There was a time when a Fat Old Jew (FOJ) like Harvey Weinstein marrying a Skinny Young Gentile (SYG) like Georgina Chapman would have caused a perfect storm of cultural anxieties around sex, power, and religion. Today, it's just another small gossip item.
The nuptials of the conniving, overeating, materialistic Hollywood mogul – the flesh-and-blood quintessence of the kind of crudely drawn stereotypical Jewish male who equates acceptance into the broader American culture with the acquisition of a hot shiksa – passed without so much of a media peep. More interestingly, the Jewish chattering class (a wild generalization referring to my friends) barely found it worthy of cocktail prattle. Such a high-profile FOJ triumph would once have tweaked all sorts of anxieties. Some Jews would have worried what it meant for the future of the people; others would have been scared at what gentiles thought about it. Jewish and non-Jewish feminists alike would have been horrified at the way a prominent man was so shamelessly using power and wealth to win such a “yummy mummy,” to use a phrase wielded by Maureen Dowd.
Chattering away about this curiosity with my friends, editors at Jewcy, and others, I realized that none of them interpreted the union as a suppressed lust for inclusion, but instead that less psycho-dramatic, nonsectarian lust…for a hot piece of ass.
What’s interesting is how that particular lust is no longer the sole province of the male beast. The enfranchisement of males at the expense of females (particularly Jewish males and Jewish females) is coming to an end. Firmly ensconced in the middle and upper classes, our generation of Jewish women find power, and its application (sexual, or otherwise), far less problematic than their predecessors.
Unlike the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd — who came of age in the late 1960s in male-dominated universities and workplaces, and has become known for bemoaning a perceived return to 1950s courtship rituals — our generation of women are achieving unlike any other. They’re used to female-dominated universities, and, soon, workplaces too. And with that equality, they’re becoming a bit beastly themselves. Edith Wharton's single woman's ambivalence toward marriage has given way to fearless casual sex (with only a smidgen of ambivalence about getting herpes). Women are marrying later. They’re marrying twice, sometimes three times. And like Harvey, their second and third marriages are occurring from a place of greater social stability and financial prosperity. That particular place – successful women of an advanced age reveling in their single-dom – has been fertile fodder for pop culture, with TV and film glorifying its wonderful lusty freedoms. There’s Sex and the City, The L Word, Cashmere Mafia, The Real Housewives of Orange Country, and on and on.
Being a “pig” no longer has a gender, or for that matter an age. It’s hard to condemn Weinstein for being shallow after watching A Shot of Love with Tila Tequila, in which 16 men and 16 women competing for the right to “love” Tequila, who is known mainly for having 2 million “friends” listed on MySpace.
Tila first entertains the men, interviewing some of them and making out with others. Then she does the same with the women. That’s the show. It might not have the novelistic complexity of The Wire, but it does prove you can be young, female, and utterly unaccomplished and still get a place at the trough. Maybe I’m just a cynic. Maybe Harvey swoons over the way Georgina thinks. Maybe Georgina just loves portly men with prominent noses, liberal attitudes, and discerning taste in films. Maybe it’s not “love” Tila is looking for but love. Or maybe, when it comes to relationships and sex these days — casual, matrimonial, queer, straight, and everything in between — we’re all allowed to be pigs.