Monday, November 15, 2004

The Bad Girl Jew

// so today's been largely about the whole Heeb thing. It's funny, to be back out there as a Jew -- I mean, I can never lay low as a Jew because of the whole schnozz and general outlook on life (neuroses schmeuroses), but there was a time when I was on stage all the time talking about being a jew, a jewish girl, specifically a bad jewish girl. I've heard of a comedy series here in NY called "Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad" but I've never been to one of their events -- I'm assuming the premise is roughly the same -- the whole isn't-it-shocking-to-you-that-I-am-a-nice-jewish-girl-but-i-am-really-naughty-and-nasty. for some reason, that concept seems to be the basis for lots of performance art -- you'll see a lot more of that issue on stages across Manhattan than you'll see oooh-look-i-am-Episcopalian-and-i-am-a-bad-girl or even wow-i'm-so-bad-and-i-am-also-a-Lutheran.

A friend emailed me describing how he longed after Jewesses when he was in college, but that as he (and the ladies) got older (closer to marrying age), the Jewesses only wanted to date Jewish dudes so he was out of the running. And I know a lot of people up there on the Upper West Side who rock that j-date shit, and I know Jews who will only date other Jews, no matter what. I ain't like that. Religion doesn't matter to me, as long as you don't really have one. I'm not so into the Faith, if you catch my drift, although I'm okay with a general sense of anti-entropic-higher-order thing, if one likes that sort of idea.

And luckily, I don't really have parental pressure on the whole relationship jew-must-go-on tip. My parents, I believe, would be happy if I were to have a boyfriend at all, let alone if he were a Jew. Just as long as he's not into, like, making my whole family play sports, then we'll all get along fine.

Anyway. My e-conversation about jewesses got me to thinking about the whole thing again -- why is it so hard to name a Jewish sex symbol?

I will ask that again so that you can grok its deeper meaning:
WHY AREN'T THERE ANY JEWISH SEX SYMBOLS?

Okay, Okay, I'll give you Jon Stewart, and Sarah Silverman, and Zach Braff and maybe even Adam (maroon 5 yawn) Levine. But that's it? And there's only one sexy Jewish chick? okay, we can add in sarah jessica parker (although i say 'ew') but we are not considering Madonna. I can't think of any sexy Jewesses in pop culture from my childhood and adolescence and I'm hard-pressed to find them now -- when we look to popular culture and the cult-of-personality to find our role models of the sexualized gaze, who do we see? skinny hipped, tiny nosed non-Jews. Where are the ladies with the hips? The thighs? The hair? They're not on the screen -- they're not celluloid idols (ha, more like cellulite idols, she quips wittily, like she was trained), so they're like the anti-idealized-Barbie and therefore the notion of the sexy-Jew becomes appealing to anti-establishment sorts of people.

So I actually wrote about this phenomenon a few years ago in an article for penthouse.com, but then they went bankrupt and it never came out.

Thus, for the first time ever, I present:

Bex on the Bad Girl Jew:

So it’s three a.m. and I’m drunk. The TV is on; the remote is on my belly and I’m looking for eye candy. I come to my favorite channel – the free almost-porn station that broadcasts snippets of “dirty” programming interspersed with hours and hours of “Escort” commercials. There’s the blonde lesbian nipple-licking, the lick-the-boot Dom/Sub thing, and then … there it is. Just one of dozens of the “Asian Beauties” commercials, offering entrance into the most lovely and delicate of Forbidden Temples.
I hate these commercials. It’s not that Asian women aren’t beautiful – of course they are – but I hate the fetishization of an entire race. It’s not that I’m so self-righteous and holier-than-thou. I’m just jealous.
As of now, there’s no advertised and glamourized fetish of what appears to be a lust-inducing icon arousing men across the nation – the Bad Girl Jew. The Bad Girl Jew is Monica Lewinsky, proudly performing oral sex on a goyische President. The Bad Girl Jew is Lindsey Vuolo, the first openly Jewish Playmate. The Bad Girl Jew is talking to you at a bar on the Upper West Side and damn if she doesn’t look juicy. Those mothering hips, that luscious bosom – the Bad Girl Jew comes with conditions: the breasts are real, but so is the nose.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Jews and Sex but were afraid to ask …

