Luce Irigaray’s call for infinite femininity and Judith Butler’s perspective on subversion from within have inspired scholars and lay people alike within Judaism to find precedence in religious texts for tolerance of atypical manifestations of love and gender in order to enable such manifestations outside a patriarchal, bipolar gender taxonomy. Not disputing the immense value of such subversion, this article reflects on the risk implied in subversive uses of scripture by assessing the extent to which scriptural discourse still sanctions discursive violence in late modernity, directed at individuals who do not conform to normative gender and love. The first part of the article analyses biblical and rabbinical, including mystical, texts that portray human love of God and God’s love of humans in ways that are seemingly tolerant toward deviation from normative gender and love. As part of the analysis, I shall reflect on the discourse underlying the apparently tolerant, yet contradictory portrayals of gender and love. The second part of the article presents a brief trajectory of how normative conceptions of gender and love in Jewish religion have changed from Antiquity until today. The trajectory informs the final part of the article that evaluates the consequences for non-conforming individuals within late modern Jewish denominations when they turn to the varied representations of gender and love in Jewish religious texts to sanction their alternative identities.
Ethnicities: Inter-disciplinary Explorations, 2013, Vol 13, Issue 1, p. 19-40
Irigaray, Butler, performativity, subversion, gender, love, Judaism, scripture, cultural discourse