Monday, August 01, 2005


Seemingly taking cues from early Woody Allen movies, professional "shiksa" Kristina Grish has written a book, Boy Vey! The Shiksa's Guide for Dating Jewish Men, which, if this Haaretz interview is any indication, is likely to spread all sorts of outdated stereotypes and, more importantly, to lack any relevance whatsoever for people living in the year 2005. Her claims:

Claim: "Jewish women have specific demands of their boyfriend. It's not enough for them that he's a lawyer, he has to be a lawyer in a specific field, and not just a doctor, but a surgeon."

Reality: Jewish women do not demand this. Yikes. I mean, I'm sure some women of all backgrounds do this, but I've never encountered it, and I've met plenty of Jewish women in my day. Of course, such women must exist--and not only exist, but appeal to some men-- since there are men who choose their professions on the basis of which will attract the women they're after.

Claim: "I have never heard a Jewish man say that he likes dating a Jap [Jewish American Princess]."

Reality: That's like saying, "I have never heard a gay man say he likes dating a limp-wristed fag." Except for when they get appropriated as acceptable terms, derogatory names tend not to be listed under sought-after qualities in a mate. But even so, plenty of men of all stripes do like high-maintenance women, so even the model of a Jap would have her share of admirers.

Claim: Jewish men have hairy backs.

Reality: This is not always the case.

Claim: "Shiksas" don't care much about food, and thus can feel uncomfortable in Jewish homes.

Reality: See here and here. Oh, and here.

The article itself is quite creepy. While no one can control his or her preferences, to actively seek out people from a group part of whose mission is to continue itself through its members marrying one another is a bit off. And to seek these people out because of stereotypical traits you'd imagine them having adds a new level of ickiness. No matter what one's views of intermarriage, there's nothing creepy about two people from different backgrounds who happen to fall in love. But to really go out of your way to find men--and families--who care enough about being Jewish to identify as such strikes me as, at the very least, unsettling.

But what is most off about Grish's project is that it's relying on aspects of "cultural Judaism" which have largely faded from American life over the last few generations. Assimilated American Jews are less likely to fit Jewish stereotypes than were those Jews who came of age when those stereotypes first arose. Assertions such as, "Jews don't drink," or, "Jewish mothers make huge amounts of food," are not so much offensive as obsolete.

And finally, as with the "Seinfeld" episode in which Elaine is said to have "shiksappeal," there's something absurd about a petite, dark-haired woman in NYC claiming to be a Jewish man's shiksa fantasy.


Anonymous said...

Actually I think very few men like high maitenance women. Unfortunately many attractive women are high maitenance because they can afford to be.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, some gentile men have hairy backs (like me).

Anonymous said...

That's bizarre.

Of minimal relevance, recently I overheard a friend explain my behavior by saying "Ah, he's a southern redneck Jew." While true, I'm not exactly sure what that means.

Hat said...

I didn't think men liked high maintenance women either, but then I saw an episode of Date My Mom on MTV, and a guy picked a chick solely because she asked her mom to describe her as "high maintenance" (and I guess the fact that she had had her name legally changed to "Angel Princess" was turn on, too). I'm not sure if it was the producers convincing the poor guy to pick her, but it made for some hilarious television.

Anonymous said...

Some men like to be told what to do/ where to go/ how to act and bossiness (they know what they want and when they want it) seems to go along with the feature of high maintenance in women, whether they are Jewish or not. -- JM