The Bad Girl Jew phenomenon stems from the cultural and religious aspects of the Judaic approaches to sex. Shana, a twenty-three year old who prefers the label “naughty,” notes, “I was only told that I had to date Jewish boys. At camp, I was encouraged to fool around – as long as the boy was Jewish. Oh, and if I slept with a non-Jewish man, I wouldn’t be able to marry a cohen [High Priest].” Whereas Catholic school girls are instructed that sex is a sin, that lust is an offence, that unpure acts lead to damnation, Jewish girls learn that sex is a mitzvah -- a commandment (just as long as he goes to Hebrew School). [Update: "Shana" married a really neat Jewish guy named "Todd" last August.]

The Torah maintains that sex is only permissible between a husband and a wife, yet the halacha [Jewish Law] allows a couple to meet “at least once” before the wedding to ensure that they find each other physically attractive. The Talmud and Torah indicate that sex exists not just for procreation, but also for pleasure and for reinforcing the marital commitment. According to the Law, sex should only be enjoyed in a moment of happiness. (Sex must be blissful -- couples who are either drunk or arguing may not fornicate). “Selfish sex” (ignoring one’s partners passion) is illegal, as is using sex as a weapon (withholding or forcing intercourse to punish or manipulate a spouse). Throughout Judaic teachings, sex is portrayed as a joyous act of love – couples are actually encouraged to have sex whenever conception is impossible (e.g. during pregnancy or menopause). Furthermore, the law permits birth control (as long as a husband and wife follow the guidelines to be fruitful and multiply, producing at least one son and one daughter).

The Joy-of-Sex ideal is only partly responsible for the Bad Girl Jew phenomenon. The Talmud clearly states that sex is the woman’s right. The man is compelled by law to have sex with his wife regularly and to ensure that sex is always mutually pleasurable. A woman should not have to ask for sex – the man is instructed to watch for signs that his lover is randy and to satisfy her sexual needs. In fact, sex is one of a woman’s three basic rights: food, clothing, and fucking. To this degree, a man is not permitted to abstain from sex or to travel away from home for too long, thus leaving his wife alone and horny. Additionally, if a husband continues to ignore his wife’s sexual needs, the wife has absolute permission to divorce his sorry ass. It doesn’t matter whether a young Jewess spends her afternoons at Bat Mitzvah lessons or at the Gap – somewhere within the collective unconscious of Jewish culture lies the implicit encouragement for girls to be unashamed of their sexuality and desires. Not every girl becomes a Bad Girl Jew, but those who do are gleefully taking full advantage of their God-given rights.

The Yin-Yang of the Bad Girl Jew

Bad Girl Jews carry the intriguing psychological baggage of sexual un-repression combined with the stereotypically (yet true) Jewish neurosis. A Bad Girl Jew will fuck you on your first date, but she’ll call you every night for a month. A B.G.J. will fellate you for over an hour rather than admit she’s a failure. A B.G.J. will perform any number of sexual favors, but she expects to be complimented and thanked profusely. A B.G.J. is your sexual fantasy wrapped up in your worst nightmare – a high-maintenance, mildly obsessive nympho.

Bad Girl Jews are at once irresistible and annoying. The wild and luscious hair looks fantastic after hours with a blow-dryer or the right curl-enhancing product; that same mane is frightening after a day in the rain. That cleavage and those hips look great in jeans and a tee-shirt, but woe be unto you if your B.G.J tries on a button-down dress. The husky voice sounds amazing when she’s whispering into your ear, but you’ll be reaching for the Advil if she’s PMS-ing and shrill and nasal and hysterical. Bad Girl Jews are also notoriously intellectual – a B.G.J. will seduce you with her deconstructive insights into universal truths, but then she’ll psychoanalyze your collection of Transformers and your willy will wilt like a non-kosher hot dog.


