Photography By: Shelly Nahama
Written by: Bonnie Azoulay Edited by: Frieda Sitt
Amid the Passover traditions like dumping a bucket of wine into the toilet while reciting the ten plagues or going on a wild goose chase looking for the afikomen, there is one such custom designated for the oldest unmarried girl on the table— to take out the seder plate. It’s deemed to be good luck by grandmothers and nosy aunts alike that seemingly think holding a metal plate with contents that include bitter herbs and matza will hasten the meeting of your nasib. We wait outside the dining room to be called in; symbolically waiting on a man. This symbolic “vanity tray” is filled with beauty and hair products to make our appearance more beautiful because that’s what we think matters most. That’s what will lure him in and make our meeting come faster. Girls are just waiting to get married— prepping. Waiting for someone to call like sitting ducks, when we should be prepping academically for a career— making something more of ourselves. Not waiting on a man to support us financially, make us more confident, waiting on a man to call us.
My parents, jokingly (or maybe not so jokingly), are waiting for the day I propose to my future husband. I reassure them that will not happen—well at least not right now—due to a nonexistent boyfriend. I can’t argue with their supposition though. There are more than enough testaments for this self-fulfilled prophecy.
When I was in the 5th grade and AOL was all the rage, I Instant messaged my crush and wrote, “Hey you wanna go out?” In those days you didn’t actually go out. You just, like, said hi to eachother in the hallways. Or if you were lucky shared Nacho Cheese the next day during snack time. I wasn’t particularly cool or anything. In fact, I was almost at the very bottom of the “hierarchy of cool” food chain. But I guess he couldn’t resist my super hot screen name, LilBon2005, and so evidently, he said yes. That’s how I tell the story, anyways.
“I can’t believe you asked out a boy,” my classmates teased me. I came home crying to my mom. My crush broke up with me a whole week later and my ten-year-old self couldn’t help but blame the breakup on my illiteracy on gender roles and his embarrassment over the fiasco. I know now it was probably that lame screen name that ended it—although his Spacehenri65 was not any better.
In more recent years, I’ve come to realize, I’m still very much like my ten-year-old self. My friends and I were at this end-of-the-summer party and we were standing on a Soho rooftop talking amongst ourselves— just waiting. Waiting for some guys to talk to us. Waiting for the hors d’oeuvres they promised us on the invite.
I turned to the group of guys standing next to us, who looked like they too were just waiting and said, “Hey, do you guys know where the hors d’oeuvres are?” Definitely the most absurd thing one can ask after “Hey, where can I go take a piss?” But one guy said, “I was wondering the same thing.” I doubt it.
Anyways, I knew I hit it off with one of the guys we met but when I was about to leave with my friends he still hadn’t asked me for my number. Was I supposed to go home and wait for him to what, Facebook message me? It was the year 2014 and I was not having it. I told him, “When am I seeing you again?” He took out his phone, I gave him my number, and he took me out that week. When my friends tell the story they say I asked him for his number—But I might as well have.
I was on a trip one weekend and one girl said something so brave in one of our sessions. “Girls are sitting ducks,” She said. We wait by the phone for a guy to pick up and call. We’re waiting on them. It’s all in their hands whether they want to ask us out.“ I never looked at it that way. She’s right. In a gender role society, men make the first move. Men are the ones that ask the girl out. They’re the ones that pick up and call. But I think what some women forget is we are the impetus.
Girls are so afraid much like guys, to show interest; to be upfront. So instead, they wait. They’re never going to ask you for your number because like you, they quite frankly, probably don’t have the guts. (Guts: for use of a Jewish friendly replacement word) And if you both don’t have the guts then the phrase “man up” has just proven to be gender neutral or completely void. Girls need to “Woman up” and say, “We should hang out some time.” It’s not pushy, it’s being a go-getter. Being a go-getter should apply to all aspects of life—Whether it’s with a boy, a career, anything at all you’re passionate about. You are the impetus. Wait on nobody.