Monday, November 3, 2008

Subverting & Reappropriating vs. Sexism

"This one definitely fits into the 'steamy underbelly' category of Biblical literature, which most English translations bowdlerize into sanitized scripture, so use your own judgment on what you’re comfortable with," warns ElShaddai Edwards in his post pointed to a post by N.T. Wrong.

Wrong's judgement is right, as he gets us recognizing the sexism of Hamlet and of Hosea. Shakespeare (or whoever he/ she is) is the one subverting and reappropriating English words by punning in "Hamlet." And Alice A. Keefe, by punning in translation, is subverting and reappropriating English and Hebrew words in the book of Hosea. Wrong gives Shakespeare's pun, Keefe's translating, and his own reworking of the Hebrew/ English for more on all of that.

It's a dirty, sexist word (or two or three) that Wrong is using, is playing with. This goes beyond our comfort level. It gets right to the issues of sexism (or as "right to" as indirect social commentary has to be). What you're comfortable with depends on how sexist you are, I'm afraid. What you're willing to deal with depends on how feminist you are willing to be. (With comments at Wrong's blog, I try to show how the first translators of the bible weren't so comfortable with the erotic language of rape. Some time back I posted on how uncomfortable these Jewish male translators were with Greek male sexism, unless they could blame it on the woman).

Let me end this post with what Ann Friedman said to end one of her posts at a while ago. She said:
I roll my eyes at this campaign [by a library that uses a sexist logo of a woman], but sport a tote bag with the Feministing logo [that's nearly the same]. It's why I rail against people who call powerful women "bitch," but subscribe to a magazine of the same name. It's why I am totally appalled to hear someone utter the word "cunt" as an epithet, but picked up Inga Muscio's book. The same image (or word) in different contexts can flip pretty quickly from subversion/reappropriation to just flat-out sexism.

No comments: