Can a Non-Jewish Woman Write Frum Erotica? by the Forward

Can a Non-Jewish Woman Write Frum Erotica?

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When I saw a tweet referencing an “Orthodox Jewish BDSM erotic romance” while waiting on line at a bakery just now, I immediately knew that this would be a Sisterhood post. I had so many questions! And still have plenty; this was about an hour ago, so I can’t say I’ve (yet) read the book in question.

What I can say: The book is Craving Flight, by Tamsen Parker, found via (and reviewed by) Rachel Kramer Bussel. It’s a novella about a 37-year-old newly-Orthodox Jewish woman, Tzipporah Berger, who, going by the descriptions, enjoys a steamy romantic life with her butcher husband with an “intimidating size,” which, in the summary’s context, seems to suggest he is a taller, larger man.

To save you the Googling: No, Parker is not Orthodox. Nor is she Jewish, period.

There are, I suppose, reasons to find this premise problematic. Is it Orientalist to eroticize a closed-off minority religious community you’re not a part of? Almost definitely. (Imagine the equivalent, but about religious Muslims.) It doesn’t take delving into contemporary discussions of literature and cultural appropriation to see why the bare-bones facts here might merit a huh.

And yet, I — a secular Jew — am not finding myself troubled by this book’s existence, or its author’s identity. As Parker notes in the above-linked article, she received assistance from “a friend who is Orthodox Jewish, and a romance author in her own right,” KK Hendin. A sensitivity reader, then, or at least someone to help with background details. It sounds like she did plenty of research. And — and this is what we need to be thinking about, where literary diversity is concerned — it doesn’t sound as if Parker’s frum BDSM novella is diverting attention from other, Jewish-authored frum BDSM novellas. And if Shosha Pearlapproves, it’s fine by me.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy edits the Sisterhood, and can be reached at bovy@forward.com. Her book, The Perils of “Privilege”, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in March 2017.

Can a Non-Jewish Woman Write Frum Erotica?

Can a Non-Jewish Woman Write Frum Erotica?

Can a Non-Jewish Woman Write Frum Erotica?

Author

Phoebe Maltz Bovy

Phoebe Maltz Bovy is a former editor of the Sisterhood blog at the Forward. Her writing has appeared in several publications, including The New Republic and The Atlantic. Her book, “The Perils of ‘Privilege,’” was published by St. Martin’s Press in March 2017. She has a PhD in French and French Studies from New York University, and has read a lot of 19th century French Jewish newspapers for a 21st century American.

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