, a minor, and in need of your involvement and direction!

    Sadly, it take a huge amount of effort, care, thought, and intentionality to raise children today… even more to raise good Jewish children. As a result, what should be a GREAT celebration and a loving, comfortable embrace from family and community of our children’s coming-of-age in their, and our, religious culture and tradition, becomes instead the seeds of a crop of issues of self-identity and self-confidence whose harvest we continue to reap for years afterwards.

    Hardly the fruit for snarky attempts at age-inappropriate humor!

    Reply
  28. Funny Fatty

    As someone who was a skanky 13 year old girl and definitely wore those dresses but was too chunky to get away with it, I can honestly say these dresses are awesome. They force the girls who can’t get away with it to gain personalities and live on happily where we can laugh at our 13 yr old self. The girls who can get away with it, usually get knocked up or a meth addiction.

    The lesson here, if you’re not pulling off that hoochy skirt you won’t get a meth problem.

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  29. Valerie

    I think it is terrible that you are attempting to sexualize and shame these young girls. The language you use to talk about these girls is very offensive and shows that you care more for pointing fingers than about what is happening here.

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  30. Bill_Smith

    “Just an FYI, I like dudes so I’m not like, skeeving on these girls. Just so we’re clear.”
    Does that mean that if the article was about Bar Mitzvah Himbos, then we should raise our eyebrows?

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  31. Whazzat

    You lost me with JAPS – Jewish girls were labeled this way in the 1970s, and it was a terrible term back then. A lot of self-hatred there for any Jewish man to refer to women as JAPS. Ironically, the JAP-haters I knew all went on to marry and later divorce neurotic, high-maintenance WASPS. There is some karma in this world!

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  32. Renee Himmel

    Being the parent of 2 teenage daughters and having just passed through several years of the BM shuffle, I can say that you lost any points that you might have made when you started using the derogatory terms. Two things I teach my daughters – people will judge you by what you wear, but that doesn’t mean they are right – so the second thing is, don’t you judge people by what they wear. The girls at this are playacting – and how they dress has very little to do with actual sexual experience, And from what I’ve seen, the boys are not innocents – as a parent, I am more concerned about these kids having access to alcohol and drugs – especially after seeing the wonderful example of many of the adults who get absolutely hammered at these events. And is what goes on, as far as the attire really that much different from the Catholic school girls who roll their skirts all the way up as soon as the adults are out of eyeshot? This is what teens do – it is up to us as adults to teach them that it is not appropriate to dress that way and why, and not to pass judgment on personality characteristics that may have nothing to do with the kids involved.
    By the way Mark, how many teenage girls have you raised?

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  33. shavit

    I’m at a loss.

    when did it become unacceptable for a Jew to call out younger Jews on poor behavior? Is the problem only his use of the word ‘slut”? Are people seriously suggesting that the author used the word in any other context than “slut” equals “dressing horribly inappropriately”? Does anyone honestly believe that: (1) if the kids are old enough to be hear they can’t spot the nuance; or (2) this short piece will have some lasting impact on their self image through puberty? Give me a break …

    but hell, which is worse, using ‘slut’ in a satirical manner, or questioning the author’s jewish-identity while you act like an armchair psychologist? (looking at you Rabbi Steve and Whazzat)

    Reply
  34. Heeb
    Joshua Neuman

    I love how committed so many of you are about parsing such nuanced critiques about the use of the word “slut” on a site called “heeb.” fascinating.

    Reply
  35. Elliot

    Mark,

    After seeing your photo and reading your “column” I can see that your the typical pathetic chubby schlub we used to beat the piss out of. You should pursue the fat schicksa at the clubs, just before closing time and maybe, just maybe, you might be able to write about he first real experience. You are the anti-christ of Jewish males so typical of mocky New York Jews that disgust me. You’r probably the kind of guy that takes a Krav class and then shits his pants the first confrontation he gets in, but is damn sure to wear the T-shirt. Get a life. BTW what are you doing stalking young girls/boys at Bar Mitzvahs anyway?

    Reply

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