If the statistics are accurate, American Jewish men are not that much more likely to be married to non-Jews than are American Jewish women. We must then ask why ‘shiksa’ is a household name, while ‘goy’ has no overtly sexual connotations, and is not used in reference to Jewish women specifically.

1) Stereotypes: The stereotypical Jew, in America, is smart and clever, rich if not all that attractive, coarse-featured and dark-haired. The stereotype works more to the advantage of Jewish men than Jewish women. Even if phrased in the most flattering way possible–‘intelligent, raven-haired, petite’–the Jewish stereotype is not tall, blonde, and naive. Which is not to say that plenty of Jewish women do not fit that description. But it makes for a less involved plot line for movies and such if the gender roles mesh with the ethnic ones.

2) Storytellers: If both men and Jews are overrepresented among writers, directors, and so forth, we are hearing a disproportionately large number of stories about what Jewish men find sexy. Since observant Jews who stay within their communities are probably underrepresented among writers, directors, etc., there will be more stories about intermarriage than you’d get from a random sample of American Jewish men. Since we are also hearing more about what non-Jewish men like than we are about what any women like, it might seem like there’d be more about non-Jewish men and Jewish women. However, non-Jews of both sexes are probably less concerned with adding Jewish themes to the entertainment they produce.

3) Continuity: This is more about the Jewish community than movies. According to religious law, a Jewish woman’s children are Jewish, no matter who the father. So unless the father is devout, the panic is minimal. A Jewish man ‘led astray’ is seen as repopulating the gentile world at the expensive of the Jewish one.

4) Last names: The mother may determine if the child is Jewish or not within the Jewish community, but to all who have not discussed matters of faith with the mother, a child with a last name like Cohen or Rabinowitz is assumed Jewish, and will be referred to as such even if by some technicality this is not the case, even if this name comes from a great-great-great-grandfather. So much for matrilineality. When in conversation people (Jews or non-Jews) attempt to determine who is a Jew, they go by name, as the stereotypes mentioned above do not, of course, say much about reality. So in day-to-day life, you are more likely to find out that an acquaintance whose religion you do not know is the product of an intermarriage between a Jew and a non-Jew if the father is the Jewish parent than if the mother is. Thus it seems like there are tons more products of Jewish man-gentile woman pairings than the other way around.

5) Lust: Men are assumed to be making the decisions when it comes to initiating romantic relationships. More to the point, they are also imagined to be led by something other than their minds when making these decisions, whereas women are assumed to be more rational, if not pragmatic, in these matters. The community thus comes in to tell men where they should or should not put their anatomy. It’s seen as less acceptable to blame women for failing to lure Jewish men; a non-Jewish partner is presumed to be the result of no Jewish man having done any pursuing. The thought that Jewish women are lusting after non-Jewish men in particular is as unthinkable as the thought that women are lusting after men, period.

6) The ‘Singles Crisis’: It is said that men– of all faiths and ethnicities– have more options as they age than do women. Thus there are going to be more women than men at 40-plus Jewish singles events, as would be the case at a non-denominational version of the same. Since the Jewish community is preoccupied with ‘singles’ and the inevitable accompanying events, it looks as though Jewish men don’t care, while the pious women remain. When it fact the men may simply be in relationships, quite possibly with younger Jewish women.

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