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date: 26 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the relationship between language and sexual politics. It focuses on the ways language is used to police membership in different gendered and sexual groups, to construct self and others along gendered and sexual lines, and to negotiate belonging in different communities and institutions. The first half of the chapter summarizes prominent research in this area. Topics covered include struggles over labeling practices, discursive constructions of sexual authenticities, and the role of language and sexuality in the creation and reproduction of national ideologies. The second half turns to a detailed case study of language and sexual politics among lesbians in Israel. The chapter describes how the women in question use particular linguistic practices, such as variation in Hebrew gender morphology, to construct distinct sexual selves, and, in the process, challenge prevailing sexual norms in Israel. The discussion also highlights future directions for language and sexuality research, focusing on the importance of an adequate theory of power.

Keywords: belonging, gender morphology, Hebrew, lesbians, Israel, labeling practices, national ideologies, power, sexual authenticities, sexual politics

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