Thursday, September 27, 2007

Jewish Jokes and Such

Work is weird for me. My newsroom is not a place I feel totally comfortable being myself. I try to open up to people, be myself and often find myself the subject of ridicule. I think it's partly the fact that I'm a 24-year-old woman. I think it's partly that I have a job a few others I work with wanted. I also think it's partly because people know I have thin skin.

Anyway, the point of this blog is that someone made a Jewish joke in my general vicinity today. And, yes, it was directed toward me.

I won't repeat the joke here. But I will tell you it was made by a man who is married to a non-practicing Jewish woman. A woman who spent some time living in Israel as a child, but has all but abandoned religion. Maybe that matters. Maybe that doesn't.

What matters most is that I didn't know how to react. We all make jokes based on stereotypes. Sometimes it's a joke about a sorority girl. I know I've directed a few of those at my friend, who is a sorority alumnae. She laughs most of the time. Sometimes the jokes seem a little more personal.

So how did I react? Well, I guess you could say I didn't. I didn't join in the laughter that seemed coming from all sides at me in my workplace. I think I muttered a "heh" of acknowledgement.

Ryan says he would have told people it wasn't funny. I guess I'm not brave enough for that yet. I think I was scared to be seen as the crybaby in the newsroom, though I might already have that reputation. Luckily, it was at the tailend of my shift, and I was able to gather my stuff and leave work before my emotions got the better of me.

Ever since my decision to explore conversion, I've been faced with weird looks and ignorant questions. I know for the most part these acquaintences and co-workers do not mean harm. No one has said anything that would get them fired from a radio show, but the nuanced comments still sting.

I remind myself that my sensitivity is my Achilles' heel. But I also realize that jokes about certain issues -- race, religion, sexuality and gender chief among them -- might permeate even the thickest skin. I likely will be faced with these stereotypes throughout my life. Hopefully I'll know how to respond in the future.

1 comment:

Jody said...

A few years ago when Buzz was in optometry school we went with some friends for a getaway weekend in all places-Arkansas! One night as we were sitting out overlooking a beautiful lake one of our friends started talking about how he jewed somebody down in a recent purchase he made. Buzz and I were immediately uncomfortable but at the age of 24,like you, said nothing. Now, this was a good friend of ours and I know he would never had said anything that was hurtful to us. I truly believe he didn't realize what he was saying or that it might be offensive to us. I would like to think that at age 54 we would have explained why that comment was inappropriate. A few years ago I was a facilitator for a Prejudice Elimination workshop for high school juniors in the Omaha Public Schools. We had alot of discussions about how words can be hurtful and most importantly how to be sensitive and respectful to all people. Now for jokes. It's interesting that when non-Jewish people tell Jewish jokes we find it offensive yet Jewish people tell Jewish jokes to each other all the time. Maybe that's part of the problem, I don't know. Anway, I'm sorry you were made to feel uncomfortable. Maybe the newsroom needs a course in sensitivity training!!!!