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“Coastie” – the New JAP Slur

This is just one of several verses of a student-composed rap song and video making the rounds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and on the Internet, where by mid-December it had attracted more than 10,000 listeners. It’s a snide hit on out-of-state students from either coast, but in addition to the term’s built-in xenophobia its lyrics are widely viewed as anti-Semitic. They certainly link Jewish women, in particular, to materialism.

When students posted comments suggesting that the song (and its accompanying video) were at the least “in poor taste,” others replied with remarks like “cry me a river” and a reference to “rich stuck-up Jewish girls.”

In a November article in the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, Michelle A. Langer, a sophomore at UW-Madison, correctly linked the term to its precursor, the JAP, or Jewish American Princess, a term deployed against Jewish women on campus since the 1980s. The accusations are almost identical, though the clothing labels have changed: materialism, economic privilege, and in Wisconsin in 2009, the wearing of Uggs and North Face. Never mind the shift in brands from the 1980s. The intent is the same: to insult Jewish women. And as with the JAP slur, there are real consequences. Langer describes harassment of Jewish female students at football games, where they’ve been cursed out as the term “Coastie” was hurled at them. The parallels to incidents on campus reported in Lilith 25 years ago are eerie.

There’s more, of course. Just Google “Coastie.”

© 2011 Lilith Magazine