Media Watch II: Looking at Jewish Women as the World Looks at Them

Surfing the Web for various takes on the violence in Silwan on Sunday, I looked at the coverage by the Chinese news service Xinhua, which is usually a good place for odd angles. There was nothing new about Jerusalem, but an interesting link appeared alongside the article, directing me to what it called the world’s “most beloved women.” It was accompanied by a photo of Scarlett Johansson. This piqued my well-known interest in Jewish demography, and so I looked further.

It turned out that Xinhua was reporting on an annual survey conducted by, the “online men’s magazine,” to identify the world’s 99 “most desirable women.” After tabulating the six million votes it says were cast in its latest survey, AskMen reports the world’s Number 1 heart-throb of 2010 is Montreal-born film and TV actress Emmanuelle Chriqui, a daughter of Moroccan Jewish immigrants. She’s one of six Jews in the top 50. The others are Bar Refaeli (13); Natalie Portman (17); Scarlett Johansson (23); Mila Kunis (32), and Brooke Burke (47).

Chriqui’s No. 1 spot is a big jump over last year, when she clocked in at No. 12. Interestingly, the 2009 list also included six Jews: Johansson at No. 7; Chriqui (12); Brooke Burke (14); Mila Kunis (27); Isla (Mrs. Borat) Fisher (31), and Bar Refaeli (34).

Six out of 50 is 12.5%. (I told you my interest was demographic.) It’s hard to think of another finite list of public personalities in which Jews are so disproportionately represented, relative to their share of the general population. The United States Senate comes to mind — the proportion of Jews there, at 13%, is nearly identical to this list.

Contrast this with the image of Jewish women as reflected in the jokes Jewish men tell about them. Seems like there’s an awful lot of non-Jewish men out there who see something that Jewish men are totally missing. No wonder we don’t marry each other. We aren’t even looking at each other.

Hey, it’s much more interesting than looking at senators. I’m just saying… (Am I in trouble now?)

Written by

J.J. Goldberg

J.J. Goldberg

Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).

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Media Watch II: Looking at Jewish Women as the World Looks at Them

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