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November 27, 1987 - Image 153

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-11-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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"I don't like the term JAP,
and I don't believe in the
term," Rabbi Spectre added.
"We, as a people have suffered
from generalizations
throughout our history."
The Jewish stereotyping of
members of the opposite sex
seems to start at a young age.
Rabbi Lane Steinger of Tem-
ple Emanu-El has sometimes
given members of his confir-
mation class an exercise en-
titled "JAPs: Jewish
American Princes and
Princesses." The purpose of
the assignment is to deter-
mine the extent to which
teenagers typecast each
other. The results, said Rabbi
Steinger, are disturbing.
The test demonstrated that
Jewish teenagers have
already developed negative
feelings about Jews of the op-
posite sex. Girls tend to think
that boys are spoiled, coddled
mama's boys who are egocen-
tric and stuck-up. The boys
have similar views, thinking
that the girls are spoiled
snobs who only care about
material possessions.
"It's quite remarkable and
quite disturbing," said Rabbi
Steinger. "The exercise
demonstrates a real negative
process that feeds upon itself.
A conflict results. Most
Jewish people are raised with
some sense that it's impor-
tant to marry someone
Jewish. There are negative
aspects to Jewish people, but
when you have a feeling of
ambivalence, there can be dif-
ficulty in meeting someone."
"It is a superficial way of

looking at people," Rabbi Ste-
inger added. "It inhibits and
sometimes even precludes
developing social relation-
ships. But it's a real part of
American Jewish life."
What can be done to stem
the tide of Jewish singles
looking at each other in such
a stereotypical way? One way
is to undergo experiences
such as those of Anita Hoff-
man Ehrenfried, who recent-
ly moved back to the Detroit
area after her divorce.
"One time in my life, 1 had
money, but since I've been
divorced, my ex and the
lawyer have it all," she said.
"Since I came back to Detroit,
I've gone out with a lot of dif-
ferent people, from auto
mechanics to salesmen to
management people. What's
important to me is the person.
Money is nice, but it doesn't
make a happy relationship.
Now, I go out with people
because of who they are, not
what they are."
An easier way to make
some changes in Jewish at-
titudes is to avoid using the
term JAP, which is generally
applied to women, although
men are also included.
"I think that term is
disgusting," said Pam T., a
single woman. "Think about
what Jewish culture has gone
through because of
stereotypes. I don't think we
have to label Jewish women
with that terrible name."
Take a pledge — no more
JAP jokes. They're not really
funny, anyway. ❑

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‘JAP' Jokes Are Linked
To Anti-Jewish Bias

The increasingly popular
"humor" lampooning the
"Jewish American Princess"
(JAP) is considered to be a
serious anti-Semitic and sex-
ist attack by Jewish
feminists.
Whether in the form of ver-
bal cracks, graffiti, greeting
cards or other abusive slurs,
the JAP — defined as self-
serving, manipulative,
materialistic, and sexually
cold — has become the
stereotype for Jewish women
and even non-Jewish women
who conform to the image.
Links between anti-JAP
and anti-Semitic abuse are
prominent on some college
campuses. In the fall 1987
series " `JAP'-Baiting on
Campus" in Lilith magazine,
incidents at several univer-
sities pointed to a non-
humorous stereotype.
The stereotype, according to
Sherry Merfish. chairman of
the Women's Issues Commit-

-

tee of the American Jewish
Committee's Houston
chapter, "derogates Jewish
women . . . attacks the
religion and fosters anti-
Semitism." Merfish addressed
about 115 concerned Jews at
the AJCommittee's Con-
ference on Current
Stereotypes of Jewish women
held recently in New York.
Jewelry and clothes have
replaced the large noses and
yarmulkes as the objects of
anti-Semitic attacks, she said.
Houston stores carry JAP
greeting cards, including the
"Official Application for the
JAP Olympic Games," featur-
ing the stereotypical long-
nosed, frizzy-haired, plump
woman wearing a Star of
David, and jumping hurdles
to a clearance sale.
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