Remember how there used to be a time when TV was just a bunch of badly scripted shows that forced you to laugh because of their laugh track?
And then TV producers discovered they could make money easily and cheaply by making reality shows.
Suddenly, it became normal for people to put their entire personal lives out in the open, especially if it meant they got their 15 minutes of fame and a few bucks to go with it.
Then the internet came around. And slowly, everyone began to realize they could have their own online reality show. A self-created Truman Show.
Everyone knows the internet is all about private information going public, but recently this idea seems to have reached a fever pitch.
A site recently launched called Jewrotica. The mission of this site, seemingly, is to make sex in the context of Judaism more public (you can read more about it here, in a Times of Israel blog post with a few marginally NSFW images). The creator of the site proclaims that while sex is not seen as evil within Judaism as it is with many other religions, it still seems to remain a very private thing, something hidden in the shadows, kept out of sight of the rest of the world. Jews have excelled in so many artistic endeavors, she claims, but never in the world of erotica. A horrible gap, she claims, that is just crying to be filled.
I found this argument fascinating.
Essentially, a group of Jews, many of whom I respect very much and even look up to, have come to the conclusion that public equals good and private equals bad.
This is a shame.
Because what these editors, these writers, these social media mavens, and all the rest, don’t seem to understand is that the very reason Judaism doesn’t demonize sex, the very reason it is not something taboo or evil, is because it is something private.
America consumes by far the most pornography in the world, is by far the most sex-obsessed nation in the world, and has no shortage of inappropriate ads, TV shows, movies, and every other type of media. And yet, Americans have less sex than most of the rest of the world.
This seems, at first, counter-intuitive. But the truth is that it is perfectly logical.
There are certain things in our lives that are so sensitive, special, and personal, that they can only thrive if we keep them private. This is why Judaism has strict rules about tznius and lashon hara. It’s why I can’t go around telling you all the sins I do, because I’m not even allowed to speak negatively about myself. A person can’t grow if their issues become too public. And it’s also why it’s wrong to speak so publicly about something so private as love and making love.
Not because it is “wrong,” and not for all the reactionary reasons most people will give that are against this site. But because when we make something like sex a public, glorified act, we turn it into reality TV. We turn the very thing that is meant to be only two people, into sideshow entertainment. Into a performance that is judged and weighed, as opposed to a connection that exists in its own world.
What’s sad about Jewrotica is that they are doing the exact opposite of what they intend to do. They think they’re revolutionizing but they’re doing the same thing as everyone else is doing (i.e. selling sex). They think they’re helping the Jewish world when in fact they’re doing incomparable damage to themselves and others. They think they’re creating when they’re destroying.
There are so many better things we could all be putting our energies into. Things that could truly raise the world up, truly make the world a special and G-dly place. The people with all those amazing gifts of writing, marketing, and more, would do better to raise the world in a way that’s truly special.