A Bad Girl Jew offers a wild ride, but you’ve got to be prepared to hang on tight and adjust the lap strap. A B.G.J will lick your ear in a crowded elevator. She’ll linger just a little too long when she kisses your buddies goodnight. She’ll introduce you to her parents as “the man I’m fucking.” A Bad Girl Jew is rebelling against everything she thinks her the world. She will do everything within her power to prove that she is not a JAP from the suburbs. She’d do anything to prove that she’s not bourgeois. She’ll take your stereotypes and shred them, all the while longing for you to at least offer to pay for dinner. A Bad Girl Jew will get a tattoo and then laugh nervously as she boasts, “My mom hates this.”
----------------------

oh. i think I actually never ended this article. but now the NyQuil has kicked in and I fear the keyboard will once again turn into pebbles. I must away to bed.

6 comments:

Esther Kustanowitz said...

First of all, I can't believe that I've been to Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad and you haven't. (And I wouldn't necessarily call it comedy.) But there's something so off-kilter about that.

For a while I think David Schwimmer was considered a Jewish sex symbol, but I think that just proves how desperate we were to have one. Ethan from Survivor, maybe? Other than that, I'm sticking with JS.

Loved your piece. My more conservative readers may balk, but I'm linkin' ya, babe. I never thought I'd see the day when you were citing Scripture for your purpose...halacha, indeed.

Anonymous said...

Though she's young, there's Natalie Portman. Winona Ryder qualifies as a sex symbol in SOME people's books. Rena Sofer. Natasha Lyonne's Jewish, isn't she? And those are just off the top of my head. :-)

Great article though!

Peace.
Joel in LA

Anonymous said...

I nearly had to cover my mouth with my hands to prevent me from laughing out loud in my office while reading this post.

Girl, I can totally totally relate. See, I am a Nice Jewish Girl, no seriously I am, and just last week I did an improv show and some of the members of the audience who happened to be Jewish remarked to my fellow female Jewish improviser that I don't seem like the typical Jewish girl because I seem "so sexual." All because I got a little naughty playing some of my characters. Not that I mind being known as a little bit naughty, it's just so funny to me, because I really am just a NJG. It's usually annoying to me how N of the NJG I usually am. I think what people also find so shocking about me when I talk with a potty mouth is that I look much younger than my chronological age, both because I am of petite stature and because I have a very round face, with chubby cheeks, so I guess that makes me appear childlike and angelic. So hearing me say the F word is really jarring to some unsuspecting viewers.

As for Jewish sex symbols, I think Adam Brody is definitely becoming one. Does Rachel Weisz count?
And Natasha Lyonne is definitely Jewish, went to RAMAZ, but she's more of a character actress than a sex symbol, isn't she? Gwyneth Paltrow is only half Jewish, and she's too skinny and WASP-y looking to ever qualify in this category.

~Andrea S.
(you can read about my mildly naughty NJG adventures on my blog at: www.livejournal.com/users/cynima)

Jack's Shack said...

I grew up with girls from Ramah and USY, none of this surprises me at all.

Anonymous said...

Hi there :)

All in all a great article,
=but=
in your interpretation, Judaism is such a nice and ppl-loving religion, that I’ve made a double check to make sure that it’s the same Judaism that rules my “democratic” & Jewish country (yes, Israel RULZ. That’s why so many young people are searching for more sane option in the world.) - the same Judaism that forbids gay relationships, gives the male all the possible privileges in the case of a divorce (including his right to refuse to give his wife a divorce thus making her “aguna” and unable to marry anyone else, while he can start a new family with a new woman) and has many other chauvinistic, women and foreigners hating policies. Maybe the religious oppression I witness on a daily basis is only due to the excessive amount of power the state has given to the religious establishment here, but then again “they” find all the reasoning they need in the “holy writings”.

btw, I intend on quoting your saying: “ Religion doesn't matter to me, as long as you don't really have one.” For some reason I’ve never managed to formulate it quite that smoothly.

Cheerz!

jm (red_pixel@email.com)

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