The Internet gives and the Internet takes away. She gave us Jewish women a platform to show the world who we really are through blogging, videos and social and political engagement. And then she gave websites like BuzzFeed the opportunity to cobble together a list of “32 Things Jewish Girls Can’t Resist,” that is so degrading and, worse, cliche, that it makes me feel like the whole world is one big ’80s campus comedy and I am forever doomed to be the one clacking my gum in the corner while the priggish blond gets the guy.
Among the things we can’t resist, according to BuzzFeed, are salads, fro-yo, leggings, hair straighteners, Splenda, Birthright, summer camp and Skinny Girl vodka. What’s even more depressing than the list itself? The fact that it has 28,000 likes on Facebook.
Instead of digging into to why these stereotypes still persist (something I recently looked into over at Salon in a piece about “Princesses: Long Island” and hipster anti-semitism), I thought I would counter their list with a list of my own.
Sure, it is equally reductive as the BuzzFeed one; in the actual world, actual Jewish women find all sorts of things irresistible. Still, at least this list offers a few things we can be proud of besides dieting and lusting after Jake Gyllenhaal.
FAMILY: We kvell about our kids, speak to our siblings a few times a day, know probably way too much about our parents’ personal lives and love nothing more than when everyone gets together.
TALKING: Walk into a room of Jewish women and it isn’t likely to be a quiet one. We are big on articulating opinions, feelings and concerns, and we aren’t apt to beat around the bush. (For more on our love of kibitzing, see the Sisterhood’s defense of the Jewish goodbye.)
WOMEN’S RIGHTS: Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Naomi Klein, Erica Jong, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Blu Greenberg, Emma Goldman, Susan Faludi, Shulamith Firestone, Judy Bloom, Judy Chicago… Okay, you get the point. In our eyes, the only thing radical about equality between the sexes is the actions we have taken to achieve it.
COMMUNITY: We think life is nicer when you have people to share it with. Whether it is sitting around Sadie’s living room playing mah jong, joining Hadassah or our synagogue’s Sisterhood, a bottle of wine on Tuesdays on Rachel’s couch, or commenting on one another’s Facebook page, Jewish women get by with a little help from their friends.
PROGRESSIVE POLITICS: From congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords and Debbie Wasserman Schulz to American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, to the advocacy work of the National Council of Jewish Women, to the sweatshop workers who helped build the American labor movement in the early 20th century, Jewish women have long sought to rectify the injustices that plague our society. Solidarity forever!
COMEDY: We love to laugh, and we love to make others laugh. Ladies like Molly Picon, Gilda Radner and Joan Rivers were trailblazers for women in comedy, Jewish and not. Today we have Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer and my sister Alanna getting us to laugh so hard that we sometimes pee ourselves.
BAGELS: Fine, we’ll give BuzzFeed this one. Because who doesn’t love a bagel?
Elissa Strauss has written for the Forward over a number of years. She is a regular contributor to CNN, whose work has been published in a number of publications including The New York Times, Glamour, ELLE, and Longreads.
7 Things Jewish Women Can't Resist