Wednesday, August 29, 2007

3/22/2007: response to my dad

I just went though his letter and made point by point responses, this will change a lot in the future. feel free to critique it, this is more of a freewrite, so a lot of it is just first instinct emotional type responses. The stuff my dad wrote is in quotes, and my responses are after each point...

“The divorce rate is about 50%”
Actually it’s around 40%

“while Jewish identity may not matter as much when one is in one’s 20s it will undoubtedly become more meaningful as you age”

Actually It’s become a lot less meaningful to me as I age, and while you hold on to the hope that it will become more meaningful, I doubt that is the case. Therefore not undoubtedly

“how would you feel going to church, putting up a Christmas tree, or having your baby baptized?”

I find it funny that you thin I would date someone who was practicing a religion other than mine; my boyfriend B is an atheist, and doesn’t believe in any of that stuff.

“compromises rarely work. No one feels good about the result”

Marriage and accommodating someone else’s life into your life is ALL about compromises. If they don’t work you break up. The key to a good relationship is being able to compromise about the things that are not important to you while standing firm on the things that ARE important to you; as a marriage psychologist I would think you would at least know that.

“child related intermarriage tensions are the most common cause for marriage failures”

This statement is just blatantly wrong, and misleading, especially since most marriages that end in divorce aren’t even intermarriages.

“if the couple eventually gets divorced all agreements are off the table. There are many stories of one spouse being granted custody and raising the child exclusively Christian, despite premarital intentions or arrangements”

First of all, B is not Christian; he is an atheist. Second of all, the one spouse who is granted custody is 9 times out of 10 the mother, which is me. Third of all, I’m not even sure I want to have children.

“despite arrangements that might be made in advance, children from intermarriages typically are damaged and deprived of being able to clearly identify with a particular religious and cultural community. They do not fit in well anywhere”

Well I’m not from an intermarriage, and I don’t clearly identify with the Jewish community, nor do I think I fit in with it. Most people I know do not identify with a particular religious and/or cultural community, and they are getting along fine.

“Judaism has a rich culture to offer and it is valuable to maintain traditions”

See that’s where you and I disagree. I think SOME traditions are valuable, like celebrating holidays. Most however are blatantly sexist, xenophobic, and ethnocentric.

“there are many avenues open to meet decent Jewish men. It takes extra work but the results are worth it”

Yeah, well I was on Jdate for 3 years, and I’d say I’ve gone on about 50 first dates, and have attended around 40 Friday night dinners where the main function was for young singles to meet each other; and I have not met anyone worth dating. The few I did date were not worth continuing to date. I feel like I put in a significant effort to date a Jewish man, and have not found one who was compatible to me; and even A, who I almost married, was not as compatible or as right for me as B is.

“The truth is you are a smart young woman and can probably think of reasons why what you propose to consider may make sense. While I will be making the sociological argument that we live in communal settings and that we function as part of a tribe, culture, ethnic heritage and family you will probably be making the argument that promotes individual concerns above all else”

First of all, that’s not a sociological argument, because you are placing a value judgment on this communal living (that it is good) while sociologists would never argue for values. Remember, I’m getting a phd in sociology. What sociologists would say is that tribal living serves a function; evolutionary (continuance of certain genetics), protective, and an avenue for social control. However, the Jewish community has never been protective to me; rather, I have already been rejected from this community for not adhering to it’s principles that I personally find repugnant, and therefore I have none of the protection that the community affords. So all I as an individual am left with is the social control; and as a ‘deviant’ from this community, I have created my own community, which consists of friends, coworkers, and the academic community that I am a part of. So that’s the sociological argument.

My individualistic (and partially sociological) argument is this: Realistically, I’m going to be moving far away from you and the rest of the family when I start my career as a professor. As such, I won’t gain any of the benefits to buying into this form of social control, since I won’t have family support by virtue of physical distance. In addition, realistically you and mom and the rest of the family who cares (because I don’t think my brothers will disown me) will be dead and gone in a couple of decades. I don’t want to be 50 and be alone and unhappy because I towed the line my whole life, and it gave me no benefits at all.

