by Latoya Peterson
Reader Ilana tipped us to this Details article back in December – sadly it got lost in the holiday shuffle. But wow, is this article a winner:
Cheerleaders. Five-inch heels. Big, natural boobs. Those are merely the most obvious sexual fixations most men have, but there’s another undeniable one: ladies of the tribe. It seems that America can’t get enough smoking-hot Semitic tush lately.
In a recent poll on the porn blog Fleshbot, “Jewish girls” ranked second among kinks (the winner: “freckles”). Jewesses aren’t just the rage in the triple-X realm, either: They’re seducing goyim on Mad Men and Glee and giving movie geeks conniptions over reports of JILF-on-JILF action between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis in Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming Black Swan.
That Jewish women have become the ethnic fetish du jour is all the more remarkable given that Jews represent a truly tiny minority (2.2 percent) of the U.S. population. In recent years, God’s chosen menfolk have been objects of affection, too, though they draw their appeal from cuddly schlubbiness, not sexual energy—consider Judd Apatow’s all-Jewish Frat Pack (Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, et al.). But unlike their funnyman brothers, Jewish girls have had to overcome the old stinging JAP stereotype of frigidity, whininess, and big hair.
Recently, however, the Fran Drescher rep has given way to a more smoldering image. Think cultural mutts like Rachel Weisz, Emmanuelle Chriqui, and Rachel Bilson—women who have little in common beyond sultriness and Star of David necklaces.
Hmm…embracing fetishization, references to pornography, reduction to body parts, desexualizing/hypersexualizing different genders, referencing stereotypes and plans for assimilation – I got BINGO! (Seriously, can someone make a race/gender bingo card please?) The worst bit? That was the first four paragraphs of a three page article.
The last time we looked at race, sex, and Details, we got knee-deep into the sticky racial politics of Mandingos – and realized we shouldn’t have even tried to touch that. Irin from Jezebel gamely tried to dive in, but she was more offended by the blatant misogyny extolled by Details editors than the actual content of the piece. She writes:
First off, I actually don’t object in principle to celebrating Jewesses, notwithstanding the landmine that is the creepy ethnic fetish. And yeah, the whole objectifying thing. But why do such a sloppy, superficial job with the piece? Philip Roth — he of the iconically tortured and self-hating sexuality — as an example of Jews being “comparatively cool about sex,” lumped in with Erica Jong? Throwing in a reference to the Apatow crew without mentioning that their films’ romantic interests are often blonde, decidedly un-Jewish types like Leslie Mann and Katherine Heigl? (Missing the chance, by the way, to note that Roth and Apatow have a lot in common when it comes to shiksa obsessions that leave allegedly “smoking-hot” Jewish women out of the story). Not to mention crafting mostly-incomprehensible, stereotype-perpetuating sentences like this one:
“Recently, however, the Fran Drescher rep has given way to a more smoldering image. Think cultural mutts like Rachel Weisz, Emmanuelle Chriqui, and Rachel Bilson-women who have little in common beyond sultriness and Star of David necklaces.”
Huh? Does Rachel Weisz (who has spoken articulately about being a Jewish woman in Hollywood) count as a mutt because she’s from England? Or Emmanuelle Chriqui because her parents are from Morocco? And if they have little in common, what exactly are we talking about here?
That’s the thing about weirdo fetishes based on race or ethnicity – it doesn’t really matter who you are or what your story is. You vanish into some teeming mass of exotic conquest.
Our tipster Ilana had her own thoughts on the subject. She kindly provided us with a short transcript of her conversation with two different friends:
White friend: Are you offended [by the article]?
Ilana (Jewish): Um, yes. I don’t like it when people fetishize ethnic groups, especially one to which I belong.
White friend: I think a lot of people in that article do fetishize jews, but don’t you think it’s possible that some people just consistently find themselves attracted to Jews/African Americans/ French people, etc?
Korean friend: Ilana – I hate it too…I feel as if they treat my group as a bunch of ‘toys’ =(
White friend: No one should be treated like a toy, and if anyone ever treats someone like an object then they’re racist, creepy and morally wrong.
Korean friend: I think it’s possible, sure, but I also think that if someone finds themselves consistently attracted to an ethnic group not their own, they must examine the possible reasons behind that attraction- any latent racism… Even a positive stereotype can be harmful. I know this only too well.
White Friend: I don’t see how that’s a terrible thing unless they have latent racism or are motivated by a stereotype. (For me, it only seems to take a nerdy guy with glasses, humor and awkwardness.) My father’s friend has always dated African American women and there’s nothing like that in him. There’s always some weird amount of racial awkwardness in a cross … See More ethnic attraction, but I don’t see how anyone involved is doing something wrong, or has something wrong with them if it’s a consistent fixture in their lives. If they have a happy, healthy loving relationship, then why make them feel guilty about it?
Ilana: I am a huge proponent of interracial relationships, so long as everyone in the equation is happy and healthy. The issue, as I said, is consistent attraction regardless of personal attributes- if, for example, a white man is a serial dater of Asian women (to the exclusion of other women), it’s a little weird. There’s a big difference between being equal-opportunity and fetishizing someone.
White friend: I don’t want you to think I’m an asshole. I’m just really interested in sexual fetishes from a psychological perspective. What about a preferred set of physical attributes?
Ilana: I don’t think you’re an asshole. Given that I don’t have any background in psychology, sexual or otherwise… Preferred set of physical attributes? That’s tricky. I guess it depends on whether you associate your ideas about what kind of person the individual is with what they look like (i.e., “black men are all really aggressive and good in bed”), and apply those assumptions across the board.
White friend: Now I completely agree with you- if someone doesn’t pick and choose and will go after anything that’s breathing as long as he/she fits into their racial fantasy is a weirdo and a sexual predator waiting to burst open. That article was written in a disgusting way.
Granted, conversations about sex and race are generally difficult – everyone has different things they will accept or tolerate in relationships, and one person’s idea of fetish is someone else’s coincidence. However, where Details fails (yet again!) is by trying to slot sexuality into easily digestible bits of stereotype.