I know, it took me by surprise as well. But according to Rabbi Rosenblatt, a spiritual leader who has been heard of by exactly nobody, she totes is not Jewish because he doesn’t agree with her. It’s kind of like saying that Robert de Niro isn’t Italian because he thought Meet the Parents should have been made at all, let alone two sequels.
I was going to write about this when it originally happened and go on a feminist rant about how Sarah Silverman’s body is not property of the Jewish faith and how idiotic it is to measure the success of a woman strictly by her procreative ability (unless, of course, you’re natural selection, at which point go right ahead), but I just couldn’t get the words to flow.
Fortunately, Miriam over at Brute Reason did a far better job than I could have. Go read her piece, and I would like to expand on some of the things she talked about.
First, one of Rosenblatt’s complaints is that Silverman talks about sex or, in his words, “making public that which is private, making crude that which is intimate, making sensual that which is spiritual.”
Miriam hits it right on the head:
Oh, that ludicrous idea that sex is something to be kept Sacred and Secret and Intimate or else it stops being awesome. I saw this myth trotted out during theNorthwestern fucksaw controversy of 2011, and here it is again. I’ll address it in detail some other time, but for now, let me just say this: it’s false.
The thing is, anything can be sacred, secret, or intimate. These are concepts that we apply to other things, but they tend to be personal. That “sex” is often considered all of these things is entirely arbitrary, the result of cultures that realize that controlling sexuality makes it easier to control people. I may as well say that billiards is private, intimate, and spiritual, requiring that one only play with a partner that they have made a lasting commitment to.
This isn’t to diminish the value of sex, which is one of my favorite things in the world, but let’s be honest here: it’s a really enjoyable activity that can bring you close to another person…but there are a lot of those. We grow intimacy through the act of sharing bits and pieces of our humanity, not just because we’ve penetrated or been penetrated by another human being.
The other thing that stood out to me was a brief discussion of how Rosenblatt doesn’t seem to get that Silverman just doesn’t place the same value on marriage and children that he does.
And I totally get that it can be very difficult to imagine that something you hold very, very dear isn’t really important to someone else, especially when it comes to life choices. Personally, I don’t really understand people who want to spend their lives doing stuff with money on computers rather than being therapists, but I’m sure that it’s not because of some terrible flaw in their character.
As an atheist, I get this a lot, too. People, especially evangelicals (though not all of them), assume that I must be miserable or unfulfilled because I don’t have a relationship with god (their god, specifically), and just coming to their church will somehow fill me with such love and awe that I will realize how much I had been missing out on. More often than not, this fills me with boredom, incredulity, and occasionally disgust. But still I get people insisting that no, this time it’s different, because they can’t imagine a life without church (their church) and prayer and everything else that comes with the mechanics of their faith.
There is nothing wrong with me because I don’t find comfort in things that make absolutely no sense to me. There is nothing wrong with Silverman because she doesn’t want to have children and possibly pass her depression (and propensity for fart jokes) on to them.
This “open letter” really is an exercise in projection for Rabbi Rosenblatt. He genuinely doesn’t seem to get that the things he values may not be universally valued. And that actually makes me a little sad, since it seems to indicate a deficiency of empathy, at least in regards to children.