“How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?”

9780231172752In “How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?”: Women and Jewish American Identity in
Contemporary Graphic Memoirs
, Tahneer Oksman gives us a tour through stereotypes and their confrontations. 


In her 1989 comic, “Nose Job,” Aline Kominsky Crumb describes a “disturbing epidemic” that took place in 1962 in the mostly Jewish Long Island community of her youth. Through her alter ego, The Bunch, she narrates her experience of watching all of her female peers as they showed up to high school with “new noses.” Despite pressure from family and friends, The Bunch refuses this rite of passage and finds herself, years later, boasting, “So I managed to make it thru high school with my nose!!” The Bunch’s reluctance to conform within her actively assimilating Jewish community paradoxically sets her apart; she becomes an outsider because of her refusal to erase the bodily traces of that identity. 


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…Some have referred to her work as “sexist and anti-Semitic”…because she does not simply reject such bodily and behavioral codings in favor of more politically correct or antitypological portrayals of Jewish women. Instead, her comics reflect how, as Sander Gilman so aptly sums it up, “there is no hiding from the fact of a constructed difference.”