Vol 33 No. 2 (2014)
Most early Mahāyāna sūtras glorify vīrya—vigor, or manliness —as the most desirable quality of a bodhisattva. But was this always the case? The purpose of this article is to argue that shifting notions of exemplar masculinity parallel the change from the early Mahāyāna, to mature developments of this Buddhist tradition. To prove my point, I will examine four influential early Mahāyāna sūtras: the Ugrapariprcchā, the Aṣṭasāhasrikā, the Śūraṅgamasamādhisūtra, and the Vimalakīrtinirdeśa, to argue that the bodhisattva-path discourse became gradually more assertive and authoritative. Buddha Śākyamuni’s image lost focus, while bodhisattvas’ attitude towards arhats evolved from respectful submission to open humiliation. By now the bodhisattva transformation was complete, an inglorious coup that marked the Mahāyāna take over.
This article examines differences between versions of an erotic Rabbinic narrative about rescuing a captive boy, who had been carried away from Romanoccupied Jerusalem and was enduring (or facing) sexual exploitation at the hands of Roman captors. A synoptic reading suggests a pattern of retroactive “touching up” of scandalous elements in early versions of the tale by the time it appears in early medieval manuscripts of the Babylonian Talmud. These changes soften the scandalous implications of a sophisticated Palestinian Jewish appropriation of an Ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman homoerotic narrative. The comparatively inelegant later version suggests efforts to deeroticize the plot, masculinize the captive, and lessen his degradation. Literary and archaeological evidence suggests that these changes might have been motivated by the fact that in earlier versions the captive was anonymous, whilst in later versions he is identified as a pillar of the talmudic tradition.
Catherine of Siena is famous as both a fasting female mystic and a key political figure in late medieval Italy. Scholarship on the saint, however, frequently separates the religious and political aspects of her life. This article argues that the two were inextricably intertwined. Through an examination of Catherine’s letters and her vita, written by her confessor, I argue that Catherine’s religious fasting enabled the creation of her public, political persona. Extreme ascetic malnutrition generally pushes the female body to cease menstruation, which we can speculate happened in Catherine’s case. Masculinized via her spiritual “use” of food and other discursive practices, Catherine assumed the (otherwise masculine) authority to intervene in political executions, exhort monarchs, and help end the Avignon papacy.
This article addresses two questions regarding the Christian men’s organization Promise Keepers Canada (PKC). First, why is it that despite Canada’s geographical and cultural proximity to the United States, the PKC has not followed the same historical trajectory and elicited similarly negative responses as its American counterpart? Second, is there something particular about Canadian experiences of masculinities that accounts for the differences? The article uses the concept of “culture wars” as one of the keys to explaining the differences in public reception. The article also demonstrates that PKC participates within a largely intersubjective tradition of masculine identity formation that is particular to Canada. While acknowledging that the discourse of relationality has resulted in a more interdependent or intersubjective notion of religious hegemonic masculinities in the Canadian context, the article also notes the limits of this discourse.
Bring Me Men Integrity: Religious Re-buttressing of Armed Masculinity at the United States Air Force Academy [+] 193-208
United States military policy on gays and lesbians “evolves” within an institutionally developed environment of religiously reified “sexual mythologies”; these sexual mythologies assert and exploit a determinative connectivity between anatomical sex categories and gender expression. For the past fifty years, the Air Force Academy’s detailed construction of sexual mythologies reveals an overwhelming institutional commitment to a complex foundational expression of heteronormative hypermasculinity. Within the last two decades however, the Academy’s mythological re-buttressing of these foundational illusions has encountered ever more “unsettling trouble.” This article explores the Academy’s use of conservative Christian religious rhetoric, and the mercantile tactics of evangelical Christian organizations to re-mythologize and re-stabilize the foundational hypermasculinity so essential to what Timothy Kaufman-Osborn regards as “the logic of masculinized militarism.”
Ilhan New, Soldier for the Modern Nation: Recovering a Protestant Martial Alternative to Korean Hegemonic Masculinity [+] 209-223
Twentieth century Korean hegemonic masculinity has validated the right to employ violence for the benefit of the nation unchecked by any higher ethical concerns. This arose in the early twentieth century in reaction to a crisis of Korean masculinity, identified by the first Korean nationalists. The supposed pernicious effects of Confucianism created the crisis by making men effete. This in turn “led” Korea to lose its independence. While scholars have recognized alternative Korean masculinities arising since the 1990s, including Catholic masculinities, they have overlooked a Protestant martial masculinity personified by Ilhan New [1895–1971]. New was a much lauded business pioneer, but his military career has not been analyzed in terms of its place in the history of masculinity. Mentored by a leading Protestant nationalist, New personified in mid-century an alternative Protestant martial masculinity, which created soldiers fighting for the nation under the discipline of a conventional military, bound by Protestant norms.
The work and impact of modern Western missions was as much shaped by secular cultural constructs as it was by the formal goal that missions impart faith and create converts in a transcultural setting. This article extends the gender analysis of mission work and community identity to the male mission adherent in the Kumaon Protestant Christian community in north India. The evidence examined is mission-generated letters, reports and published articles, and particular attention is paid to photographic images of mission workers. Men were additionally shaped by their place in a martial British system that sought both reliable recruits and settled communities, with the result that many men fought and lived outside their communities. The findings suggest that in order to examine the negotiation of an acceptably gendered Kumani-Christian identity it is necessary to look beyond mission sources to understand ways in which that confessional identity was at times supported by and challenged by worldly pressures of what constituted manliness.