Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sans fards

The student health center used to be one of my love-hate relationships. The latter, because they often seem ill-equipped to handle problems other than depression and substance-abuse issues. As it happens, I have no idea how they are on those counts - I just have to assume these are their strengths, because whatever it is you go in for, these are, as a rule, at the center of the discussion. Got a fever? Are you also feeling sad? Sprained your ankle? So which illegal drugs do you use? Legal? Drinks-per-week? Given that it's NYU, the depression-screening makes sense, and that it's college, same goes for the debauchery-screening. But for your everyday grad student past the age of fun, yet overall cheerful, yet with strep-like symptoms, the place can be a pain.

As delighted as I was to find out that whatever's going on and making me come to campus in a paler-than-usual sick-and-makeup-free state, it isn't strep, I do rather wish I'd just waited the extra hour for the other cold symptoms to start, rather than pay $5 for the walk-in. That there's a fee at all for this for students is new, as of August, it seems. No love.

In other news-that-isn't-at-all-surprising, and in keeping with the mixed-couples theme, there's an organization (via) set on removing especially hot Jewish women from relationships with The Goyim. (Your everyday makeup-free Jewish grad students still reeling at having had to pay $5 for 'you have a cold' are, however, free to date as they please.)

As a Gawker commenter points out, it's odd that the focus is on Jewish-woman-Gentile-man relationships, given a) that these are popularly assumed not to exist, and b) that the children resulting from said relationships 'count' as Jews, according to Jewish law. But maybe things are seen differently in Israel, where the group is based, and where the Jewish women look a touch less washed-out than, uh, some of their Diaspora counterparts.

20 comments:

Matt said...

Maybe strep would have been better, as then you could take antibiotics and feel better quite quickly. With a cold you just have to wait it out. (I like a nice mixture of orange juice, honey, and cognac, served quite warm, to deal with cold symptoms but it's not too practical if you have to work.) I guess it can justify being a "stay-a-bed", though.

Britta said...

I had a friend who went 3 weeks before getting diagnosed with tuberculosis, because every time she went to the student health care center they kept trying to convince her she was pregnant. She tried to explain her symptoms were rapid weight loss, fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing, but basically all they did was make her take a bunch of pregnancy tests. Finally, she stopped by the hospital, where she was admitted immediately and held under quarantine for 2 weeks.

Phoebe said...

Matt,

I was sort of hoping it was strep, for that reason. Of course the nose-symptoms began just in time for me to teach... So far orange juice (the usual way) and Advil have been doing the trick.

Britta,

Student health centers seem designed, understandably, yet annoyingly, to help college students with predictable college-student problems, i.e. the problems that can arise at a frat party.

Paul Gowder said...

At Stanford, I'm told that basically any woman who walks into the health center gets, like Britta, a pregnancy scare.

At Harvard, they simply couldn't diagnose jack shit. I once had a torn meniscus that they couldn't figure out for a year, which was then effortlessly patched up by a doctor in rural Oregon.

Phoebe said...

Paul,

NYU's not big on pregnancy scares - perhaps the assumption is that there aren't enough men, straight or otherwise, around for this to be a concern? Or perhaps it's assumed that pregnancy is something this set will take care of, pre- or post-, and that the more dangerous problems are drug- and depression-related?

PG said...

UVa health was pregnancy-obsessed. Columbia reportedly is generous with the sleep medications.

Phoebe said...

PG,

Does Columbia offer sleep meds if you come in for something unrelated? Because there have seriously been times at NYU when I thought they were about to hand me anti-depressants for a head-cold if I didn't speak up quickly enough in response to the questions about whether I'd had a loss of interest in my usual activities or however they phrase it. Because, um, obviously I was feeling worse than usual. You just have to be very, very clear about which kind of "worse" it is. And then you have to douse yourself in hand sanitizer, given that for all the talk of depression, 99% of the others in the waiting area have colds worse than yours.

Russ said...

I know little about NYU, unfortunately, other than the fact that my son is on tenter-hooks right now, hoping to be accepted, but I have an observation about your "other news."

It turns out that there is a rationale for wanting to stop Jewish woman / Gentile man relationships. As the Gawker commentator notes, the offspring will be Jewish; however, it is rather likely that they will not be raised as Jews, and will not identify as Jews. In fact, this is directly related to the Biblical passage which serves as the source of the matrilineal descent point: Deut. 7:3-4, which warns that in such a case, the non-Jewish father "will turn your son away from following Me" ("son" in this case means the son of the intermarried couple).

Phoebe said...

Russ,

Last survey I saw on the topic (mentioned here) pointed out that in intermarried couples, the kids are far more likely to be raised Jewish if the mother's the Jewish partner.

Becca said...

It's Columbia too. I hadn't been to college or college health services in a long time. When I walked in to get a referral to a specialist I've been seeing for a longtime condition, they handed me a the depression questionnaire and you know, that did actually depress me.

