Human Rights Group Blasts Lena Dunham’s ‘Jewish Boyfriend or Dog’ Quiz
Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Friday criticized a “troubling” essay written by actress Lena Dunham, in which she compares her Jewish boyfriend to her dog. The ADL said the article evokes offensive stereotypes about Jews.
“Some will certainly find offensive Lena Dunham’s stereotypes about cheap Jews offensive. Others will take issue with the very idea of comparing a dog and a Jewish boyfriend,” said ADL National Director Abraham Foxman. “The piece is particularly troubling because it evokes memories of the ‘No Jews or Dogs Allowed’ signs from our own early history in this country, and also because, in a much more sinister way, many in the Muslim world today hatefully refer to Jews as ‘dogs.'”
The ADL added that it doubts Dunham intended to evoke the offensive comparisons.
Dunham’s controversial piece, titled “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz,” was published in the March 30th issue of The New Yorker. The creator of the HBO series Girls asked her readers to guess whether a number of statements applied to her dog or her Jewish boyfriend.
Among the statements in the article Dunham writes, “he expects to be waited on hand and foot by the women in his life, and anything less than that makes him whiny and distant” and “he is openly hostile toward the Hasidic community, focusing most of his rage on their bulky (but chic) fur hats.”
In another paragraph she focuses on upbringing, saying, “…he comes from a culture in which mothers focus every ounce of their attention on their offspring and don’t acknowledge their own need for independence as women. They are sucked dry by their children, who ultimately leave them as soon as they find suitable mates.”
Foxman said humor is a “matter of taste” and while the ADL understands “that humor is its own special brand of expression” and always tries “to give leeway to comedians,” the group said it wishes Dunham had chosen a “less insensitive way to publicly reflect on her boyfriend’s virtues and vices.”
Though Dunham, who is Jewish, has yet to comment on the piece, other critics have reacted sharply to the article on Twitter, accusing her of antisemitism and slamming her for promoting negative Jewish stereotypes.
“Ignorant, anti-Semitic piece in @NewYorker by @lenadunham,” one critic wrote. “Dating a Jewish man does not mean you can compare them to dogs. Obviously.” Another said, “Big fan Lena but was sad to see you use such crappy stereotypes of Jewish ppl for this article.”
“Disgusted by your ‘quiz’ comparing dogs and your Jewish boyfriend. Not funny. Not ironic. Anti-Semitic!” said another Twitter user, while another sarcastically wrote, “Oh good @lenadunham made jokes about Jews and money in the New Yorker, sure is a great time in history to evoke those stereotypes.”
Others rebuked The New Yorker for publishing the article. One Twitter user told the publication “shame on your for publishing it,” adding, “you must realize the anti-Semitic tone of this highly offensive piece.” Foxman said he was “surprised” that The New Yorker chose to print the story.
Subsequent articles responding to Dunham’s piece include “Lena Dunham Equated Jews to Dogs & That’s Not OK” published by Kveller, a popular Jewish parenting blog.