Misc

Why does this phrase make me cringe?

From a rather odd and quite depressing story in The Observer today comes a turn of phrase that makes me go: urggh.

‘I wrote the book with a very honest, respectful and light-hearted intention of helping women who interfaith date better understand the men with whom they’re spending time,’ she said.

Women who interfaith date? Men who interfaith date? Have you ever interfaith dated?

Why do I find this such a horrible phrase?

Let’s deconstruct comrades. First off dating – I don’t think I’ve uttered the word. Sorry if this sounds terribly provincial because I know you Londoners are slowly turning into Americans but where I grew up you go out with people. At the most you are seeing someone. I love these phrases – they are euphemistic but not too much so. After all you really do go out, you really do see someone. Likewise when it comes to the English euphamism for sex – sleeping with someone. Unless you are particularly athletic you usually do sleep together as well right?

But the American phrase dating is just a bit too euphemistic, a bit too cold as if the activity consists of little more than swapping gaps in a diary. Its like this other term that appears to have achieved universal usage in London these days – partner. The other day someone wanted to know if I was married or had a girlfriend and so they asked “Do you live with a partner?” I hate that word partner – it is such a utilitarian term with its removal of any sense of friendship, romance or, heaven forbid, sex.

And then interfaith? Firstly note it is now one-word as though there is some wholly accepted concept or community of interfaithness. Its become one of those nice cuddly, warm, positive phrases – interfaith is good, right? We all want constructive interfaith dialogue. Right? And there is a faith community out there that presumably attend those faith schools. It sort of works until you start to actually look at the meaning of the word faith and then realise we are talking about Muslims, Jews, Christians and Hindus. What a ‘community’ they are!

But leaving aside the whole faith business, what exactly does this interfaith dating involve? In this context the woman quoted is talking about gentile women who really, really, really want to go out with Jewish men. In my previously provincial life we would have said such women have a “thing about Jewish blokes”. But then interfaith dating sounds so much more sophisticated, so much more positive and progressive. Its inclusive (apart from barring all the atheists), its faith-based and its inter. It might work as a term to describe some community project but does anyone seriously think that people who are going out with someone of a different religion are doing so for some broader social goal?

Is it not the case that they just like each other ?

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