Jewish “Potty” Politics?

By Sarah Breger

vandeven_pottypolitics1-thumbThis is why I love academics: They take the ordinary, banal, and regular and infuse it with such overwhelming importance you are likely to think the blister cream used in the 1940s was just as important as D-Day (and who am I too argue it’s not?). But this new book, co-written by a Jewish studies professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, ratchets it up a notch. Ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender examines “the cultural meanings, histories, and ideologies of public toilets as gendered spaces,” and is being touted as “the first multi-disciplinary book about potty politics.”

Of Jewish interest is a foreword by prominent feminist theology scholar Judith Plaskow, as well as an entire chapter called “The Jew on the Loo: The Toilet in Jewish Popular Culture, Memory, and Imagination.” I am trying to imagine what’s in there—this definitely was not a course offered in Jewish Day School. [Temple University Press, Women’s International Perspective]


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