_(excerpted from original article)_
Naomi Wolf is the kind of intellectual who demands a response, even if it’s a roll of the eyes. The 43-year-old Rhodes Scholar and Yale graduate became the cover girl of third-wave feminism with her first book, the international bestseller _The Beauty Myth_, published when she was just 29. The book argued that the ideal of the physically perfect woman, as advanced by the media and the beauty industry, had replaced the ideal of the perfect homemaker in preventing women from gaining political and economic power. Ironically, like Gloria Steinem before her, Wolf’s own photogenic looks—thick, dark hair and creamy skin—became an indelible part of her public image.
She’s been a media staple ever since, for better or worse. She wrote scholarly-yet-personal screeds about feminist strategies (_Fire with Fire_), women’s sexual awakenings (_Promiscuities_) and the existential difficulties of motherhood (_Misconceptions_), and co-founded a women’s leadership organization (The Woodhull Institute) and a mothers’ advocacy group (Mothers Ought To Have Equal Rights). But in recent years, she’s gotten the most attention for allegedly telling Al Gore to wear earth tones as an advisor on his presidential campaign and, last year, for claiming in a controversial _New York_ magazine cover story that Shakespearean scholar Harold Bloom had sexually harassed her when she was an undergrad.
Her new book, _The Treehouse_, is her most personal yet—a warm memoir of her father, Leonard Wolf, a San Francisco bohemian poet and professor. Even though it has more in common with _Tuesdays with Morrie_ than _The Dialectic of Sex_, it bears an undercurrent of eros: Her father’s extramarital affairs produced a brother Wolf met only as an adult.
So when _Heeb_ wanted a more serious look at the underpinnings of Jewish desire, we looked no further. What is singular about our masculinity and femininity? Can a nebbish be potent? Can a curvy, dark-haired Jewess be a siren? When does a taboo of in-group ethnic purity become a fetish, or an outright perversion? Her answers invoke the holy trinity of sex, power and spirituality.