Could it get any worse? On June 2nd Bravo will debut a new reality show titled “Princesses: Long Island,” starring half a dozen spoiled women in their late 20s, all of whom are Jewish, according to the show’s publicist. If the series can be judged by the promo, they will give the already-offensive term Jewish American Princess a bad name.
The promo starts off with some woman who sounds like the love child of Fran Drescher and Joan Rivers screaming, “Guess what I have? Manischewiiiiiiitz!” and moves into a scene of bikini babes jumping into water when one girl screams “I think I broke my vagina bone!”
The stereotyping comes fast and furious: One girl says “My farklemptness is making me shvitz” and then another, who appears to be sitting in a limo, says, “Hasidic Jews, how do they get their curls so perfect?” At a bar, one of the characters says in a thick Lawng Oyland accent, “Are you guys Jewish?” Then someone named Erica drunkenly sings “Hava Nagila,” before falling flat on her face.
On the recent episode of Lexicon Valley, a podcast on Slate about “the mysteries of English,” podcaster and NPR On the Media host Bob Garfield caused quite the controversy when he took on what he finds to be an incredibly irritating verbal tic among young women.
“It’s almost exclusively among women and young women at that.” … “At some point, as they utter a sentence or phrase, somewhere between half way and the very end of the phrase, something happens to their voice as if they have a catch in their throat.”
This “catch in their throat” is know as vocal fry, and sounds kind of like a quick “ur’ mid-syllable. He goes on to call this obnoxious, vulgar and annoying.
These words, said with the typical steady, knowing lilt of a NPR host, did not go over well among women, including myself, who has often felt shame while doing what I think of as talking while Jewess.
The rise of Slutwalks — anti-rape marches that started as a reaction to a Canadian cop’s comments that dressing slutty encourages sexual assault, and have since spread across the world — has incited a debate on the use of the word “slut.” Some, like Gail Dines and Wendy J. Murphy over at the Guardian, rail against the term, because the “term slut is so deeply rooted in the patriarchal “madonna/whore” view of women’s sexuality that it is beyond redemption.”
Meanwhile Chloe Angyal at Feminsting defends the use of the term by activists, explaining that the term “Slutwalk” has been incredibly successfully in getting women “angry and active and inspiring them” to take no more BS. The debate is a good one, but, all in all, it is nothing new to Jewish women who have long been subjected to stereotypes about their sexuality. I’m with Angyal, on Team Sluts — and here’s why.
For generations J.A.P.s were seen as asexual and/or frigid, a stereotype that provided much fodder for Jewish humor. Take for example: “What’s a Jewish American Princess’ favorite position? Facing Tiffany’s.” Or: “A Jewish American Princess’s husband was making love to his wife when suddenly, to his intense surprise, she wiggled and let out a short cry of delight. ‘My God, honey!’ he exclaimed. ‘What happened?’ ‘It’s wonderful,’ she said. ‘I finally decided that those curtains would look much better in peach.’”
But then, over the past decade or so, we have been relocated to the other side of the spectrum and now are considered, well, kinda slutty.
I think many of us saw this coming. Really, how many other cultural clichés could lend themselves as easily to the outrageousness and garishness displayed by the self-proclaimed “guidos” and “guidettes” on the MTV reality show “Jersey Shore”? The “Jewish American Princesses” just had to be next.
And now they are. Radar Online recently got their hands on a casting call for a “company looking for ‘Super Jappy’ groups of friends! Women ages 21–45 are able to apply for this reality show. … Gone are the days when being a JAP was a bad thing Jewish American Princesses are proud. … Think Jersey Shore meets Real Housewives of New Jersey – but classier. We want beautiful, fun, outspoken groups of Jewish American Women.”
The production company is searching for Long Island-based talent, and has not yet been picked up by a network. If the concept is sold, are we Jewish women ready for the Jewish Snookis and JWowws of the world to bring — just a guess — their designer purses, nasal voices, and elaborate and expensive, beauty rituals into the homes across America?