Professor Gross: 'Sexiest Intellectuals' List Can Be Dangerous for Academics

Monday, December 16, 2019

FORWARD -- Rachel B. Gross is the John and Marcia Goldman Professor of American Jewish Studies and an assistant professor in the Department of Jewish Studies San Francisco State University. Elias Sacks is associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies and incoming director of the program in Jewish studies at University of Colorado,Boulder. They wrote this letter to the editor of the Forward.

“We appreciate the Forward’s efforts to bring a fun perspective to Jewish intellectuals. Nevertheless, both of us have concerns about the third annual Sexiest Jewish Intellectuals list published December 8,” Gross and Sacks wrote.

“While the author, Jenny Singer, wants to redefine ‘sexy’ as intellectual prowess, that task is incomplete in a list that still emphasizes the physical attributes of each person. The appellation ‘sexiest’ is used here in a way that focuses attention on physical bodies rather than bodies of work. For those of us who teach at universities, the stereotype of the ‘hot professor” brings inappropriate conversations about physical attractiveness and sex into our workplaces and our classrooms.”