Sisterhood Blog

Why It's OK To Call Miley Cyrus Stupid

By Johnna Kaplan

Whether you read the Jewish press, the celebrity gossip blogs, or both, you are no doubt aware by now that Miley Cyrus, most recently famous for licking objects a dog would have the good sense to avoid, told Hunger TV why she wants to be in control of her image: “It can’t be like this 70-year-old Jewish man that doesn’t leave his desk all day, telling me what the clubs want to hear.”

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Miley Cyrus

Is this an anti-Semitic thing to say? Well, yes. Does Miley hate Jews? I don’t know. Anti-Semitism is the default setting for many people, whether they’re conscious of it or not. Having been raised Christian and given a minimal education in the bubble-world of child stardom, it would be understandable if Cyrus never developed any real understanding of the history of different religious and ethnic groups. Her statement that she wanted producers to give her new album a sound that “just feels black” indicates her lack of cultural sensitivity or knowledge of American musical history. My guess is that Cyrus is probably not a true bigot. She is probably, primarily, just stupid.

If that allegation sounds surprising or nasty, it’s because, outside of Internet comment sections, well-known women are not often called out for their lack of brains. Up to a point this represents great progress; not so long ago many people, if not most people, believed women were intellectually inferior to men. Now, thankfully, that view pops up much less frequently, and it is treated as inflammatory when it does. These days, when someone wants to attack a woman in the public sphere, the target is usually her looks or weight, not her mind. (That is damaging in its own ways, of course.) And enlightened people today, for the most part, believe that even if a woman is young, scantily clad, and has a job that doesn’t entail deep thinking, that she is certainly capable of leading an intellectual life.

But none of that changes the fact that some women — just like some men — are just… kind of… dim.

It is possible that Cyrus happens to be a marketing genius and is so devoted to making herself short-term famous that she is willing to sacrifice her reputation for record sales and clicks. It is also possible that her use of black people as props, her insinuations that Jews control the music industry, and her boasts about throwing lit cigarettes out of moving cars into the dry California brush are all part of a genius master plan. Maybe Cyrus doesn’t really believe that people stop wanting to have sex at 40, or the fact that her VMA performance was, in her words, “strategic” and “all thought out” makes it better and not worse. Maybe she’s extremely well-read. But I wager that Cyrus is as dumb as a bag of lint.

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O.K. Corral's Jewish Gal

By Erika Dreifus

HarperCollins.com

Every March brings us Women’s History Month. Among this year’s highlights is the publication of a new biography of an American Jewish woman — Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp — by another American Jewish woman, Ann Kirschner.

If the Earp name sounds familiar, that’s because Josephine’s common-law husband, Wyatt, has occupied the limelight of American Old West mythology. Remember that famous shootout in Tombstone, Ariz., in 1881? The one dramatized in films such as “My Darling Clementine,” “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral,” “Tombstone,” and “Wyatt Earp”? Turns out that the fight had something to do with a certain Jewish girl. In her new biography, “Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp,” Kirschner restores Josephine to her rightful historical place. (In her previous book, the acclaimed “Sala’s Gift,” Kirschner explored her mother’s Holocaust story.)

Kirschner, whose career began as a lecturer in Victorian literature at Princeton University, currently serves as University Dean of Macaulay Honors College of The City University of New York. In a recent interview with The Sisterhood, Kirschner discussed what’s remarkable about Josephine — and what it was like to research her story.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sisterhood, Jewish Women, Jewish History, Holocaust, Anti-Semitism, American West, Ann Kirschner

Anti-Semitism In My Own Back Yard

By Johnna Kaplan

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When I woke up last week it seemed the local (that is, Connecticut) news was full of stories about unlikely dangers in our midst. First there were moose, bears and other wild animals prowling the streets. And then there were anti-Semites.

I’d seen a few articles about the ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents for 2011 when it was released almost two weeks ago, and noticed that it found acts of anti-Semitism were down by 13% nationally but up in my state as well as in neighboring Massachusetts. But for whatever reason — upcoming election? devastating super-storm? rocket attacks on southern Israel? — it didn’t seem like the most pressing of news stories over the following week.

But when the Audit belatedly reached some Connecticut papers (here and here), I couldn’t avoid it any longer. One incident, involving a swastika spray-painted on a synagogue, happened in the town where my parents live. Another, in which a young Jewish child was told by a classmate, “Your family deserves to be killed,” took place in a bucolic town ironically known in Colonial days as the “Parish of Judea.”

In some parts of Connecticut it seems every third person is Jewish. Other places in the state once had many Jews; their names can be seen fading on the brick walls of erstwhile dry goods stores. These places have mostly retained just enough Jews to keep a shul or two open, just enough so that no one finds us strange. In the less populated areas, Jews are more exotic. Revealing your Jewishness there can feel like pulling a rare tropical bird out of your handbag.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: sisterhood, jewish women, connecticut jews, anti-semitism, audit of anti-semitic incidents 2011, anti semitism

Anti-Semitism In My Own Back Yard

By Johnna Kaplan

Getty Images

When I woke up last week it seemed the local (that is, Connecticut) news was full of stories about unlikely dangers in our midst. First there were moose, bears and other wild animals prowling the streets. And then there were anti-Semites.

I’d seen a few articles about the ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents for 2011 when it was released almost two weeks ago, and noticed that it found acts of anti-Semitism were down by 13% nationally but up in my state as well as in neighboring Massachusetts. But for whatever reason — upcoming election? devastating super-storm? rocket attacks on southern Israel? — it didn’t seem like the most pressing of news stories over the following week.

But when the Audit belatedly reached some Connecticut papers (here and here), I couldn’t avoid it any longer. One incident, involving a swastika spray-painted on a synagogue, happened in the town where my parents live. Another, in which a young Jewish child was told by a classmate, “Your family deserves to be killed,” took place in a bucolic town ironically known in Colonial days as the “Parish of Judea.”

In some parts of Connecticut it seems every third person is Jewish. Other places in the state once had many Jews; their names can be seen fading on the brick walls of erstwhile dry goods stores. These places have mostly retained just enough Jews to keep a shul or two open, just enough so that no one finds us strange. In the less populated areas, Jews are more exotic. Revealing your Jewishness there can feel like pulling a rare tropical bird out of your handbag.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: sisterhood, jewish women, connecticut jews, anti-semitism, audit of anti-semitic incidents 2011, anti semitism




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