“As activists, professionals, artists, and intellectuals, Jewish feminists have shaped every aspect of American life.” – Jewish Women’s Archive1
The foundational text of what became known as “second-wave feminism” was The Second Sex, which was written by the French woman Simone de Beauvior in 1948, and published in English in 1953 (the “first wave” of feminism had dissipated after the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in 1920).
“Jews in America have been sexual revolutionaries. A large amount of the material on sexual liberation was written by Jews. Those at the forefront of the movement which forced America to adopt a more liberal view of sex were Jewish.” – Dr. Nathan Abrams1
The single most important figure in the sexualization of the West was the self-described “fanatical Jew,” Sigmund Freud.2
Freud was born to Galician Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1856, and from the age of four lived in Vienna, where he would develop the theories of “psychoanalysis” and found the psychoanalytic movement.
“Under the[Hicklin test], any obscenity in a work, no matter how slight, contaminated the whole; under the [Roth test], any slight redeeming trait purified it.” – Leo Pfeffer1
The first major publication to reap the benefits of the precedent set by the Roth decision (discussed in part 3), was Howl and Other Poems by the Jewish “Beat” poet Allen Ginsberg.
The Beats, or the “Beat Generation,” were a literary clique centered around Ginsberg. They were all criminals, degenerates, junkies and mentally insane sexual deviants, and indeed reveled in those qualities and promoted them as the ideal way to be. In effect, they were the precursor to the broader “counterculture” movement which would ultimately revolutionize America with “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll” in the 1960s and 1970s (see part 5).
“If Roth were not the opportunistic, irascible, and sometimes megalomaniacal idealist he was, the early 1960s advances in freedom of expression would not have happened when they did” – Jay Gertzman1
Samuel Roth (Hebrew name Mishillim) was born in 1894 in a shtetl in the Eastern European region between Austria and Poland then known as Galicia. His family emigrated to New York in 1904, when he was about 10 years old.
Roth worked at some odds and ends jobs and then began writing poetry and resolved to go into publishing, where he would continually push the boundaries of what was considered acceptable throughout his entire career, ultimately getting himself arrested no less than 8 times and serving a total of nine years of his adult life in prison.
Having his offices raided at least once a year from 1927 to 1931, Roth was caught and charged for distributing a myriad of banned and obscene materials, such as the infamous Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence (which is discussed in part 4) and portions of Ulysses by James Joyce (which is discussed in part 1). Both were unauthorized.