Sex in the Shadow of Rome: Sexual Violence and Theological Lament in Talmudic Disaster Tales

Citation:

Belser, Julia Watts. 2014. “Sex in the Shadow of Rome: Sexual Violence and Theological Lament in Talmudic Disaster Tales.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 30 (1): 5–24.

Author: Julia Watts Belser

Abstract:

This article analyzes the representation of rape in three narratives from the Babylonian Talmud’s account of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and discusses the connection between sexual violence, enslavement, and colonial domination. These narratives mimic pervasive Roman symbolism of imperial dominance as a form of “sexual conquest,” using that symbolism to express rabbinic lament and violation at the hands of Rome. These stories express elements of rabbinic resistance to imperial domination, emphasizing Jewish resilience even in the midst of intense suffering. Yet the symbolic and theological significance afforded to rape in these narratives also reinscribes the vulnerability and invisibility of women and enslaved people in both rabbinic and Roman cultures. By using rape to conceptualize divine woundedness and rabbinic lament, these narratives privilege the theological significance of Roman violation over the brutal body cost of imperial conquest.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Religion, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Sexual Slavery, SV against women, Violence Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East

Year: 2014

© 2017 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.