The Nice Jewish boy is a stereotype of Jewish masculinity which circulates within the American Jewish community, as well as in mainstream American culture which has been influenced by the Jewish minority. In the Jewish Journal there is an article describing a young boys Barmitzfa in ‘Today I Am a Man’, by Rabbi Ed Feinstein. He goes on to speak about how ‘Today I am a man. But what do you know about being a man? A Jewish man?’. Strong men as the judge Samson, blessed with his superhuman strength, with aggressive and impulsive behavior and lustful attraction is not what Jewish men are personified in American culture. It is a lingering stereotype that has undoubtedly been satisfied by Jewish men as a ‘weak’ minority. These unanswered questions about Jewish men are only becoming more prominent and involved in society because of the supposed need of Jewish men to deny, excuse and explain themselves and their stereotype.
Harry Brod in Redeeming Men, Religion and Masculinities in Chapter 11 focuses on the ideas of power and powerlessness in relation to its stereotype. At points it is hard to see his arguments as valid and not as a defense against the stereotype, but it makes the piece all the more interesting. He explains the arise of many classic, American comic book characters that were created by Jewish men. Surprising, these strapping characters with their defined jaw-lines and endless courage to defend our country and its people, look nothing like an average Jewish man and perhaps is seen as though they were compensating for something that they themselves lack. It is hard to imagine Superman and Batman as Jewish because of their appearance and their unquestionable courage.
What I found to be the most interesting through Brod’s thoughts was this idea of alter egos and classic evil Jewish characters. Both Superman and Batman were meek, ‘nobodies’ by day and superheroes by night. Both unwilling to reveal their superhero identities refusing the option of...
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