Reading Details' "The Rise of the Hot Jewish Girl" should probably offend me as a woman and a Jew, but it's as a journalist that I'm most offended. Still, could Details be more misogynistic than Maxim? There's strong evidence.
At base a men's fashion magazine, Details is supposedly for a younger and even more status-conscious thirtysomething to GQ's bigger tent and Maxim's still-laddish sensibility (the latter is shrinking in reach, though its cultural contribution seems to live on). Details has lived many lives, but in editor-in-chief Dan Peres' most recent incarnation, the preference for a waif-like, unfratty male physique and an aging gay-or-not debate has been offset by proving "virility" in the crudest, oldest way: misogyny.
In article after article, Details seems to want to prove its heterosexual bonafides with porn-y photoshoots that flaunt misogyny in the guise of edgy humor. Its trend pieces' underlying social commentary is more often than not "your girlfriend/wife/one night stand is trying to trick you." In this imagining, sex and relationships are a minefield of lies and power plays, in which women are often seductive harpies who
cannot be trusted, and in which all too often, their sole goal is to encroach on male freedom. (Details' recently relaunched website actually has a sub-section called "Dating + Cheating." Unfortunately, their online archive doesn't go very far back). So yeah, why not treat women like garbage?
All of this, is of course, intentional provocation — inciting supposedly humorless feminists is part of being a real dude, right?
Another Details standby is to find a sexual niche and inflate it into purported social commentary — "Mandingos" anyone? The magazine's latest sexual trend story — "Why American Men Are Lusting After Women Of The Tribe... It Seems That America Can't Get Enough Smoking-Hot Semitic Tush Lately" — is no exception. It's a pretext for a package of "JILFS" (guess) that include photos of and interviews with starlets whose appeal hasn't historically hinged on their rabbinical status (Mila Kunis, Emmy Rossum, recent convert Isla Fisher).
No matter what, when it comes to sex, Details' version of edgy counterintuitiveness can be numbingly familiar:
Cheerleaders. Five-inch heels. Big, natural boobs. Those are merely the most obvious sexual fixations most men have, but there's another undeniable one: ladies of the tribe.
Undeniable! First off, I actually don't object in principle to celebrating Jewesses, notwithstanding the landmine that is the creepy ethnic fetish. And yeah, the whole objectifying thing. But why do such a sloppy, superficial job with the piece? Philip Roth — he of the iconically tortured and self-hating sexuality — as an example of Jews being "comparatively cool about sex," lumped in with Erica Jong? Throwing in a reference to the Apatow crew without mentioning that their films' romantic interests are often blonde, decidedly un-Jewish types like Leslie Mann and Katherine Heigl? (Missing the chance, by the way, to note that Roth and Apatow have a lot in common when it comes to shiksa obsessions that leave allegedly "smoking-hot" Jewish women out of the story). Not to mention crafting mostly-incomprehensible, stereotype-perpetuating sentences like this one:
"Recently, however, the Fran Drescher rep has given way to a more smoldering image. Think cultural mutts like Rachel Weisz, Emmanuelle Chriqui, and Rachel Bilson-women who have little in common beyond sultriness and Star of David necklaces."
Huh? Does Rachel Weisz (who has spoken articulately about being a Jewish woman in Hollywood) count as a mutt because she's from England? Or Emmanuelle Chriqui because her parents are from Morocco? And if they have little in common, what exactly are we talking about here?
The rest of the piece grafts together some references to porn featuring Jewish women (I invite you to find a subset of the population that porn has not at one point or another fetishized), a self-published calendar, and yes, a Fleshbot poll of proclivities that placed "Jewish women" just under "freckles." The author cites Joanna Angel as the sole example of porn stars who "actively embrace" their Jewishness because she describes herself as having a "Jewish nose," but then quotes her saying she's rejected roles in Jewish-themed movies.
Just performing this close reading is starting to make me feel stupider – I suspect I've spent more time on it than the author and editors spent on the piece. But that's Jewish girls for you – whiny and demanding, if occasionally good for some Star of David-shaped pasties when all other trend story options have been exhausted. But really, although there have been serious pieces snuck in here and there (and I actually thought this one raised good, and even, dare I say it, feminist points) one wonders why Details bothers with words at all.
Update: We got the interior images accompanying the story.
The Rise Of The Hot Jewish Girl [Details]
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The Return Of The Office Affair [Details]
Look Who's Sleeping With Your Wife [Details]
Everyone Else is Cheating-So Why Aren't You? [Details]