Chamoraizel

Take a girl in her
sensuous beauty
Take a girl and tell her
men are beasts
Take a girl and teach her
men who look are beasts
men who lust are beasts

Take a girl and teach her
to disdain, to scorn
to be disgusted
with men who look
with men who lust
Take a girl and teach her to
hate her sensuous beauty

Take a girl and tell her
a good girl scorns and despises
Take a girl and show her
a good girl doesn’t feel that
curl of liquid warmth
when the beasts look at her
appreciatively

Take a girl and
teach her and tell her and teach her
Until you’ve robbed her of her girlhood
stolen all her womanhood
Take a girl until
all that’s left is a shell
and she’s disgusted with
herself

Take a girl and
teach her to hate
herself
Take a girl and
watch her take
her life


Note: Growing up, I was taught (explicitly) that men who look at me are animals – we called them “chamoraizel” – chamor = Hebrew for donkey, aizel = Yiddish for female donkey. I was also taught (implicitly) that the pleasure I felt when those chamoraizels looked at me meant there was something very wrong with me.

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Diana is my peace, my clear-eyed joy –
Apollo my delight, my blind desire

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9 thoughts on “Chamoraizel

  1. I know I’ve said this more than once, but I must repeat it: one must wonder about the mind and heart and soul of the first individual who came up with this sort of believe. I wonder if they spat at the mirror every time they dare to look at their faces.

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    1. It’s such a complicated mindset, and it twists one’s mind and heart into such painful contortions. Because of course, we were taught that eventually we would have to look pretty for our husbands – but it’s psychologically so hard to just switch from disdaining all male attention to prettying oneself for one male – or at least, so I’ve been told by girls who actually got married. I never stop being grateful that I had such a difficult time with shidduchim (matchmaking) and never got married.

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      1. Exactly. Remember the story about the daughter of the Tana who davened to become ugly because nothing she did made men stop looking at her, and had her face burned in a fire and was happy after that, that she wasn’t being nichshal men? No? Oh, right, you didn’t go to Bais Yaakov… Lucky you…

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      2. I’ve heard a lot of the crazy “tznius” stories told in BY, but that one is new to me. Do you happen to know the source? These things tend not to be quite what they are taught as.

        I mean, you can easily interpret that story as a cautionary tale about being too concerned about men looking at you.

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      3. I don’t know the source… I’ve been repeating that story all over hoping someone at some point recognizes it and can source it, but no luck yet. To be fair, it may not be a Tana’s daughter. It was a daughter of someone special and holy, as I remember learning it.

        And of course, it *could* be a cautionary tale, as you say. After finding out what the gemara *actually* says about isha kimchis, I’m inclined to believe that the source was indeed chastising this girl for being too concerned. But not really, because it depends on what the source is.

        Pair it, though, with what we learned in Yeshaya, that the churban happened because girls “bobbed” when they walked: 1) they would alternate short and tall girls so that they bobbed like waves and would look pleasing so men would look at them; 2) they would bounce on their heels as they walked, thus attracting attention; 3) they kept sachets of perfume in their heels and would crush them every time they walked past a group of men. So we were being taught to do the opposite and to very much be concerned about whether your actions (or face???) cause men to look at you.

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