Sisterhood Blog

Embracing the 'Coastie' Label

By Elissa Strauss

  • Print
  • Share Share

Coastie, a new term for out-of-state students that is floating around the University of Wisconsin, Madison, definitely seems like a euphemism for Jewish American Princess. And I am just not sure it is such a bad thing.

The term, which, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has been used at the school for around a decade, has just peaked in popularity due to a the “Coastie song,” and subsequent YouTube video, that has been getting its fair share of attention.

Lyrics include:

What’s a coastie?

Black tights all day

That’s a coastie

Starbucks, big shades!

She a coastie

Always blowin’ daddy’s money

You a coastie

My East Coast Jewish honey

And later:

My Jewish American princess baby

Walks wit a swag and talks so crazy

East Coast accent,

East Coast fashion

Black spandex wit an ass like Bascom!

Smokin on a cig as she passin,

I graduated from UW, Madison in 2001, and I can’t remember anyone using the word “coastie,” though its in-state counterpart “sconie” was in circulation. Instead, we relied on good old “JAP,” though that, of course, was only something you were allowed to say publicly if you were Jewish and among Jews. I never identified with this cohort — I actually avoided wearing the color black for three years as a way to disassociate myself with the group — but I can attest to the fact that these pretty conflated in-state/ out of state, Jewish/ non-Jewish divisions existed along with a simmering tension.

This is why, despite the obvious stereotypes put forth in the song — which, by the way, I find kind of catchy and fun — I don’t think this is a bad thing. I think, if taken lightly, which the song genuinely seems to do, the whole “coastie” phenomenon might actually give students an opening to talk about these divisions, something we couldn’t really do.

Since “coastie” is a new label, unlike the already loaded JAP, there is room for improvisation of meaning. It has a colloquial lightness to it, and, in the case of UW, Madison, has its counterpart in “sconies” — removing much of the sting of JAP.

Labels can be dangerous and limiting, but, on the other hand, a shared language and a sense of humor can open doors. I hope the young Badgers have some fun with this.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: University of Wisconsin, JAP, Coastie

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.


Comments
MM Mon. Dec 21, 2009

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006, and I can assure that the term "coastie" is rarely, if ever, used playfully or in good humor. It is only used to refer to Jewish women who are perceived to be materialistic and vapid. Interestingly enough, the term is hardly ever applied to Jewish men. Like the term JAP, "coastie" is motivated by sexism and anti-semitism. (Why, indeed, is it only women who are perceived to be materialistic? Idiotic? Are they some how less deserving of material wealth than men? Then non-Jews?)

There is also a significant sense of socio-economic friction behind the term's use.

An ancedote-->In the women's bathroom in College Library on the UW Campus I saw the following enscribed on the stall door "F--k all you coastie Jewish bitches."

Not exactly something I found "fun" or in "good humor."

e Tue. Dec 22, 2009

I agree. This does not sound "playful" to me and I wouldn't be taking it so lightly. It's just another form of anti-semitism, with a frat-house sexist twist.

Daniel Brenner Tue. Dec 22, 2009

ok, I am ancient compared to the writer and commentator above - I graduated UW -Madison in 1991 - but I have to say that while I certainly find the video disturbing on multiple levels, it is more a sign of the class divide that develops between the Freshmen who live in the private dorms (the Towers and Statesider which are featured in the video) and those who live in the public dorms than it is about Jewish folks on campus. I was a Jew from North Carolina but I lived in the public dorms (Sellery B)and I ended up in social circles with folks from Wisconsin. I experienced very little anti-Semitism. I'm not sure what happens on other public university campuses, but the idea of "private" dorms which end up populated by out-of State students is going to lead to the "Coastie" phenomenon...and lots more bad rap videos.

BK Tue. Dec 29, 2009

If it wasn't anti-semitic, it wouldn't include anything about being Jewish. Mr. Brenner, it's idiotic to hold a double standard for racism. There would be no ambiguity on anyone's part if the object of derision in a merely "bad rap video" were African-American, Asian, or whathaveyou.

Why are we so willing to trivialize anti-semitic misogyny? Both you and the author seem quite happy to do so, and it's high time we start calling you folks out as "race traitors."

william Fri. Jan 8, 2010

buy home




Find us on Facebook!
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.