Gina Konstantopoulos deposited My Men Have Become Women, and My Women Men: Gender, Identity, and Cursing in Mesopotamia on Humanities Commons 2 years, 2 months ago
The following essay considers the ways in which masculinity and femininity can be seen as potentially fluid, rather than rigid, categories in the ancient Near East, and furthermore understood as part of shifting nexus of power and agency – or lack thereof. Specifically gendered insults exploited the fluidity of these categories by focusing in particular on the forced emasculation and feminization of men in the ancient Near East, and these insults were often used as binding threats in treaty texts. Such punishments, as they invariably were, had close associations with the goddess Ištar, who was often responsible for acting as the agent of such enforced change. While the majority of these situations moved one from a position of greater to lesser agency and power (and thus from the masculine to feminine category), the opposite was possible in the ancient Near East. In limited and specific circumstances, women could also gain, in part, some of the agency that was normally reserved for men, a status that could be reflected in the ways in which they were indicated and referred to in texts.