Let me make one thing clear before I get into this: Yes, I know that BuzzFeed’s recent video, “Perks Of Dating A Jewish Girl,” was meant as a joke. But the joke completely hinges on encouraging viewers to see Jewish girls as a monolith instead of as individuals, and that is inherently harmful.
Here are six things wrong with BuzzFeed’s “Perks Of Dating A Jewish Girl.”
1. The Assumption That All (Or Only) Jewish Girls Are Hyper-Prepared
In the first scene of the video, the boyfriend has an itchy mosquito bite. The Jewish girlfriend reveals that her bag not only has the things he needs to stop the itching and the swelling, but the full contents of a local pharmacy. To be frank, nothing about this scenario indicates to me that the girlfriend is Jewish. It just shows that she comes prepared for medical emergencies, which is something that any girl might choose to do. Putting Jewish girls on a pedestal in this way helps no one.
On a related note…
2. The Casual Trade Of Prescription Meds
In that same scene, the Jewish girlfriend gives the boyfriend a little orange bottle, quipping, “…and, Xanax, just for fun.” Xanax is a prescription drug for anxiety disorders. BuzzFeed, please do not assume that Jewish girls tend to hand out their prescription medicine. Hhat is not something that anyone should do. There is a big difference between sharing over-the-counter drugs and handing out things that come in those little orange bottles with white caps and treat mental illnesses.
3. The Use Of The “Greedy Jew” Stereotype
As the boyfriend laments not knowing what to get the Jewish girlfriend for their anniversary, she walks in to tell him that she sent him a wish-list of five items, “but you only need to get me three.” The implication is that she has done him a favor by telling him exactly what she wants, but apparently “what she wants” is three presents. I can’t help but associate this scene with a hundred other antisemitic depictions of Jewish people as greedy. Why didn’t BuzzFeed just end the joke with the existence of the wish list instead of having her demand more than one present?
Speaking of harmful stereotypes…
4. The Implication That All Jews Know Each Other
In a later scene, the Jewish girlfriend discovers that the boyfriend’s boss is Jewish and rattles off a bunch of people that she and the boss both know. I think BuzzFeed was going for, “Jewish girls are super social and able to discover such connections through conversation.” Unfortunately, this scene also implies that all Jews know each other. The idea that “all [insert minority here] know each other” is othering. It makes me cringe even more than how BuzzFeed seems to have mistaken extroversion, a good memory, and coincidence for Judaism.
5. The Assumption That All (Or Only) Jewish Girls Are Assertive
Later in the video, BuzzFeed shows the Jewish girlfriend asking a waiter to have the kitchen correct their mistake on the boyfriend’s meal and compensate them for the error. This is definitely something my mother would do, and consequently something that I would do because she has taught me so, but it is by no means something that all Jewish girls would do. It is something that a particular kind of self-assured, assertive customer does, regardless of religion.
Of course, it’s possible that BuzzFeed’s writers know a Jewish woman who casually sends back food that the kitchen made incorrectly. That woman is likely that casual about it because she has a lot of practice in, for example, sending a burger back to the kitchen because the cook forgot that she asked for no cheese. It isn’t a good thing that she knows how to send the meal back because restaurants keep screwing up kashrut – the restaurant ought to get it right the first time! Speaking of which…
6. The Contents Of That Picnic Basket
In the admittedly hilarious “She loves feeding people” scene, the Jewish girlfriend responds to the boyfriend’s comment that he’s “kinda hungry” by pulling out a heaping picnic basket. I could talk about the importance of food to Jewish culture and how there is some truth to the stereotype of Jewish mothers/grandmothers/parents/etc. wanting to keep you fed. But, as a Jewish girl who keeps kosher, I am more inclined to discuss why the contents of the picnic basket bug me. Why, for apparently the same meal, has she packed chicken and cheesecake? Does the sushi have shellfish in it? Combining milk and meat and eating shellfish at all are basic violations of kosher law.
Sure, not all Jews keep kosher. But none of the traits pointed out in this video particularly indicate that this girlfriend is Jewish, so having her do this thing that many Jews definitely would not do irks me.
Would you like to know an actual perk of dating a Jewish girl, BuzzFeed? She is a unique, individual person.