Being Jewish in the new America

Despite my white skin and blue eyes, as a Jew I’ve always had a complicated relationship with my whiteness. This is true now more than ever. My people have suffered at the hands of xenophobes and bigots for as long as we’ve been around. My great-grandparents survived the pogroms of Europe only to arrive in the US and be told they’re not welcome here. They were denied jobs, housing and basic human decency. They were relegated in ghettos here to match the ones they left behind in Europe. They did not (and I still do not) enjoy many of the privileges that white Christian Americans have been afforded. But they stayed and here I am.

no-jews-allowed
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Last Day/Opening night

Last weekend, I went to 2 sex positive feminist art shows (a successful Saturday to day the least). Both shows concentrated on the reclamation of the female body, and also unapologetically focused on sex and all the different things that can mean, including styles of kink. What was most fascinating though was that despite all this they could not have been more different.

The first was actually a remounting of a show originally held at David Zwirner gallery in 1993, COMING TO POWER: 25 Years Of Sexually X-Plicit Art By Women at Maccarone gallery in the West Village. Maccarone gallery is tucked inside the first floor of an unassuming building on Greenwich St and looks like s typical gallery: large empty space with monochrome walls. The art was fantastic. Incredible pieces by vitally important artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Yoko Ono, Carolee Schneemann, Cindy Sherman, Annie Sprinkle and Hannah Wilke (among other) who radically changed the landscape of visual art, not to mention fighting for a space for women within art. It was moving and informative.

The second was Fatter IRL: A Fat Art show, held (along with several other shows) in an actual former Pfizer factory in East Williamsburg. But for the helpful signs posted out front, you’d never guess the building would contain an art show. The art was displayed in side rooms beside genuine industrial machinery. All the artists were lesser known but still incredibly gifted. Here is the new face of both feminism and art in the age of social media.

The first difference I noticed is that, with few exception, nearly all of the artists in the Maccarone show were white and cisgendered and many were also straight while nearly all the artists at Pfizer were queer and/or POC. While it’s always been important to open up the art world for women, (something that’s still a struggle) it is also necessary to create an equal amount of space for folks who fall somewhere else on the gender spectrum. Not to mention the obvious need for LGBTQ and non-white voices. This show definitely had that.

Secondly, I stopped to consider how I came across these shows. While at the Air BnB where some friends of my parter had been staying while in the city from Europe, I happened across the most recent edition of TimeOut NY. I only saw the review of Coming to Power because I was flipping through the magazine. Meanwhile, I saw event notifications for Fatter IRL all over my Facebook wall and was intrigued enough to go.

It was symbolic, almost, that today was the last day for Coming to Power and simultaneously the opening night for Fatter IRL. It felt as if the door was closing on second wave feminism, while still celebrating those women for the great strides they’d made both in feminism as a whole and in the art world, and opening the door for this next generation of women and non-binary artists. I’m genuinely thrilled to have been able to see both in one day and experience the metaphorical passing of the torch. I hope to one day see a 25th anniversary retrospective of Fatter IRL, only to then attend the opening night party for whatever the next phase will be.

Tetanus!

I got a tetanus shot today!

When walking in Chinatown yesterday I felt something in my shoe, like a tiny rock or shard of glass. I tried to push it to the side, or ignore it until I got home but after about 20 minutes I Just couldn’t stand it any more. Turns out a staple had poked through the sole of my shoe. And not a regular office staple, it was industrial sized and my toe was bleeding. I limped home and this morning made my way to an urgent care clinic a few blocks from my apartment.

Some things I learned about tetanus while frantically googling:

  • It has a 72 hour incubation period
  • You should get a booster shot every 10 years (so I’m set til 2026!)
  • If you may have been exposed and you haven’t had the shot in 10 years you should try to get it within 24 hours

The clinic I went to was surprisingly great. It was clean and everyone was super nice.  I was the only one there so my visit went incredibly quickly.

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The Justin Bieber Photos: To look or not to look?

There’s been another celebrity nude photo scandal, this time it’s Justin Bieber who has been photographed au natural by the paps in while vacationing with his lady friend (Jayde Pierce) in Bora Bora. Pretty much the exact moment the photos hit the internet every single blog and magazine told me not to look at them. (Too little too late though ‘cause lil’ perv that I am, I clicked the very first link to the photos I saw.) These well meaning sites likened the Bieber Leak to last year’s “Fappening” when nearly 500 photos of female celebs, many of them entirely or partially nude, hit the web after a massive data breach. If we got so up in arms about those photos (as we should have, because it was gross and disturbing), they argue, it is hypocritical to peek and the Biebz. This, however, is not the case. It’s apples and oranges. While what happened to Bieber was unquestionably wrong, it’s not the same as last year’s photo leak, and equating the two does a disservice to all the victims.

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BILL COSBY, CONSENT, AND THE BODY

This piece originally appeared at The Radical Notion (Aug 6, 2015) Starting this month, I am a regular contributor to TRN, check it out on Facebook and Twitter for the latest. 

Recently, The New York Times ran a story covering Bill Cosby and the deposition he gave in 2005. The deposition was part of his defense against a young woman, Andrea Constand, who was suing him on grounds he had drugged and molested her. Cosby’s language in the deposition (or at least the parts The Times chose to publish) makes him sound like a man who has thoroughly “othered” women. Based on his statements, it becomes clear that he views women not as fully developed people but as simplistic children (“Mr. Cosby said he tended to refrain from intercourse because he did not want women to fall in love with him.”) unsure of what they want, and it was his job to guide them in their lives and into his bed. The Times described him as a “cavalier playboy.”

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Backstreet’s Back, Alright? – Why you should totally check out the BSB documentary on Netflix

The Backstreet Boys these days. Backstreet Men?

I just finished the Backstreet Boys documentary (Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of currently streaming on Netflix) and let me tell you, it was amazing. Much like their music it doesn’t go deep, it doesn’t make you think, it just gives you what you want. It plucks at the heart strings in a very basic, obvious way, just like all their songs. It’s simple, it’s less than 2 hours long and it’s perfect.

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