Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

The limits of what we can write and say

Posted by Oyster on September 19, 2007

To writers and readers of Oy Bay:

A very interesting thing just happened. In the space of two hours, a post was written, rejected, and then taken down. One of our writers posted up a submitted piece of Jewish erotica writing. My general policy is to be very flexible with what Oy Bay’s writers publish. I’ve written some nasty words in my time, and uploaded some graphic cartoons. Other writers have posted pictures of Jewish porn stars workin’ their trade.

But what about this drew a line? The response from people was fast and furious. I wish I could point this out to people, but the writer decided to delete the post (which is their prerogative, though, I favor erring on the side of leaving up content, rather than deleting it).

Oy Bay strives to be a source of independent Jewish media, and as such, will push people’s traditional and preconceived views on what Jewish journalism is all about. This ain’t yo’ momma’s Jewish rag-about-town. If you want high-praise of everyone and puff-pieces about real issues, look elsewhere.

But on the other hand, there must be limits on the other side. Some things that we might publish might alienate our core readership, either from being off-topic or too extreme in view.

So tell me, fair readers, what is the line?

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9 Responses to “The limits of what we can write and say”

  1. chutzpaleh said

    I posted and deleted the submitted work. I thought the writing was excellent, and feel like doors need to be opened so that there is real authentic women’s erotic writing, as well as Jewish women’s erotic writing, as well as Jewish erotic writing. Women’s sexuality, in the Orthodox world and beyond, has to go beyond wanting to be wanted.

    It’s possible that these writings and explorations need to take place in a safe place first, that we nurture them like seedlings under the light. I’m concerned about protecting the woman who submitted the work. As my handle indicates, sometimes I feel like we need to slam the door OPEN in Orthodoxy and society. My role has often been that of the kol isha – the dangerous women’s voice – calling for holy chutzpah.

    That said, I’m completely exhausted after a full day’s work of Hogwarts School for Crazy-Fun Psychology, plus lit mag work. I’m aware that the possibility for pushing doors open too wide right now, and I feel a kind of vicarious vulnerability for all the women’s range of being that isn’t expressed because it’s “not appropriate” or “not tznius” – when male sexuality is often blatant and expected. So I deleted the post. I have the writing, still, and I’m interested to see where the boundaries will be drawn.

  2. TheKosherSheik said

    I’m a proponent of allowing the marketplace of ideas (responses from readers) to either validate or invalidate a posting. I also believe that it is essential to engage in discourse.

    I also believe that when a contribution is made in the form of an article, it is made under the colors of Oy Bay. Thus, if it is the best interest of Oy Bay to continue as an independent media outlet for Jewish people of the bay area (the best area), then perhaps a broad guideline should be put to use, such as allowing the writers to employ their discretion on use of language/subject matter/etc, so long as it is consistent with the operations of a media outlet that is premised on serving the Jewish people of the bay area.

    The beauty of a guideline is that it gives the writers a basis to defend their contributions to the blog and it creates an opportunity for the readers to respond favorably or unfavorably. It also makes the editor look like a focused proponent of free speech and discourse :-D!

    I need to get my tuchus back to posting.

  3. ArchAngelinAmerica said

    Unfortunately, I have missed this all too intriguing post.

    I have always been of the opinion that people are not forced to read things they find distasteful or offensive. If they don’t like something written, they shouldn’t read it. Or they should feel free to state their feelings about the writing, knowing that others will have different opinions.

    That being said…I can understand some people wanting a warning that they are about to read something “adult” in content. I don’t know if we want to go the route of posting warnings and deal with the potential can of worms it can open. But it is something to consider.

  4. whitefrodude said

    Now I fully agree with the “doors being flung open” thing and I thought the post was amusing. My point was that this should not be a regular posting on oy-bay.

  5. biggerlongeranduncut said

    I read the article and it actually shocked me. I was really surprised to read such an article about sex on Oy Bay. Shock isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I thought the piece was very honest and and interesting.

    I couldn’t believe this was written on Oy Bay, if every article contained sexual content I think it would drive away the Jewish audience the writers are looking for and perhaps more negative attention than anything else. But this is blog where adult content is discussed every day I would be far more worried if every article bordered on bigotry. If, as adults, we can discuss the rights of another religion, I don’t see why we cant talk about our feelings on erotica sex and lust. If someone did not feel comfortable with the post that is what the comment section is for.

    I think the post should have been left up however i can also understand that if chutzpaleh is bogged down with school and doesn’t have the time to defend the writing perhaps it was not the best time to post something that some see as controversial.

    Is it becasue we are americans that we are so prude?

    Is sex really so bad? Chances are your parents did it..

  6. Friar Yid said

    I didn’t get a chance to see it. My thoughts are similar to those of other folks’- pushing the boundaries means exactly that. If the issue is one of precedence, IMO that’s a different kettle of fish. Having a single posting of Jewish women’s erotica does not mean Oy Bay is assuming the mantle of your local one-stop-Jew-porn-shop (though I think that might help site hits, actually…)

    Whitefrodude makes an interesting point- if the problem is not wanting to scare or alienate readers or not wanting explicit content up front and center, an alternative might be to have a semi-regular feature/column linking to the material posted elsewhere, with discussions onsite and in comments. Then again, if the issue is merely that the topic is being mentioned on the site, I don’t think that these semi-creative solutions will placate the people who are objecting.

    Of course, I say all this without having laid eyes on the post or comments in question :P. Chutzpaleh, could you please email it to me? It would also be helpful for those of us coming in late if someone would offer up a brief summary of the issues raised in the comments. Was it just along the lines of “I don’t want to see that here!” or something else?

  7. minsky said

    Repost it! It couldn’t have been THAT good 😉

    Personal stand on guidelines: Erotica in – violence out. Don’t post reality pics of folks disgorged, or animals tortured. It’s just bad taste. Erotica, on the other hand, tends to attract readers. We already enjoy a very liberal atmosphere on this blog, and as long as the place doesn’t become a porn site, some titilation is just variety, especially of the very important “jewish women’s erotic writing”.

  8. Oyster said

    I vote in favor of having it reposted. I wasn’t comfortable with its complete deletion. When the time is right, I invite Chutzpaleh to repost it.

  9. KinkyJews said

    Chutzpaleh,

    I would be very please to have your story posted in the Jewish erotica section of the KinkyJews’ website. You can e-mail a copy to me at contact@kinkyjews.com or sign up at http://www.kinkyjews.com and post it yourself.

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