So, to use economic terms, my cost/benefit ratio is this: Little to no potential benefits to breaking up with my boyfriend for my family, since I usually don’t get along with our family as it is, I have no financial dependence on them, and receive little to no emotional support. While on the other hand, the potential benefit I have to staying with my boyfriend is happiness and companionship, a partner who sees and treats me as an equal, and who is willing to follow me in the career path I have chosen. The potential costs to staying with him is losing touch with a family I barely am in touch with anyways, and having children who are not raised Jewish, which is more of a cost for you than a cost for me, who does not believe in the religion anyways.

“No matter how nice a guy this man might be he will never be accepted by our family. Absolutely. Perhaps the same sentiment is shared by his family? Will his family have trouble accepting you as well?”

Actually he has told his parents about me, including the fact that I am Jewish. While it would be nice to have at least one of our parents support us, it’s not necessary for me. Additionally, like myself, B does not base his decisions based on what his parents would want him to do.

“when you scratch beneath the surface will there be some latent anti-Semitism lurking beneath the surface that will come out in your first argument?”

That’s ridiculous; not only have we already have some arguments, since we are both pretty argumentative, he dated a Jewish girl for 2 years when he was younger, which indicates to me a pretty strong not anti-Semitic view.

“it is probably an irreversible decision that will profoundly affect not only the two of you but your immediate and extended family as well as any future children you might have. Do you think they will ever be fully accepted?”

I’m not sure who you mean accepted by. I understand that any potential (theoretical) children I will have will not be fully accepted by you; what will probably happen in that case is that we will proceed with our lives as if they only have 2 surviving grandparents. If you mean by the Jewish community, well I already am not fully accepted into that, so I don’t see how this will change anything. Additionally, I would not want my children accepted into a community that would reject its own children for any reason at all, let alone one with the sexist and racist underpinnings of Judaism. I didn’t stop practicing Judaism by accident or because I was lazy; I have clear reasons for not following it, which I’ve previously declined to bring up with you out of respect for your choice to live your life the way you want to live it. I’d appreciate the same respect from you, even though I know I will not get it.

“finally the true test of whether what you are doing is correct and proper lies with your being able to hold your head up and be proud of your actions. Will you be proud to let others know that you might be dating such a man? Would you feel comfortable introducing him to your family? Would you even be honest enough to show him this letter? If not perhaps your mind is sending a message that your heart should heed.”

I have already let my chosen family; that is, my friends, know all about him, and many of them have met him. I would be happy to introduce him to you and mom if you would be willing to meet with him, and if you would agree to such a meeting feel free to come visit us, or we can drive up to meet up with you. As for the extended family, I would not just show up at a family function with him in tow, out of respect for you and mom, and the knowledge that such an action would result in a lot more fallout for you and mom than for me. If I knew that you wouldn’t get constant shit about it as a result, I would bring him in a second. Finally, the first thing that I did when receiving this letter was show it to B, and we both read it and discussed the points you brought up. If I’m not ashamed of him, and if I showed him the letter first thing, does that mean my mind is sending me a message that my heart should head, that is the opposite of the message you are implying?

“the basis for a firm relationship is a strong foundation of common values, culture, and yes, religion.”

Yes, well me and B thus far have common values and culture, and we have the same religion; atheism.

“enjoy the book”

I’m reading the book..i can’t help but read it with a critical eye for the flaws in her argument, but I am trying to read it with an open mind. However, thus far in my reading (and I haven’t gotten that far yet) I haven’t found any compelling argument for breaking up with B.

Anyways, if you would like to come down to visit at any point, I will take you and Mom and B out to lunch at any Kosher restaurant of your choice, or we would be glad to drive up to Jersey to have lunch with you, and I’ll take you out as well (my treat!). I know we will probably never agree on this issue, but it would make me happy if you and mom and B could at least tolerate to be in the same room as each other, and I’d like to make you as comfortable with him as possible, so that you could at least see that even though you would not accept him for genetic reasons, that I am with someone who makes me happy and who is a great person in general. Let me know

1 comment:

  1. Although you and your Dad are arguing in the letters I have to admit I am envious of the candor and engagement you have with him. My parents can't even argue with me about these kind of things. They just shudder.


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