I didn't watch the Netflix show itself, just the dozens of angry FB posts appearing on my feed this morning, almost exclusively from Orthodox people who are angry and offended that Netflix has chosen this, you know, obviously distorted, biased, antisemitic and clearly fictionalized account of someone who left the community.
Things like, There is definitely something wrong with this woman.
She is not representative.
I'm cancelling Netflix.
She is just angry. Holding a grudge. Mentally ill.
Also cancelling NYT and all mainstream media that hates the Jews.
Being Orthodox is the best thing in the world, of course.
How could anyone say such things about the community?
Again, I haven't watched the show, so I'm not even sure what in particular she says on there that people find so offensive.
But I can for sure that this gangbang attack on the woman who dared to walk away tells you everything you need to know about Orthodoxy.
It's not JUST the ease with which people who dare think for themselves are labeled as outsiders. As angry. As having an agenda.
It's not JUST how gendered the language of insanity is, the many ways that women who don't do what's expected of them are cast as having mental illness. "Something wrong with them."
It's not JUST the mob-like group-think masqueraded as intelligent critique.
It's this non-stop defensiveness. The need to constantly say how amazing they are.
The Orthodoxy Is Not Like This line.
The whole Don't Listen to Her. None of it is True thing.
A very macho need to maintain self-serving narratives of self-importance. A dynamic that infuses the entire Jewish community, not just Orthodoxy. You see it in the Bibi world also. Like, how dare anyone question how amazing and perfect and superior Israel is. Same thing.
It's the need to violently crush anyone who dares call into question that Jewish or Jewish/Orthodox greatness.
It is, at its core, these comments are an expression of how Orthodox Jews truly believe that they are the most superior group in the universe. Special. Chosen. Amazing. Impeccable. Morally pure. Divinely inspired. Perfect. Authentic. Representatives of God's word. Whatever.
I mean, why is it SO HARD to allow a person, especially a woman, express the truth of her own experiences? Why is there such a need to tell the world that a woman who has had painful or traumatic experiences must be lying or exaggerating or fantastical? Why do members of the Orthodox community have such an urgent need to tell the world that she is, you know, making things up? Why? Why can't they just let her be? Why can't the Orthodox world just listen and empathize and maybe even, you know, look inward?
This is why. Because the story of traumas and hurts that are caused by the culture and community challenges this fundamental narrative that We Are The Best.
I grew up with that. In my family, we heard non-stop how Special we were. Special. Special. Special. Better than non-Jews. Better than non-Orthodox Jews. Better than any other sect or denomination or even family clan. Better than Feminists. Better than Career Women. Better than Average Americans. Better than Secular Jews. We were just better. Than everyone. We were The Best. At everything. Leaders. Special. Whatever.
It was a grandiose, deeply ingrained narrative that created some messed-up personalities and guided some bad life choices and that took me many years to cleanse from my own psyche.
And it is a narrative that makes it very difficult to have any kind of meaningful conversation about your own life and your own choices with people in that community, people who are so deeply invested in maintaining their own narratives of SpecialNess that any suggestion otherwise is seen as an existential threat.
This, here, is probably the main reason I am cut off from my family of origin. Not just because my mother tells people that Elana is Crazy. Angry. Making things up. Not just because my father dismisses anything I have to say because Elana Has An Agenda. Not just because my mother tells people I'm Embarrassing. Or that Elana Needs Help. It's mostly because it is impossible to actually have any real conversation about anything meaningful or genuine when your life experiences are seen as a threat to the primary ego-filled narrative of We Are Special. There is nowhere to even go, nobody to even talk to. Because every time I try to say to my father, "You hurt me," he responds with the gasp of "How can you say such a thing!" So that's the end of the conversation. It's just the end.
So, yeah, I don't need to watch the Netflix show to know exactly what's going on. But I think I'll stay away from Facebook for a few days so I don't have to be reminded of all of it.