Sisterhood Blog

Fetishizing Jewish Women

By Leah Berkenwald

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Jewish women are hot right now. According to an article in the men’s magazine Details, “Jewish women have become the ethnic fetish du jour.” And in true men’s magazine fashion, Christopher Noxon revels in the opportunity to eroticize and exoticize Jewish women; using dehumanizing terms like “cultural mutt” and “JILF,” meaning “Jew I’d like to…” — you get the idea.

This article does little more than call attention to the misogynistic trend it then goes on to abuse for shock value, and Irin Carmon does a great job of breaking it down at Jezebel. Yet the use of the word “Jewess” in the article was particularly troubling for me, as a Jewesses with Attitude blogger. Given the continued derogatory use of the word “Jewess,” can the term ever really be reclaimed? And how do Jewish women feel about being the object of a sexual fetish?

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Leah Berkenwald is the online communications specialist at the Jewish Women’s Archive, and a contributor to its Jewesses With Attitude blog, which cross-posts weekly with the Sisterhood.

Jack Thu. Dec 3, 2009

“What is this strange fascination with Jewish girls??”

—Robert Crumb

Jack Thu. Dec 3, 2009

On further reflection, this trend must must be giving communal leaders conniptions. For continuity, on one hand, getting Jewish boys interested in Jewish girls should be a good thing. On the other hand, we shouldn’t be encouraging immodest thoughts or actions. Quick, break out the “Women of the IDF” photo features and calendars!

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