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“Philip Roth was one of the most important authors to blow this out of the water: that this was a debilitating thing to the Jewish male, rather than a wonderful thing,” says Neil Davison, associate professor of modern Jewish culture at Oregon State University.In Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint, Alexander Portnoy rails against his overbearing Jewish mother by becoming a deviant obsessed with shiksas and sex. ” Norman Mailer, too, struggled to throw off the curse of the Jewish weakling. In his 1968 book Armies of the Night, Mailer describes himself (also the protagonist) as a “radical intellectual, existential philosopher, hard-working author, champion of obscenity, husband of four battling sweet wives, amiable bar drinker, and much-exaggerated street fighter, party giver, hostess insulter.” And yet, in the end, he cannot escape “a fatal taint, a last remaining speck of the one personality he found absolutely insupportable—the nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn.” Perhaps Roth and Mailer need not have tried so hard.This became the basis for considering Jews degenerate, says Boyarin.“What was taken as a very positive way of being in the world gets transmuted into a nebbishy, ineffective—particularly sexually ineffective—character of someone like Woody Allen.” When Zionism gained momentum in the early 20th century, its founders sought to distance the new Israeli from the stereotype of the weak, effeminate Jew.Yet this “ideal Jewish male femme” was also the pinnacle of manliness, a sexual force to be reckoned with. Other cultures twisted the feminized edelkayt into something negative.An early anti-Semitic myth of medieval Europe was that Jewish men menstruated, perhaps as a result of their womanly excesses or dealings with the devil. In the 1890s, the Austrian-Jewish therapist put forth the idea of homosexuality as mental illness.The Yid has accepted submission and, therefore, the Hebrew ought to learn how to command…the Hebrew should look the world straight in the eye and declare: ‘I am a Hebrew!
One is Adam Cohen, creator of the Nice Jewish Guys calendar, which is graced not with buff athletes but with sweet, mama-loving boys like himself.“Our starting point is to take the typical Yid of today and to imagine his diametrical opposite,” wrote Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky.