The New York Times Turns Bikini-Clad Natalie Portman Into the Carnal Jew
This coming Sunday’s issue of “T,” the New York Times’ glossy style magazine, features a conversation between two Ivy League-educated Jewish professionals about the Sabbath, Jerusalem, Hebrew etymology and “the wrath of G-d.”
It’s illustrated with photographs of one of the two of them in a bathing suit. In one of the photographs, this one of the two people is lying supine on a bed.
One of the two participants in the conversation is a man, and the other is a woman.
Guess which one there are bathing suit pictures of? Guess which one is on her back in bed in the bathing suit?
Yep. Sure enough, along with a Times article headlined, “The emails of Natalie Portman and Jonathan Safran Foer,” there are 8 — eight! — photos of Natalie Portman, and zero pictures — not a single one — of Jonathan Safran Foer.
In six of the photos, Ms. Portman is wearing a bathing suit. In many of them, she is also wearing a sweater and socks.
There are no pictures of Mr. Foer in a bathing suit. No pictures of him on his back in bed in a tight bathing suit, midriff exposed.
What accounts for the discrepancy in treatment between the two participants?
When Donald Trump asked a professional model to change into a bikini, the New York Times turned it, 26 years later, into a front-page news article that described Mr. Trump’s behavior as “debasing.” The article ran under the headline: “Crossing the Line: How Donald Trump Behaved With Women in Private.”
Likewise, the Times has recently been going to town against Fox News executive Roger Ailes, devoting two front-page news articles — and at least four more articles on the front of the business section — to a lawsuit by a former anchor, Gretchen Carlson, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation, allegations that Mr. Ailes denies. The Times gives extensive coverage to Ms. Carlson’s complaint that, among other things, she wasn’t allowed to wear pants on the air — yet the Times itself illustrates a conversation between a man and a woman with photos of the woman in — not pants — but a bikini.
One might think that, given the front-page stories about Mr. Ailes and Mr. Trump, the Times editors would be a little more careful about illustrating a conversation about the Sabbath and Hebrew etymology with a photo of the woman participant in the conversation on her back in bed wearing a two-piece bathing suit. Or that, given that the previous editor of the Times, Jill Abramson, was fired after complaining that she was paid less than a man in the same job, the newspaper might be a bit more sensitive to even the appearance of sexist treatment of a Jewish woman.
But this is the same “T” magazine that recently described one character as “a warm and decorous French Jew” (as opposed to the rest of us ordinary loud and obnoxious Jews). It is a publication, in other words, that traffics in coarse, antisemitic stereotypes. Add the classic Christian slander of the hypersexualized Jewish woman — the “carnal Jew” — to the growing list of “T” magazine’s crimes against the Jewish people. I’m looking forward to seeing the Jewish feminist organizations condemn this one.
More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.