Jewish mothers lobby for right to nag all their kids about getting married

Even the gay ones. This lovely ad from New Yorkers United for Marriage stars the Blumenthals, a New York couple who have one straight son, who is married, and one gay son, who is not legally allowed to get married. And the Blumenthals want to change this. Because Jewish mothers like to bug their kids about hurrying up and getting married and giving me some grandchildren already before I die because I’m not going to be around forever you know my health isn’t what it used to be, and right now the New York state legislature is standing in the way of that. Despite new data from Quinnipiac showing 58% of New Yorkers support same sex marriage.


Iris Blumenthal: We’ve been married for forty-seven years and have two sons. Our older son is straight and has been married for fifteen years. Our youngest son is gay and has been in a committed relationship for eleven years. A good marriage is thinking about and caring for the other person even more than you care about yourself and we’ve seen this in Jonathan and Eric’s relationship to each other. They’re a wonderful couple, they’re a caring couple. It would give us such great joy to walk them down the aisle and watch them get married.

Pam’s House Blend reports that the ad will be running statewide starting this week, so if you’re a New Yorker, keep a look out. New Yorkers United for Marriage will also be sending out mailers with a tear off “reply” card, as for a wedding, for New Yorkers to send to their legislators, so when you get yours in the mail, be sure to sign it and send it off!

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/kimchi/ Kh-L

    “Because Jewish mothers like to bug their kids about hurrying up and getting married and giving me some grandchildren already before I die because I’m not going to be around forever you know my health isn’t what it used to be, and right now the New York state legislature is standing in the way of that…”

    Seriously? This woman is expressing love for her gay son and support for his relationship. So why did you use this video *on a feminist site* as a chance to air your ‘joke-stereotypes’ of Jewish women — as nagging, manipulative, overbearing shrews with poor health (and some connection to a ‘Jewish lobby’)? It’s totally gratuitous.

    There’s plenty of feminist writing against the stereotyping of American Jewish women and gender-coded anti-Semitic tropes (see under: Weiner, comments today…). For starters, there’s “You Never Call, You Never Write! A History of the Jewish Mother” by Joyce Antler, about the historical construction of the sexist Jewish mother stereotype.

    …unless you’re trying to reclaim these stereotypes, in which case, let us know when “ShrewWalk” is the new SlutWalk.

    • http://feministing.com/members/gibby/ Nina

      Sorry…I didn’t mean to click report on the comment….

      But seriously Kh-L, you’re grasping for straws here when you intimate that Chloe is making some suggestion about a Jewish lobby – it is absolutely fucking ridiculous. She was taking about the NY legislature. It sounds more like your own personal bias is coming through with that comment… And frankly, trying to paint this as a anti-Semitic picture is totally disingenuous. Perhaps it was a tactless representation (or maybe Iris Blumenthal was describing herself, hence the italics…I don’t know), but trying to make it into something that it isn’t is just shameful on your part.

  • http://feministing.com/members/chataya/ Brianne Jones

    Seriously, Feministing?!

    Offensive stereotypes don’t stop being offensive just because they are being used to promote a good cause.

  • davenj

    Way to take a beautiful video and ruin it with unnecessary anti-semitic stereotypes.

    “Iris Blumenthal: We’ve been married for forty-seven years and have two sons. Our older son is straight and has been married for fifteen years. Our youngest son is gay and has been in a committed relationship for eleven years. A good marriage is thinking about and caring for the other person even more than you care about yourself and we’ve seen this in Jonathan and Eric’s relationship to each other. They’re a wonderful couple, they’re a caring couple. It would give us such great joy to walk them down the aisle and watch them get married.”

    I don’t see the part in there where Mrs. Blumenthal nags anyone. But hey, we all know Jewish women do that, so it was probably off-camera.

  • http://feministing.com/members/chloe/ Chloe

    Kh-l, Brianne and davenj, thanks for weighing in and thanks for pointing out that my joke was innappropriate. As a Jewish woman with a Jewish grandmother of my own, the pressure to find a nice Jewish boy, and sooner rather than later, has been part of my experience of growing up. But you’re absolutely right that the joke was based in a stereotype that can be deployed in a harmful way – it’s one that I’ve had deployed against me on more than one occasion. However, I don’t personally see any problem with Jews fondly embracing that stereotype among themselves. I understand that not all Jews feel that way, but it’s been my experience that laughing at ourselves is a crucial part of Jewish culture. In fact, it’s one of my favourite parts.

    • davenj

      I agree, and employ the same jokes with my own family. I just think there’s a private/public dissonance, and this isn’t a Jewish website. It’s easy to see this site as a safe space for everything when it isn’t. That’s not a knock, because no one site can be everything to everyone.

    • http://feministing.com/members/chataya/ Brianne Jones

      Oh, I understand! I was just a little shocked to see that stereotype just thrown out like that, when the video transcript makes no mention of it, and on a feminist website, too.

      I do think it is an issue of private versus public spheres. Certain jokes just don’t come off well in an out-of-context situation. My friends make jokes about my race ( a significant part of my heritage being Native American, I don’t “code” easily for some people) but I would be offended if a stranger demanded to know my race. I tease my boyfriend at home about his love of musical theater, but wouldn’t dare do so in public because I know something like that would be misconstrued or even triggering for some.

    • http://feministing.com/members/robinfaith/ Robin

      I think the problem with this joke is a question of context more than a question of public/private. Because of the way this was originally presented, I had no way of knowing that the poster was Jewish and thus embracing the stereotype instead of applying it to others, or that she has a conception for the ways in which this stereotype can be harmful. All of these things could potentially have been contextualized in the post, which is a public forum and I wouldn’t have the kind of problem with it that I had when reading this headline. However, since this is meant to be a post about supporting gay marriage in New York not examining stereotypes of Jewish women, it might have been simpler to just skip it.

  • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    I gotta say, while it is a beautiful ad, I didn’t catch anything in it about “nagging” them to marry or produce grandchildren, so I’m really not sure where all that stereotypical stuff came from. For that matter, I’m not sure where this stereotype even evolved as the sole province of Jewish mothers, since in America at least the desire to see grown children happily married and often reproducing seems to be a commonality people I know from all backgrounds experience. (I know my Catholic, Cuban grandmother asks me for a great-grandchild at least once in every conversation I have with her.)

    • davenj

      Part of the stereotype of the Jewish wife/mother is that they’re the dominant figure in the household, such that they emasculate their husbands and sons. In doing so they deny Jewish males essential components of masculinity, and as a result suggest that Jewish males cannot be fully “masculine”, because their wives/mothers hold all the power. Conversely, because Jewish wives/mothers have all this power they cannot be fully “feminine”.

      The goal of this process is to make the “Jew” different, in that they don’t comply strictly enough to “normal” gender roles. Their men are too un-masculine, and therefore are weak and undesirable. Their women are too masculine, and therefore are overbearing and undesirable. Popular imagery reinforces this, such that when one thinks “Jewish male” or “Jewish female” one thinks of overly masculine Jewish women and underly masculine Jewish men.

      The stereotype may be based in the original truth of the story of many Eastern European Jewish immigrants, and in traditions and customs passed down since then, but it’s a stereotype, so it’s obviously not true across the board, and it can also malign and impugn many people.