Sigh. Just when you think that only good old-fashioned fun can come from browsing Hanukkah sweaters online, you stumble upon one that makes you cringe with its gross, offensive stereotyping of Jewish women. Is nothing sacred anymore?
Tipsy Elves, the popular purveyor of “ugly” Christmas and Hanukkah sweaters, has really crossed a line with their women’s Gelt Digger Hanukkah sweater, which brings up all those fun tropes of gold-digging “Japs,” now with a bonus holiday twist! If the sweater alone doesn’t get to you, the product description from the website surely should:
The only person you let near your Hanukkah bush are doctors and lawyers. But hey, no one said it was easy being chosen.
First of all, ew. Second of all, seriously? Not only is this dealing in a bullsh*t stereotype, but it’s a dated stereotype at that. Let’s be real–Jewish women today are much more likely to BE doctors and lawyers than desperately scramble to date one. Just to make sure I wasn’t crazy, I polled some fellow Jewish women for their thoughts on the sweater, and the consensus is in: “They couldn’t use more negative stereotypes if they tried;” “Totally plays into every stereotype that we try to rise above, time and again;” “horribly offensive;” “disgusting;” and my favorite, “I mean, if we’re going to peddle in stereotypes let’s at least come up with some that are of the moment.”
Another friend pointed out that this is reminiscent of a t-shirt that Urban Outfitters was peddling back in 2004, which featured the text “Everyone loves a Jewish girl” with images of dollar signs and shopping bags. It’s been 12 years since that flub–yet clearly we are still fighting the same battles today.
Of course you can say we’ve got bigger problems to worry about these days–with a documented rise of anti-Semitism and other hate crimes–and a sweater is just a sweater. But as long as companies continue to push products that deal in these offensive stereotypes, the longer we’ll deal with people actually believing these things to be true. And unlike the oil that lasted eight days in the Hanukkah story, snubbing out these tired tropes would be the true miracle here.
In the meantime, I’m sticking with this Happy Llamakkah sweater, because there’s nothing offensive about llamas, right?