Friday, December 4, 2009

Return of the Jewess

So this article is disturbing. True, it's been terribly damaging that the ideal of beauty in our culture tends to exclude Jewish women. Actually, it excludes most women, but there are also a whole bunch of stereotypes about Jewish women that have made it doubly damaging. Even though I'm not a woman, and am married to a non-Jewish woman, I feel like it's had an effect on me. So I've enjoyed some of the attention Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis, Esti Ginsburg, Bar Rafaeli, etc. have gotten.

But there's a difference between recognizing that Jewish women can be attractive, sometimes even exceptionally so, and making a fetish of "JILFs." It really wasn't so long ago that the stereotypes of Jewish women generally ran along the lines of exotic fetish objects. Those stereotypes were just as harmful. And any familiarity with the history of antisemitism should suggest that this pattern of alternating stereotypes is part of the way antisemitism propagates. It's not progress when the pendulum swings back. We need to just make it stop.

I do like the quote from Joanna Angel at the end of the article, though:
"I've desecrated Christian traditions before," says Angel. "In one video, I put a cross-shaped dildo inside me, but I'd never do that with a menorah—that's just creepy."


fliersal said...

I'm sorry, but this argument is silly. Jewish women are ridiculously overrepresented in film and TV. Anyone who says otherwise simply doesn't know which actresses are Jewish or not, and thus is unqualified to talk about it at all. Jewish women are only 2% of the US population, yet some of the famous ones you named are just the tip of the iceberg. I remember there was a day last week when the late shows had nothing but Jewish women as guests - Julianna Margulies, Lisa Kudrow, and Chelsea Handler on Leno/Kimmel/etc., all on the same night. It is not that uncommon. I'm annoyed at the constant minimizing of this accomplishment by people who out to hit the books (or, rather, the internet).

Matt said...

Actually, I think you misunderstand the argument.