Marc Chagall. Max Weber. Lucian Freud.
Rachel Bloom is not the first Jewish artist to create work that shocks and provokes powerful men, and she will not be the last!
Her art, perhaps, surpasses all the others in terms of pun-usage.
The creator and star of CW’s musical comedy “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” took to Twitter to show off her latest masterpiece:
Happy Chanukah, here’s our custom made labia menorah. pic.twitter.com/iwkfiU49Xh— Rachel Bloom (@Racheldoesstuff) December 3, 2018
Do you get it? Do you? We do (it took us 12 hours.) Labia menorah? Like labia majora? It’s a play on the name for the small inner folds of the vulva, an external element of female genitalia! It’s a Latin/Hebrew pun — in physical form! Fun.
Listen — you don’t have to like this. You don’t have to think it’s respectful or appropriate. The menorah is a holy ritual object that dates to ancient Temple times. It’s a major symbol of the state of Israel, and a worldwide symbol of Jewish pride. To form one into the shape of genitalia is subversive, to say the least.
But external female genitals — often mistakenly called “the vagina” — are so denigrated, ignored, and misunderstood, it makes a certain kind of sense to “publicize the miracle,” as it were, my forming them into a holy object.
No thanks, not for me, said many men, in response to Bloom’s “menorah.” Just kidding.
To be fair, some women also found a depiction of their own body parts “disgusting,” while some men made truly excellent puns.
Does it Mensch-struate?— Matthew Riley (@alsomatthew) December 4, 2018
Bloom’s crafty Judaica is certainly controversial — it reminds us of the work of brilliant Jewish American artist Judy Chicago, whose 1979 work “The Dinner Party” imagined the labias of significant women from history as dishes served at an elaborate meal. Her work was also called obscene.
Hanukkah celebrates freedom from religious oppression, so you should feel free to stick to the good ole traditional menorah shape. But a great miracle happened there — so couldn’t men relax a bit about female bodies happening here?
Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny