Sisterhood Blog

Rethinking That Infamous 'Glee' Photo Shoot

By Elissa Strauss

gq.com

I, too, thought “uh-oh” when I saw the now infamous “Glee” photo shoot in GQ — see our earlier, related post here — nodding my head in agreement to the chorus of critiques deeming it sexist and even pornographic. But then I remembered what I used to dress like in my early 20s and realized that perhaps I had been too quick to judge. Fine, I never wore underwear as pants while suggestively sucking on a lollipop like Lea Michele does in the photo shoot, but you could certainly say that my wardrobe as a married woman is considerably more modest that many of the Friday night get-ups I used to wear in my early 20s.

Because I am slow to learn, I had a similar knee-jerk reaction when reading Dodai Stewart’s response to the article “The Truth About Beauty,” by Amy Alkon on Pyschologytoday.com. I instantly sided with Stewart that the article, which encourages women to remain mindful of their outer-beauty and promotes the damaging messages put forth by mainstream women’s and men’s magazines.

Like Stewart, I was revolted by the closing line from Alkon’s piece.

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Jewish Girls of 'Glee' Gone Wild?

By Leah Berkenwald

gq.com
Glee stars in a provocative pose.

Earlier this week, Diana Agron and Lea Michele of “Glee” were on the cover of GQ with co-star Cory Monteith in what can only be described as a hypersexualized spread. Diana Agron plays popular cheerleader Quinn Fabray. Lea Michele plays the know-it-all Jewish girl Rachel Berry. Both actresses are Jewish. (See other “Glee”-related posts here, here, here and here.)

The high school themed photoshoot, shot by Terry Richardson, features the Jewesses half-naked, in sexy, “come hither” poses. In one shot, Lea Michele is provacatively licking a lollipop. Jezebel calls it “porny” and reminds us that Terry Richardson has been accused of sexual harrassment by his models in the past. Jezebel also notes that Cory Monteith, who plays the football star Finn, is wearing clothes and his poses are active rather than passive. Another blogger noticed that GQ chose to feature only thin, white actresses when “Glee” is all about being pro-diversity, even if it deals with the issue in a lightweight, superficial way.

The photoshoot has sparked debate about whether “Glee” is a show for children or adults. The Parents Television Council said the shoot “borders on pedophilia,” despite the fact that the actors are all 20-somethings. Also, “Glee” has hit record ratings among adults and has featured plenty of sexual content that did not provoke statements from the Parent’s Television Council.

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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 regularly with the Sisterhood.

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On Jennifer Aniston, Lea Michele and Dressing Up as Babs

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

Getty Images
Actress Lea Michele (click to enlarge)

When I saw Elissa Strauss’ Sisterhood post about the photo spread in Harper’s Bazaar, in which Jennifer Aniston is made up and posed to try and look like Barbra Streisand, I could not believe it.

I know she was just trying to look like Streisand, and not pretending she could sound like her, but still. If anyone has the right to model herself after Streisand, it sure isn’t Jennifer Aniston. It’s Lea Michele.

Have you seen her on “Glee”? Or were you lucky enough to catch her performance on Broadway in “Spring Awakening”? (That’s where Boychik and I saw her opposite Jonathan Groff, who also plays her evil love interest on “Glee.”)

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For Rachel Berry — and for Real Girls, Too — It’s Not a Choice Between Hook-ups and Romance

By Elissa Strauss

Getty Images
Members of the cast of ‘Glee,’ including Lea Michele, far right, the actress who plays Rachel.

Caitlin Flanagan’s use of Rachel, the brassy Jewish character from the Fox television show “Glee”, as an anecdote for her Atlantic essay “Love, Actually” about the renewed interested in the “boyfriend story,” or old-fashioned romance, is a bit flawed. Yes, Rachel wants love, but she is hardly an innocent romantic. Early in the series she kisses her love interest while he is still dating another girl, and now she is juggling more than one love interest.

With Rachel we are not, as Flanagan writes, “back in Kansas.”

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Jewish Playmates, Jewish Gospel and a Jewish President

By Gabrielle Birkner

Big Brother Rabin: From her home on Kibbutz Manara in the Galilee, Yitzhak Rabin’s sister, Rachel, recalls in Haaretz the siblings’ Tel Aviv upbringing, the children of a “tempestuous revolutionary” mother, during the 1920s and 1930s.

Ask the Experts: Nishmat, an organization that certifies female advisors on Jewish law, or yo’atzot halacha, recently lifted the 10-year restriction that had been placed on those certifications. The growth in the number of women undergoing fertility treatments and hormone therapies has increased the demand for female advisors, the Jerusalem Post reports.

’Breaking Free’: j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California has a cover story on Jewish women recovering from domestic violence — and the Bay Area nonprofit using “Jewish healing rituals” to help these move on with their lives after abuse.

Paging Dr. Christina Yang: In an interview with Jewschool, Olivia Cohen-Cutler, an ABC television exec and the chairwoman of the Morningstar Commission — formed 12 years ago to counteract stereotypical portrayals of Jewish women in the media — discusses the increasingly diverse roles for Jewish women on TV.

On Second Thought: Jewish women continue to be cast in role of exotic outsider. Tablet has a piece about the Fox television hit “Glee,” in which the character of Rachel (actress Lea Michele, above) is a token Jew whose “ethnic looks clash nicely with the blond midwesterness of the ‘Cheerios,’ the cheerleaders who serve as her ostensible rivals.”

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'Glee' Welcomes Chutzpadik Rachel Berry to the Tribe

By Elissa Strauss

This week on the television dramedy “Glee” — the Fox show centers on the members of an Ohio high school choir — the lead character Rachel Berry officially came out, as a Jew. There were hints before: her name, her allusions to her big nose, her love for Streisand. But wasn’t until the most recent episode did she officially come out and say it.

She was fighting for the role of Maria in “West Side Story,” and said “Natalie Wood was a Jew, you know. I have had a deep, personal connection to this role since the age of one.” (For the record, Wood was Russian Orthodox.)

But Rachel’s coming out of sorts confirmed not only my suspicions, but my deepest hopes.

You see, Jewish female characters don’t really make it onto the big screen too much. This is easy to overlook due to the heavy representation of Jewish men in Hollywood: from the Apatow clan, to Stiller and Sandler, to Larry David — all of who almost always plays Jews. But these slightly nebbishe, but nonetheless adorable, guys usually come with a shiksa counterpart.

However, with the character of Rachel Berry, played by “Spring Awakening” alumna Lea Michelle, we finally have someone to call our own. This girl’s got chutzpah and spunk; she is arrogant but never affected; she has a solid heart. Indeed, she has a bit of a young Streisand thing going — something the actress, who is half-Jewish in real life, has noted herself.

She told Access Hollywood:

“I got my dream song! I got to sing a Barbara Streisand song. I can’t say which it is but it’s one of her most popular songs. Ever since I was a little girl, a Jewish girl, it’s like always been playing through my head. So I had the opportunity to sing that on the show.”

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