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Queer ExcursionsRetheorizing Binaries in Language, Gender, and Sexuality$
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Lal Zimman, Jenny Davis, and Joshua Raclaw

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199937295

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199937295.001.0001

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“Speech Creates a Kind of Commitment”

“Speech Creates a Kind of Commitment”

Queering Hebrew1

(p.35) 3 “Speech Creates a Kind of Commitment”
Queer Excursions

Orit Bershtling

Oxford University Press

Hebrew abounds with grammatical configurations that prevent interlocutors from overlooking each other’s gender. Therefore, it might cast genderqueer individuals out of its midst. Yet, after analyzing the interpretations of six genderqueer interviewees, their ambiguity toward Hebrew’s binary structure is salient and inclusive. I argue that alongside the limits of a language shaped by a restrictive system of gender, the same linguistic rules can help genderqueer individuals to accomplish their identity. Namely, Hebrew’s clear discernment between the sexes can be liberating—despite the fact that Hebrew does not include genderqueer identities in the realm of its morphology, it serves as an arena for various subversive practices and performances of identity. As such, it constitutes a significant tool for structuring bodies and identities that are opposed to social perceptions, while sex ceases to serve as a ‘natural’ reflection of gender.

Keywords:   Hebrew, genderqueer, identity, binary structure

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