Fighting to Become Americans: Assimilation and the Trouble Between Jewish Women and Jewish Men

Fighting to Become Americans: Assimilation and the Trouble Between Jewish Women and Jewish Men

by Riv-Ellen Prell
     
 

Her exaggerated coiffure, with its imitation curls and soaped curves that stick out at the side of the head like fantastic gargoyles, is an offense to the eye. Her plated gold jewelry with paste stones reveals its cheapness by its very extravagance.

This description of a "ghetto girl" was printed in the American Jewish News in 1918, but with slight variation it

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Overview

Her exaggerated coiffure, with its imitation curls and soaped curves that stick out at the side of the head like fantastic gargoyles, is an offense to the eye. Her plated gold jewelry with paste stones reveals its cheapness by its very extravagance.

This description of a "ghetto girl" was printed in the American Jewish News in 1918, but with slight variation it might easily be mistaken for a description of our current pernicious and pejorative stereotype of Jewish womanhood, the "JAP." What are the origins of these stereotypes? And even more important, why would an American ethnic group use racist terms to describe itself? Riv-Ellen Prell asks these compelling questions as she observes how deeply anti-Semitic stereotypes infuse Jewish men's and women's views of one another in this history of Jewish acculturation in the twentieth century.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Gutsy and imaginative . . . convincingly engages a range of complex issues about how men and women, Jews and gentiles, perceive one another. —Kirkus Reviews

"While Jews and feminists have over the years repeatedly debated whether the JAP is 'real' or not, Prell's research breaks new ground because she examines the class anxieties underlying the image. . . . [Fighting to Become Americans] will challenge any reader's preconceptions about who is and is not an American and why." —Laura Brahm, The Women's Review of Books

"Well-written and lively." —Jewish World

"A definitive and fascinating history of the complex relationships between Jewish men and women in the twentieth century." —George Cohen, Booklist

"[S]hows how the stereotypes we accept and create about ourselves mirror our anxieties in American society. . . . [Prell's] analyses are telling and original." —Ruth F. Brin, St. Paul Pioneer Press

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807036334
Publisher:
Beacon
Publication date:
04/28/1999
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
319
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.69(d)

Meet the Author

Riv-Ellen Prell is author of Prayer and Community: The Havurah in American Judaism, winner of the National Jewish Book Award. She is currently professor of American studies at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

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