Thursday, September 02, 2010

Akin Gump: It was like taking a Three-Year European Vacation!

When I worked at the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld (1988-1991) there was a widespread rumor that I was homosexual.  It was a case of "old school" anti-Semitism.

In Europe male Jews have historically been constructed as feminine Others. Sander Gilman and Jay Geller demonstrate how Jews have been marginalised in military, sexual and domestic contexts.  Daniel Boyarin extends the framework of effeminacy to the context of male homosexuality, contending that European Jews struggled to escape from the label of homosexuality, an effect of their feminizing.  Like both Boyarins, David Itzkovitz problematizes the image of Jews in performative terms, but views Jews as queers through the process of a shared alterity. He argues that in the U.S. the European construct of Jew as Other is reconstructed allegorically into the Jew as nation. Identifying Jews as issuing from the "trope of secrecy," Itzkovitz draws attention to the shared "elusive identities" of Jews and gays.

From: Rob K. Baum, "Circumspection: Signs of G-d in Jewish Bodies," The Journal of Religion and Theatre, Vol. 5, No. 2, Fall 2006.


Gary Freedman said...

In The Merchant of Venice the character Shylock famously asks "Hath not a Jew eyes?"

Interestingly, psychoanalysts point out that the eyes are a symbolic substitute for the testicles. Shylock's question might be interpreted as "Because I am a Jew you think I am not a man?"

I wonder what Stephen Greenblatt would say?

Gary Freedman said...

Robert Baum

Associate Professor and Chair
Education: Ph.D.
Interest: African and Indigenous Religions

Dept. Religious Studies, Univ. Missouri