Reclaim the J.A.P.
Like, oh my g-d! Like, like really…If it looks like a J.A.P. and sounds like a J.A.P., is it a J.A.P. (Jewish American Princess)?
Maybe you knew this girl in middle school, or maybe you were this girl in high school: a naïve, airhead Jewess living in a bubble, with no regard for the world beyond the tip of your nose. I have been called a J.A.P. on occasion and hated the general reference. Firstly, I am not American (I know its semantics but still, I am proudly Canadian). Secondly, a Jewish American Princess (J.A.P.) essentially is a nickname for a spoiled and entitled Jewish women—it’s a racist and sexist offensive slur because it implies that being Jewish makes you spoiled, rich, and entitled. Third, you do not really know me at all. You are literally judging me—because if you really knew me, you would know that this term does not fit me at all. A J.A.P. at one point in your growing up years made your life a living hell for a series of reasons but most likely you did not really know her (she barely knew herself). This was never my mode of operation. I started to think that, in today’s age, the J.A.P. of yesteryear is no longer. Because we all knew them or hated them or hated ourselves for being seen as them.
So what does a J.A.P. emulate today?
The rad chicks that comprise Canadian Jewish women cannot be easily essentialized. We are as diverse as the landscape of our great country from the Rockies to Pier 44.
Like many once offensive terms, this is a call to reclaim the term J.A.P. I propose we turn the J.A.P. to represent what we really are here in Canada—A J.A.P. DEFINED: a fiercely moral, family centred, health conscience, career focussed, high academic achieving, doctors, lawyers, teachers, mothers, daughters, and sisters, assertive, driven, good-hearted, outspoken, philanthropic, dynamic women that happen to be well dressed and trend-setters. When men are outspoken, they are called strong. When a woman demands what she wants, she is a bitch or, for our purposes, a J.A.P.
To be a Jewess is to be a princess. A princess evokes royalty (everyone loves Kate) and royalty is a good thing. The Canadian J.A.P. is special, important and unique; something to be revered, to strive towards, to emulate. Ultimately we must reclaim the J.A.P; we must work together to redefine the term to literally mean a powerful woman that knows what she wants.
First call to action: treat our fellow Jewess Canadian sisters with respect. We are our own worst critics. We can stop the mudslinging and together we can stand up and reclaim the J.A.P. Loshon Hora (speaking ill of others) is a serious offense in our tradition; Together let’s speak only kindness of our fellow J.A.P.s.
Together we must proclaim that being a J.A.P. is a good thing and we must unite on this front. Together lets reclaim and redefine the acronym without changing the letters but by changing the implications of the term. A Smart, strong and proud Jewish woman that is driven to change the world; and dress well at the same time.
Alana orginally published Reclaim the J.A.P. with the Jewish Tribune.
How to cite this page
Kayfetz, Alana. "Reclaim the J.A.P.." 25 April 2013. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on December 5, 2022) <https://jwa.org/blog/reclaim-jap>.