Heroic Conduct: Homoeroticism and the Creation of Modern, Jewish Masculinities
Jewish Social Studies: history, culture and society
Indiana University Press
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Peleg, Y. (2006). Heroic Conduct: Homoeroticism and the Creation of Modern, Jewish Masculinities. Jewish Social Studies: history, culture and society, 13 (1), 31-58. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/213658
In his book, Unheroic Conduct, The Rise of Heterosexuality and the Invention of the Jewish Man, Daniel Boyarin offers an intriguing interpretation of the Zionist revolution at the dawn of the 20th century. One of Boyarin’s most suggestive claims is that early Zionism involved a gender revolution that called for European Jews to shed their perceived effeminate characteristics and become more masculine as part of the creation of a renewed Jewish nation in Palestine. Boyarin contends that the Zionists' fight against popular anti-Semitic characterizations included an aggressive heterosexualizing agenda that sought to sever the alleged ties between Jewishness, effeminacy and ultimately also homosexuality by tying together Jewish national and sexual normalization. The creation of a New Jew in Eretz Yisrael at the beginning of the 20th century certainly bears Boyarin's contention about the radical change in Jewish socialization, especially the process of masculinization it involved. It does not bear, however, Boyarin's heterosexualizing hypothesis; the assertion that Zionists embarked upon an elaborate attempt to "straighten" Jewish society after they found it "queered" in the context of the emerging modern categories of homo and hetero-sexuality. But while an examination of homoerotic elements in Hebrew literature in the past century shows that the sexual anxiety that shaped the image of the new Jew was perhaps oblivious to homosexuality, it still bears witness to the enduring power of Boyarin's masculinization model. This can be seen most ironically in cotemporary gay literature in Israel, which has adopted this model in reverse and seeks to normalize Israeli gay men through masculine associations that often involve military service.
External link: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/213658
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/294316