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” There was, in these men, significant pride in being attracted to and interested in a Jew – not in me, just in my Jewishness. I felt alone; yet I also suspected I was far from isolated.
For a while, I was one of the few out, observant Jews on my campus, and it felt like I had been asked out by many for my novelty factor than out of general interest. Spelunking on Google and awkward conversations with friends revealed that I wasn’t alone in this experience.
Firstly, as other writers have also noted, it contributes to the idea of Jewishness as a “problematic” other.
If we are always “exotic,” we are never “normal”; if we are “exotic,” we are always there to be “normalized.” “Conquered.” “Liberated.” Secondly, we never get to really own our Judaism for ourselves in this context.
“Oh look, I’m dating a Jew.” “Aren’t I so progressive, a Catholic asking a Jew out?
I am still unsure how I feel about non-Jews; but examining such a fetish – within my own experience and within that of other Jews – has made me feel more confident.
Perhaps, perhaps, I would feel safer if I knew that the other gentleman was attracted to me – and not to a construct.
It’s all well and good for Jewishness to be considered beautiful. One of the proposals for the origin of fetishization is the idea that Jewishness represents an “exotic” attraction: the idea of sexualizing and engaging physically with an “other” group.
I find such exoticization problematic for three reasons.