Friday, July 11, 2008

The role of the Shiksa


I saw this image on a T-Shirt and couldn't help but laugh, and think about a recent conversation I had with a (non-Jewish) friend of mine.

She sent me a text informing me that she was hanging out with a Jewish friend and they were trying to think of the Yiddish word for a non-Jewish girl and a guy that dates non-Jewish girls.

The word for a non-Jewish girl is Shiksa (literally cockroach), as for the guy that dates the Shiksa, well. . . so far as I know, we don't have a word, which is probably due to the fact that its a pretty common practice.

There is certainly a deep conflict between the egalitarian principles espoused in much of reform Judaism and the deep bias against inter-marriage.

I've done some (pseudo)research into sites like JDate et. al, and there are quite a few non-Jews (mostly women) who have profiles on the site. Its clear that the attraction goes both ways. Granted, its much easier for a Jewish person to find a non-Jewish mate as a simple fact of numbers. By restricting your potential partner set to just Jews, you cut a whole lot of potential out of the picture.
Why is it, though, that non-Jews (once again, mostly women) are going out of their way to seek out Jewish partners (mostly men)?

Some of the answers seem to revolve around the classical American Jewish stereotypes. That Jewish men are more responsible and mature (*cough), better with their money and more family oriented. That they treat women well, cave easily to their demands, and provide steady partnership. . . much of this may be true, at least partially, but what about our stereotypes of non-Jewish women?

How often have I heard, despite the joking tone, that 'goys are for practice'? ...Sure, that relationship was going along swimmingly, until the parents started thinking about where the wedding would be held, how the children would be raised, and then, well, things went to hell, just like her parents promised you would.

What is it though, that simultaneously drives us away from Jewish partners until we are ready to consider the possibility of serious (potentially final status) relationships?

I'm as inundated with images of rail thin, large-chested, tan, blonde women without any body hair as any other media consumer in America, but perhaps as a Jew, these traits have a different meaning. Perhaps they are signals of beauty that we are supposed to aspire to based on our swarthy or pale predispositions, as part of our 'quest to become white'.

I think that as part of the integration process, we have held Gentile women as the standard of beauty to embrace, evidenced by the popularity of nose jobs, tanning beds and laser hair removal to some in the community. It is likely that, as we reach the limits of integration, we start to see a resurgence of pride in who we are, naturally.

It wasn't until I spent some time in Israel that I started realizing, or rather reminding myself, that Jewish women are beautiful. Now, I'm sure there is a point about identity politics or psychology in here somewhere, but really, it just clicked one day; I like dark, curly hair, I love dark, pensive eyes. Sure, our melanin might be pretty lacking, but hey, try getting kicked out of every Mediterranean country over the past 2000 years and see how you end up looking!

I'm interested in what people think though, so why do you never/always date Jewish/non-Jewish women/men?

*EDIT* There are gorgeous Jewish women with red hair, and even blond hair. I mean, Natalie Portman looked decent even without hair in V for Vendetta (although I couldn't help but think of pictures of those interred at camps during the Holocaust).

Also, there is a really interested article tangentially related to this that I just found.

שבת שלום

2 comments:

Leslie said...

I will have you know that it is not just common practice among non Jewish women, but also non Jewish men. Before I met the love of my life aka Ron Gubitz :) [we met at a Star Trek convention, not Jdate] I was contacted my numerous non Jewish males on Jdate, as well as some converts. So it isn't just non Jewish ladies who just want Jewish junk cause they like the way it looks all nice and tidy. But apparently non Jewish men like NJGs too. And furthermore... some Jews have red hair and dark pensive eyes... lets not stereotype. Good Shabbos!!!

Leslie said...

I will have you know that it is not just common practice among non Jewish women, but also non Jewish men. Before I met the love of my life aka Ron Gubitz :) [we met at a Star Trek convention, not Jdate] I was contacted my numerous non Jewish males on Jdate, as well as some converts. So it isn't just non Jewish ladies who just want Jewish junk cause they like the way it looks all nice and tidy. But apparently non Jewish men like NJGs too. And furthermore... some Jews have red hair and dark pensive eyes... lets not stereotype. Good Shabbos!!!