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November 11, 1988 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-11-11

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

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1FRONTLINES

Dispelling The JAP Stereotype
Begins In Jewish Community

RUTHAN BRODSKY

Special to The Jewish News

T

he University of Mich-
igan's Talk to Us
Theater Troupe sur-
rounded 500 persons at Con-
gregation Shaarey Zedek last
week. The actors, Jews and
non-Jews, called out crisp one
liners:
"JAPS are all alike!"
"You can tell who they are
by their attitude."
"They only show interest in
things."
"You don't have to be
Jewish to be a JAR"
Some of the troupe stepped
on stage to enact scenes from
a college party and friends
rapping after dates. The
troupe facilitator froze the ac-
tion and asked, "How can you
tell a person's a JAP?"
"Can men be JAPS?"
"Why did you leave the
scene when they started talk-
ing about JAPS?"
"Why do you say young
Jewish men are predictable
and losers?"
"Do you like it when peple
don't know you're Jewish?"
The actors respond in
character.
"It's the way they talk,
their gestures, and the way
they dress. They all look
alike!"
"She assumed I was paying
for her!"
"All she talked about was
my BMW, not the dissertation
I'm working on!'
"All they care about is shop-
ing and how they look!'
The audience is getting the
message. The Jewish
American Princes: It started
as a joke but it's not funny
anymore.
The Talk To Us Troupe and
Lilith magazine founder
Susan Weidman Schneider
were featured at the two-day
institute of the Jewish
Welfare Federation Women's
Division.
- Schneider explained that in
the 1950s and 1960s the issue
of JAPS — Jewish American
Princess — was benign.
"Everyone's daughter was
daddy's little girl. But by the
late '70s men introduced
their spouses as 'my JAP wife'
and jokes about JAP women
being simultaneously frigid
and promiscuous abounded."
Today, it is bigotry heard in
the shouts of JAP at football
games and seen in graffiti on
college buildings. The harass-
ment of Jewish women on
campus is widespread, with
incidents reported at Indiana,

Susan Schneider: "Jews have to remove JAP from their own
vocabularies."

Maryland, Syracuse, Cornell
and the University of
Michigan.
Materialistic, emotionally
inauthentic, and unable to
have true relatoinships are
the characteristics ascribed to
a JAP said Schneider, in ad-
dition to being either overly
dependent or independent.
"Maybe these events are
taking place as a backlash
against the women's move-
ment," she said, "or maybe
it's just a magnet for anti-
Semitism. What's important
is to recognize it as a negative
stereotype of Jewish women
and that affects every Jew. It
is a Jewish issue. It damages
self-esteem and does not per-
mit us to be ourselves."
Schneider recommended
that Jews exclude the word
JAP from their vocabularly.
"Deal with the particulars,"
she suggested. "If you don't
like a behavior, talk about
that particular behavior
rather than describing it as
JAPpy. Get the JAP coloring
books and the Bagelmen
greeting cards out of the gift
shops. Organize small identi-
ty workshops to increase
positive feelings of Judaism
on campus by addressing
some of the negative issues."
When dating, Schneider ex-
plained that individuals have
to be strong enough to ad-
dress the issue. Name-callers
should be confronted by
saying:

"Don't you think that when
you call me a JAP, that you
have some negative feelings
about being Jewish — or
about Jews."
"You are saying something
that's offensive to me. You
don't know me."
"Confrontation is difficult
and we may need to practice
what to say," suggested
Schneider. "But it's impor-
tant. It affects the profes-
sional woman as well as the
student. Someone who thinks
of a Jewish woman as a JAP
is not going to believe that
woman knows or cares about
pay equity or the feminiza-
tion of poverty."

Kaplan AIDS
Benefit Monday

The Friends of Kaplan
Medical Center are hard at
work putting the finishing
touches on their benefit for
AIDS research which will
take place at the Fisher
Theater on Monday at 7 p.m.
A strolling gourmet gala,
where guests may partake of
specialities from 25 of the
area's restaurants will kick
off the evening in the Fisher
lobby.
The entertainment pro-
gram will continue in the
theater with four stars of the
Pirates of Penzance produc-
tion performing selected ex-
cerpts from the show. This

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