SN: When I suggested we discuss, “reputation,” I was thinking along the lines of someone’s image— people building these images of themselves. I was thinking of how we depict ourselves on social media and at parties— the way people act is different from the way they actually are.
BA: I was thinking along the lines of how the community views us— their expectations. How far you have gone physically with a guy and if you smoke weed among other aspects, I think, contribute to what people say about you. Someone’s reputation can be summed up in one word. It’s kind of like a Rorschach test, but instead of a psychologist asking you what first comes to mind when they show you an inkblot, someone will ask you, what do you think of someone? And one word or action will come to mind. It’s sad, but true.
JE: Image and reputation are two very different things though
SN: I was thinking of image as in girls who want to be a bad ass but they’re not. Or how girls want to be a goody-good. They’re trying to create an image of themselves.
JE: Okay, so image and reputation tie into each other.
BA: And I was saying how you build a reputation from drinking, drugs, and sexual encounters—
JE: Are you referring to like how guys are not scolded for hooking up as opposed to girls...?
FS: I wanted to bring that up, the double standards.
BA: We can talk about double standards a different time. But on that note, I do feel like a girl’s actions symbolize who they are whereas a guy’s actions don’t reflect on their image. A guy can go to a club for a few years, “get things out of his system,” maybe even become relig and he can still be considered a “good guy”. A girl can’t do those things. People won’t say,“she was getting things out of her system.” It will just hurt her reputation.
JE: It’ll reflect on the girl if it gets out. A girl can be quiet about it, they can be subtle about it. She gets scolded for the way she flaunts it. That’s when her rep is tainted.
BA: So reputation happens when people find out about it. That means reputation is how people perceive you and image is how you want to come across, how you want to be perceived.
SN: Social media fosters the image people are trying to prove.
BA: It’s all a facade though. People post pictures in certain places, with certain people to make themselves out to be a certain way.
SN: Well I’m so aware of it, I see right through it. They’re controlling their reputations by controlling their instagrams, twitters, paths and any other social platform. People judge you from social media, they think they know who you are from that and form preconceived notions, before you even meet them. People who don’t give a shit about what people think put what they want. People want to know your life and they take it and expose your worst self. Reputation is your worst self, not your best self.
BA: My parents are not rules people. They weren’t very strict. But my mom always taught me, “Your name is everything.” It really stayed with me and I try my best to maintain a good reputation. So yes, part of why I didn’t take my first drink till prom time never smoked weed or the reason why I’m prudent when it comes to physical intimacy is because I was brought up that way, and given, has to do with the social institution we grew up in. I truly believe not doing those things is mainly for myself though. Because Joey even said, no one has to find out.
I’m curious, and it goes back to double standards. Like let’s say you had sex—
SN: You’re screaming
BA: Oh sorry. Like let’s say you weren’t a virgin Joey—
SN: Are you asking whether or not he’s a virgin?
BA: No I’m not asking, like I don’t care— I don’t want to know (laughs) that doesn’t matter to me. I’m saying if you weren’t a virgin and you’re dating a girl, if she’s not a virgin is that a deal breaker? Because in this community, sex is associated with reputation.
JE: It depends on the girl and the scenario. If she was fucking a solid amount then for me I wouldn’t. But if she had a boyfriend for a while and she slept with him I personally would be okay with it but I know a lot of people wouldn’t.
FS: Side note- I had no idea people do that, I guess I’m naive thinking all girls wait until marriage.
SN: Sex and weed tie back to the double standard we were talking about. Taboo for a girl not taboo for a boy.
JE: I’ll tell you right now; weed is at the least of a taboo it’s ever been.
FS: I feel like in a lot of people’s eyes it is taboo. I had my rumspringa on Kivunim, and although my friends here see smoking as unthinkable, if I’m in a situation where I want to... I’m not like oh (baby voice) “I’m against it.”
BA: But I hate, see, I hate when people do that. What you just did- trying to justify your actions. We try to explain ourselves and make it known that we don’t do certain things. I asked a guy the other day if he had an ID I could borrow and he said, “Since when do you drink?” My first instinct was to get defensive like, “Sometimes. It's a once a month thing. I rarely drink." Why do we explain ourselves? So we don't look bad.