Andrew Stevens said...

Yes, but Russ is correct. While it is true that children of intermarried Jewish women are more likely to be raised Jewish than intermarried Jewish men (hardly shockingly, since the children of one were born Jewish by Jewish custom, and the others weren't), the article you linked to says:

"That said, only a minority of children of intermarried Jewish women or Jewish men grow up to identify as Jews."

PG said...

Andrew,

That would explain a generalized opposition to any intermarriage by Jews; it does not explain why "the focus is on Jewish-woman-Gentile-man relationships."

Andrew Stevens said...

PG, yes it does. Because only the children of Jewish women are Jewish. You can definitely also make the case (and I'm sure many do) that Jewish men are required to marry these Jewish women, but that can always be handled through divorce and remarriage. The important thing would be convincing Jewish women in their child-bearing years.

PG said...

"Because only the children of Jewish women are Jewish."

How do you understand the term "Jewish women"? My closest friend who is Jewish is the daughter of a born-Jewish father and a not-born-Jewish mother who converted upon marriage. If the highest priority were preserving Jewish identity, wouldn't it make more sense to focus on converting the non-Jews whom Jews wish to marry? (I'm betting that the majority of children of born-Jew and converted-Jew marriages do identify as Jewish.) Or are you taking the view that only born-Jewish women can have Jewish babies, and my friend who fully identifies as Jewish isn't really a Jew because her mom was merely a convert?

Andrew Stevens said...

I don't have any view at all since I'm not Jewish. However, if my understanding of the law is correct, a converted woman's children are born Jewish. But it's not realistic to expect converts; this very rarely happens for any religion, but it's got to be rarest for a generally non-proselytizing religion such as Judaism.

PG said...

But it's not realistic to expect converts; this very rarely happens for any religion, but it's got to be rarest for a generally non-proselytizing religion such as Judaism.

Spontaneously discovering that one wants to be a Jew is very rare; being induced to convert due to marriage is much more common. If someone really just cares about maximizing Jewish babies, they're likely to have more success by telling Jewish women that a guy who really loves them would be willing to convert, than by telling them they should limit their dating options to men who are already Jews.

Andrew Stevens said...

I'd be prepared to agree with that, mostly because it's hard to imagine my caring less. (Don't get me wrong; I would be very sad if the Jewish religion intermarried into total extinction. But if it hasn't done so by now after thousands of years of persecution, I think it will survive a couple of models marrying Gentiles.) I was merely pointing out that it would make sense to care about who Jewish women are marrying and not care very much what Jewish men are doing, provided there are enough to marry the Jewish women in their child-bearing years.

In any case, the group Phoebe is writing about probably isn't doing precisely what you think they're doing. Their actual modus operandi is to help extricate Jewish women from marriages and relationships with Arabs. Along the way, they also gave their opinion that Bar Refaeli should dump Leonardo DiCaprio and marry a nice Jewish boy instead. I have very little doubt that the group is also opposed to Jewish men marrying non-Jews, whether or not they are vocal about that in particular. For all I know, they would also be quite happy to approve of the marriage if DiCaprio announced he was going to convert.

Andrew Stevens said...

Oh, by the by, you're betraying your irreligion there. (This is fine; I'm an atheist myself.) If a man is, for example, a devout Christian because he believes Christianity is true, he could really, really love a woman and still not be willing to convert to her religion or have his children raised in it. It is very easy for those of us who don't believe in any religion to assume that there aren't any people who really, truly believe in their religion, but I can assure you that there are and they are not so easily converted, just because they really love someone of another religion.

Britta said...

Spontaneously discovering that one wants to be a Jew is very rare; being induced to convert due to marriage is much more common.

Of course, then if it all goes wrong, you have the child being baptized on TV by the dad, and the mom issuing a restraining order against church attendance.

(I agree with you, I was just thinking about the term "induced" to convert.)

PG said...

Britta,

Yes, I had that case in mind as well, but I don't know of any group that's telling women to avoid marrying total asshats.

Andrew,

Someone who believes very strongly in Christianity (or Islam) would have a tough time marrying a Jew anyway. How do you handle living with and loving someone whom you don't expect to see in the afterlife?

It's not my "irreligion" that's at issue in my thinking "if s/he loved you, s/he'd convert"; it's my observations of actual non-Jews seriously dating Jews. The idea that someone or something would warrant a religious conversion is so common as to have been summed up many centuries ago by Henry IV: "Paris is worth a Mass." It's on display in popular culture in films like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, wherein the WASP fiance cheerfully gets baptized in the Greek Orthodox church so he can marry a Greek woman. Sure, this indicates the person converting doesn't have a strong attachment to his prior faith, but again, someone who did have such an attachment presumably would be trying to get his partner to convert.