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Jewesses with Attitude

Where are the 'kick-ass' Jewish women?

Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds has got the Jewish blogosphere buzzing about revenge fantasies and what it means to see Jews 'kicking ass and takin' names' on the big screen.  Last week Newsweek gave us a run-down of films featuring hardcore Jews, including classic favorites like the Hebrew Hammer and the men of Defiance.  Surprise, surprise, there are no Jewish women represented.  At all. 

What's going on here?  Are there no films featuring kick-ass female Jewish characters?  To be honest, I'm having trouble thinking of any.  Please, help!

Who are your favorite kick-ass Jewish women, in film or real life?

11 Comments

Military action could be seen as badass (however fultile), but Golda Meir was anything but a feminist. She opened no doors to Israeli women in politics and did nothing to address the inequalities women faced in her country.

How about Golda Meir's government going after the terrorists after the 1972 Munich Olympics. Two words: Bad Ass.

Kickass Jewess on screen? Try Barbra Streisand as Katie Mirasky in The Way We Were. Katie is an outspoken, principled, beautiful Jewish women (with curly hair!) who has an incredible life, sleeps with a wishy washy Robert Redford, and ends the movie happy! I don't think I've ever seen a more positive portrayal of Jewish womanhood on screen.

For an explanation of our choice to use the word Jewess, please visit the post: Jewesses: Jappy, Bizarre, or Cool? If you would like to add to the discussion, please leave a comment on that page!

Please don't use the word "Jewess." We don't say "Christianess" or "Muslimess." We do say "tigress." Most writers today consider "Jewess" derogatory, just as they would "Negress."

The most bad ass Jewish woman I know is Leah B herself!

Thanks for this posting. My wife and I spent an entertaining dinner focused on the topics raised by this post. My wife finally came up with our utlimate kick-ass Jewish woman - Maude in Harold and Maude. Unafraid of anything life can deal out, Maude drives like a terror and loves like a puppy. As a Holocaust survivor, she says exactly what she thinks and takes her revenge on death by inspiring a deep love of life in Harold. Since Ruth Gordon also co-wrote "Adam's Rib", an early feminist film with Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, she also deserves credit for raising issues of women's empowerment in the world. Thank you, Ruth!

Don't miss Sarah Seltzer's response at The Sisterhood!

She seems not to be getting the kind of press that she should, but frankly the most badass person in Inglourious Basterds is the lead female character, Shoshanna Dreyfus. She's better at this Jewish-vengeance business than the titular characters, and she's an amateur, as it were.

I thought Cindy was cool - the Mossad agent girl who seduced Mordechai Vanunu after the latter disclosed top secret information about Dimona. This should be put on film, with Natalie Portman.

I'm afraid movies mostly depict Jewish women as overcaring mothers - fearsome alright, perhaps not quite kick-ass.

Well, Biblically Yael & Deborah kicked ass and took names. Miriam was pretty bad-ass too.

Superheroes: Batwoman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B... Kitty Pryde (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...

Others: Golda Meir (bad-ass) Ruth Bader Ginsburg (legislatively bad-ass?)

How to cite this page

Berkenwald, Leah. "Where are the 'kick-ass' Jewish women?." 24 August 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 22, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/kickass>.

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