J-Date's sexist ads: Women with heads

Monday, 8 June 2009

I left West Hampstead tube station early yesterday afternoon, aiming for the West End Lane Bookstore. (There's a folk tales display in the famous front window.) When I looked across the street, I saw a giant billboard carrying the most shockingly sexist ad I have seen in weeks.
A photograph can be seen at the bottom of the latest from Ten Year Leap.

It's a picture of a woman's body, cropped from her neck to her upper legs. Her shirt is tiny. Her breasts are enormous. She is holding out a pint of beer. "What's more," the caption says, "she's Jewish."

They are ads for the popular international Jewish dating site, J-Date, to which I will not link (Google it if you must). Marcus Dysch of the Jewish Chronicle wants to know, "Have J-Date Boobed?" (sic)

No, he concludes, it has not. He calls women who are boycotting the site "nimby" and asks,

Would these women prefer to have seen one of the old stereotypes that we all know so well and indeed find infinitely more offensive?


Ah, yes, the old offensive "women have heads" stereotype. Why, I can’t tell you how appalled I was at the ads for the following UK dating sites, most of which offer searches by religion:

Guardian Soulmates
(Guardian Soulmates)

eHarmony.com
(eHarmony.com)

Match.com
(Match.com)

Flirtbox
(Flirtbox)


In the eHarmony ad, the woman is even using using her mouth (part of her head!) to smile! It is if she were an active individual who is enjoying herself as a person, rather than a sexual object who has been stripped, posed and cropped into a thoughtless pair of tabula rasa boobs for men to project their sexy kosher fantasies all over! I cannot tell you how offensive I find you, eHarmony ad! Oh, wait, I can, it is not at all, and in fact I think it's pretty awesome when ads give agency and confidence to both men and women. Whoops. How regressive of me.

Seriously I have no idea what 'old stereotypes that we all know so well' these J-Date ads are supposed to be subverting. If the subversion is "tiny shirt, big boobs, no head/mouth, loves the blokey things that you, the man, love", the institution must be, what? Something like Rebecca West's feminism: women who express opinions that differ from those of a prostitute or a doormat. And have heads.

Women with heads
Let's see what sort of 'stereotypical' Jewish women that leaves us with. Wikipedia's list of Jewish feminists makes for hours of delighted reading, especially with so many men included (hooray for allies!), but they aren't all: there is also Miriam Moses, who was elected the first woman mayor of Stepney in 1931; Jen Taylor Friedman, the first woman known to complete a Torah scroll, and the creator of Tefillin Barbie; my own rabbi, Dr Laura Janner-Klausner; and dozens of other women I know personally, who not only have heads and mouths but have frequently managed to find romantic partners nonetheless.

What other notably offensive Jewish women have heads? Well, there's my blog's namesake, Judith, of course.

Judith with the head of Holofernes


She's got two! Atta girl.

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