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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Good Girl, Bad Girl and the Quest for Certainty

Every day we see stories about the abuse of women and children in the media. One of these concerns a young girl raised in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect called Satmar, in Williamsburg.

This sect is nothing more than a cult. It's a cult that I am familiar with because of my family. They are good people led by what amounts to nothing more than fundamentalist thugs.

The alleged assaults started at the time the young woman was just 12. She had been sent to unlicensed "therapist" Nechemya Weberman, a member of the "modesty committee," for "counseling" for the infraction of asking questions in school.

The story is lurid and I won't repeat the details of the allegations here. But suffice it to say that the victim's testimony reduced the courtroom to tears. One wonders how she survived at all, let alone kept it to herself. (The blog FailedMessiah covers the case extensively.)

The worst part of the whole thing, to my mind, is that the cult's "Grand Rabbi" calls the victim a "whore," completely flipping the Bible on its head (which takes the side of the victim). At a dinner this week he stated:
"A Jewish daughter has descended so low, terrible! ... (Quoting the Bible:) 'Is our sister to be like a whore?'" - Source (scroll down to the comments for translation)
Victims are innocent, attackers are guilty but in the narrative of the sick community, being victimized makes a good girl "bad."

Why should anyone care about this story? Because unfortunately, even non-victims of sexual assault are cast into categories and mistreated accordingly.

Over the past year or so I've spoken to a few women, informally, about their experiences with dating. And to the letter they all seem to be going through the same thing. Which is that they date, have relationships over a long period of time (years), even approaching common-law marriage. But no commitment from their partner is forthcoming.

I talked to my aunt about this - the one who lives in an ultra-Orthodox community that is geographically close to this cult - and she told me that the problem is this: Girls should be religious (in our case, ultra-Orthodox Jewish). Because then they would be treated with respect - they would be seen as "good."

Isn't it ironic? Here we have the case of an allegedly bad man heading up a "modesty squad" intended to keep "good girls" good. And he allegedly victimizes one of these good girls, which automatically turns her "bad." But at the same time, girls who are not part of these ultra-Orthodox communities are automatically "bad," which means they can't get any "worse."

Twisted words - "good girl," "bad girl" - reflecting the logic of twisted thinking.