You know what’s a really annoying thing about being a woman in the frum world? Being taught all your life that right after high school you’ll go to seminary and right (or soon) after seminary you’ll get married so that you can have a family and fulfill your purpose as a Jewish woman. Sure, it’s a nice idea, but no one seems to talk about what happens if you don’t get married. I guess that life without a man just isn’t an option. (Which is ridiculously ironic after you’ve been told all your life to stay far away from them, but that’s another story.)
Those of us who don’t get married immediately after seminary are given the option of working within the frum community, because working out of the frum community would have a bad influence on us. Usually the jobs available are: being a teacher or, alternatively, a teacher’s assistant. The reason why these jobs are available are because the frum Jewish schools don’t require that you have any sort of experience or skills for them.
Ridiculous, I know, but when I informed the principal of a preschool in the neighborhood who contacted me about a job position that I had zero experience with children, she said, “That’s fine.” That was a month or two after I left seminary and I ended up working in that school for two years until I realized the reason why they didn’t care that I had no experience: because it meant that they could pay me dirt-wages. Someone with experience wants to be paid more than they’re willing to offer.
I discovered this when I asked for a raise after two years and they informed me that that wasn’t an option. I left, realizing that I would soon be replaced with another gal straight out of seminary. Latest I heard, there are girls years younger than me who are now teaching in that school. I was an assistant with no experience; they’re teachers with no experience. I’ve warned everyone I know with kids to keep their children far away from that school.
It all worked out well for me because I got a better job with a better salary, but when I bumped into my high school principal at a wedding (of a classmate) and told him I was running a website, I’m pretty sure that the look he gave me was not one of approval.
That wedding was not a fun experience for me. Right now, I can’t even remember whose wedding it was. All I remember was seeing a number of my former classmates wearing the wigs that symbolize their married-status and wondering why they were giving me these strange smiles when they said hello to me. It didn’t take long to realize that I was getting the infamous, “Oh-it’s-so- sad- that- she’s- still- single,” Look. I was 21 at the time.
Yes, at age 21 I was nearing the status of, “old-maid” in the frum world. Now, at 23, I’m positively ancient. Showing up to my 18 year-old sister’s graduation and having girls years younger holding their babies giving me the Look… That really (pardon my French) pissed me off.
So what’s with this attitude of needing to be married to have a life? Is that as obnoxiously chauvinistic as I think it is?