FS: Because we were brought up that it’s viewed as dirty. Like when I was in high school I’d look down at people who drank and smoked.
BA: So your view of what it means to have a bad reputation changes once you do those things yourself.
SN: I thought it was that we’re changing with time- that as we get older such behavior becomes acceptable, as a whole we treat it as normal. Really, though, it is the times that are changing. I did a photo shoot with these 7th graders and they were talking about a party they went to and I hear from the back seat “I like this guy so I’m kissing him”... What?!?
JE: Times are changing, the community became less insular. We’re opening up to much more now with schools like Heshel, Ramaz, 5 towns and we’re becoming friends with those kids. It used to be just Flatbush and Magen-
SN: -AND HILLEL
JE: -but since we’re becoming friends with those schools, whose kids were always doing that at a young age, we’re getting exposed to it.
FS: Is it with age that we mature or are today’s times and technology maturing faster than kids should keep up with? When I was in 8th grade we had our first kissing scandal. Now they’re sexting. That’s not okay. Even in my sister’s grade (6th grade) this is happening. You don’t just turn a leaf at 21 and do what society says is acceptable now. The standards of age at which things become socially acceptable is dropping over time.
JE: Some girls just don’t know how to express themselves and shit happens.
BA: Okay, so do you think people’s reputations can stay with them from way back then?—
SN: They can change
BA: Obviously they can change, I’m saying do you think people who ask about her or date her or talk about her…does that still come up? That she sexted in 8th grade?
JE: Not nearly as much. It’s more of a laugh. You were in 8th grade what the hell did you know? Okay so you sent out naked pictures in 8th grade are you a slut? No, you were a slut in 8th grade.
BA: So when do you think something you do stays with you? 11th grade? When does it really matter?
SN: Well, if it’s a repeated offense. And you don’t learn from it.
BA: You know in high school when everything someone does constitutes who they are? Like oh she was the drinker oh he was the... I don't know. When I look back that’s what I think of them as. Whoever I became in high school, that’s how I’m perceived now.
SN: It’s such a shame because in high school you’re too young to give a shit. It’s like I don’t even know who I am, how do you know who I am?! I’m in college now and I still don’t know who I am.
JE: High school is a more permanent reputation. You’re right. That’s very different than 8th grade tits.
BA: Okay so 11th grade boobs are a big deal?
JE: I don’t think so.
SN: What do you mean? What if it gets out?
FS: Wait you want to hear the funniest thing in the whole entire world?
SN: No, we’re getting off topic.
FS: Fine. But I think I’m different from who I was in high school…
BA: You are but it doesn’t matter!! There are 185 people in your grade, half of which you’ll never see again and they’ll only remember you as who you were in those years!!
JE: But did you change from who you were in high school Frieda? I assume your friends are still the same, the things you do are still the same, you didn’t change that much why would your reputation change?
SN: Because your rep is not who you are. It’s how people see you as. So when people leave high school and grow up, they aren’t concerned about the same things. The rep they gave you in highschool, it’s not that it’s inaccurate. It’s just that who gives a shit anymore.
JE: Well there’s no real judgment anymore but the reputation remains. Let’s say I want to date a girl and I ask my friend do you know anything about her, really all I want to know is: who are her friends, does her family have any retarded things I should know about, and is she a whore. Those are the 3 things I want to know. At the end of the day those are the three things that really matter.
Other than that we’re not looking to be like, did she do this, this, or this. We’re past that. We’re all on the same page. We need to start building lives. And not talking about stupid shit we spoke about in high school.
BA: Okay, so what makes someone a whore? What counts as a weird family thing? Cheating? Abuse?
JE: Yes like those kind of things. Extreme things. Not like oh her parents are divorced. Not like why, what happened, who are they. They’re people. I’m talking about really abnormal. Not like oh her mom doesn’t go to Steli’s.
BA: Right. In our community family means everything. When either my brother and I go on a date my parents have to know who the family is. Sometimes I find that unfair because if the guy is a great guy but his family has a bad reputation... And vice versa...
