Status Discrimination

Hang out at the bar of a wedding and watch the poor beleaguered barkeeper try to obey the law. A young lady approaches and orders a vodka and cranberry.

“Are you over 21?” asks the barkeeper.

“Look,” says the young lady, flashing her wedding ring.

“You could be 14 and married!” the barkeeper exclaims, exasperated. This is not the first time someone has tried that on him.

The young lady blinks. She is confused. She is married. Marriage is status. Marriage opens all doors, right?

I’ve watched this curious little interaction occur a handful of times. I think it highlights how skewed our perception of marriage is. In the Jewish community, it is marriage status that differentiates between “girl” and “woman”. Some young ladies labor to achieve this desirable status only for the freedom it gives them. Running up against the wall of secular opinion that age alone can make a girl into a woman is painful, confusing, and irritating.

“Look! I’m married! I should be able to do grownup things!”

The Jewish workplace (at least, the school/camp system) encourages this myth. Take a look at how responsibility is divvied up at your job. Notice how married people get the responsibility? The only person considered more responsible than a married woman is a woman with a child or two behind her.

For a while, I held a job where this “status discrimination” was open and acknowledged. That is, my superior was my superior because she was married, and therefore had to be more responsible than I was. (The fact that she wasn’t led to some sticky situations.) Her boss told me point blank that she wouldn’t trust anyone unmarried in certain positions of leadership. The fact that I had more training than many of her married staff members did not make me more eligible for a leadership position than the married women. Training shmaining—marriage is the best way to get promoted in the Jewish system. When I failed to obtain a ring, I eventually left. Some things are not worth fighting.


9 thoughts on “Status Discrimination

  1. Ugh. That’s just sick. And wrong. And STUPID. And I’m going to run out of adjectives, so I’m just going to stop. I know there’s a glass ceiling where I work, but at least it goes for all women, not just the unmarried ones. 😛

  2. I work for a large frum Jewish community organization. The glass ceiling is because there are certain (higher-paying) positions that can only be held by one with the title “Rabbi”.

  3. Listen to this. I have a friend that is real chassidish, so she basically knew a day before she got engaged that she was getting engaged. So she approaches her boss and is like ‘can i have a raise’ She get a No. 2 days after she gets engaged she goes back to the boss and is like ‘can i have a raise’ he says YES. How disgusting is that!!!

  4. That’s how it goes! My superior in this job was getting slightly more pay than me and zillions of benefits I didn’t get. She was married. I was not.

    Scraps: I’ve met the OU (Ask the) Rabbi in a Touro class. She’s my age and majoring in computers, I think. 😉

  5. Not worth fighting?
    On the contrary, it’s time for a lawsuit.

    If you can’t be bothered for the principle, then at least do it for the money, and let others benefit from the principle.

  6. the paradoox is that women are led to believe that their dedication to their career conflicts with their dedication to their families, but they can’t get ahead in their career without getting married and having kids. Go figure.

  7. Pingback: Friday Repost: It’s All About Status « Bad for Shidduchim

  8. Pingback: Quote of the Weekend: Status Discrimination Starts Early | Bad for Shidduchim

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