SN: My parents also need to know the family of any boy I date before he takes me out... “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” they say, which I believe there is complete truth to. But that is the rule to which there are exceptions. It wouldn’t be a rule without a following, and majority follows that rule. That doesn’t go to say that there are few who defy those odds, bad apples fall from good trees and good apples come from bad trees. It’s not fair then to the kids who are not like their families in good ways but are still punished for it.
FS: So for every case we need to know the context. In a perfect world it shouldn’t matter who his family is because you’re marrying him for him. But in our community you don’t just marry the guy and move across America, no, you move into his Deal house for the summer. His family is very important.
BA: In some cases It’s unfair that you are your family and didn't choose to be born into it. Parents push their children to go out with other people because they come from great families but the guy might be a jerk.
FS: But I feel like most of those set ups are more political. Parents social climb as much as their children do. To take it back to “image”, they also want the connection to that “better family”. And by “better family” I mean either so much money or outspokenly religious- double points if a family has both.
We all know people marry their children off to wealthier families with richer histories than others... People with money could get away with murder in this community... It will make every friday night table conversation, but they will literally use cash to wash their name clean.
SN: It’s not that families are held at different standards but a lapse of judgment can slip under the radar if money flows that way... or if you are away...
BA: When some people go to Israel for the year, they seem to think they can do what they want, since it won’t affect their reputation if no one finds out. It goes back to the question of whether people are holding back from doing things because it will affect their reputation, or they’re doing it for themselves.
When I was in Israel I had more than enough opportunities to get with random guys but I never did, even though I knew nobody would find out. That’s how I knew those values were my own. On the other hand, I’d been dying to get a nose stud and got one while I was there for the week. But I took it out before I came home. If nose studs were not taboo in our community and didn’t affect my reputation, I’d be rocking one.
FS: For me I would feel bad if I hooked up with randoms, who I don’t feel anything for. I don’t know—my group of friends are good girls, and I feel like I’m a good girl. For me, myself, my morals, sleeping at night, I’d feel bad if I did that.
BA: Also, it’s all temporary pleasure.
SN: Wait—we can’t talk about morals without talking about religion. Because we’re talking about sex and hooking up and all these things and when you’re talking about whether you’re doing these things for the reputation or for yourself a lot of the reason holding people back is religion.
BA: For the sake of this conversation, religion can be synonymous to “our community”. People don’t do certain things because of how it’s viewed in our community, since our community values are rooted in religion.
I have a question, if you don’t have sex is it solely because of our community and religion?
JE: Religion and community are very different.
FS: I was talking to this guy in our community and he and his friends are holding out because they don’t think it’s fair for their wives to be virgins and they want a virgin. Okay. I think that’s great. Mabrook, of course. Gorgeous. But, I don’t think that’s religion. It’s morals. It’s fairness. He wants a good girl.
BA: Oh my goodness. Can we please talk about that term, “good girl.” I’ve heard it a few times in different context. I was at a party recently where a guy was telling me he hooked up with a soldier on birthright. When he asked me if I did the same, I said no. I can’t fathom hooking up with a guy that I’m not in a relationship with. And he said, “Ya know, that’s what I like about you! You’re a good girl. It’s hard to find good girls like you these days.”
So I get that “good girl” award for not hooking up with randoms? Is that all it takes to be a “good girl?” What does a good girl entail?
FS: And what does a “good boy” mean? Someone who will go to shul on Saturdays and stay faithful? That’s not fair! For girls, we’re judged our whole lives! Boys are allowed to “get things out of their system” for five years!!!! If a girl slips up for five minutes, she’s destroyed.
SN: I don’t know what people think of me, and frankly it’s impossible to know your own reputation. I just don’t take shit, and stand up for myself. I will justify my actions because among the many sins our community will persecute you for, stepping off that impossible pedestal of being a “good girl” should not be one of them. I do care, as does anyone who wants to participate in the community. People think I don’t give a shit but I just don’t take shit. There’s a difference.
FS: Everyone have a drink without worrying about your reputations and mind your own business!