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Women's Studies, Gender, and Sexuality > Gender Studies
Women, Sexuality, and Everyday Life
Twenty-five years after the start of the feminist sex wars, pornography remains a flashpoint issue, with feminists locked in a familiar argument: Are women victims or agents? In At Home with Pornography, Jane Juffer exposes the fruitlessness of this debate and suggests that it has prevented us from realizing women's changing relationship to erotica and porn.
Over the course of these same twenty-five years, there has been a proliferation of sexually explicit materials geared toward women, made available in increasingly mainstream venues. In asking "what is the relationship of women to pornography?" Juffer maintains that we need to stop obsessing over pornography's transgressive aspects, and start focusing on the place of porn and erotica in women's everyday lives. Where, she asks, do women routinely find it, for how much, and how is it circulated and consumed within the home? How is this circulation and consumption shaped by the different marketing categories that attempt to distinguish erotica from porn, such as women's literary erotica and sexual self-help videos for couples?
At Home with Pornography responds to these questions by viewing women's erotica within the context of governmental regulation that attempts to counterpose a "dangerous" pornography with the sanctity of the home. Juffer explorers how women's consumption of erotica and porn for their own pleasure can be empowering, while still acting to reinforce conservative ideals. She shows how, for instance, the Victoria's Secret catalog is able to function as a kind of pornography whose circulation is facilitated both by its reliance on Victorian themes of secrecy and privacy and on its appeals to the selfish pleasures of modern career women. In her pursuit to understand what women like and how they get it, Juffer delves into adult cable channels, erotic literary anthologies, sex therapy guides, cyberporn, masturbation, and sex toys, showing the varying degrees to which these materials have been domesticated for home consumption.
Representing the next generation of scholarship on pornography, At Home with Pornography will transform our understanding of women's everyday sexuality.
Engaging the Ideas of Arlie Hochschild
At the Heart of Work and Family presents original research on work and family by scholars who engage and build on the conceptual framework developed by well-known sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild. The common thread in these essays covering the gender division of housework, childcare networks, families in the global economy, and children of consumers is the incorporation of emotion, feelings, and meaning into the study of working families. These examinations connect micro-level interaction to larger social and economic forces and illustrate the continued relevance of linking economic relations to emotional ones for understanding contemporary work-family life.
The Prison as Gendered Organization
When most people think of prisons, they imagine chaos, violence, and fundamentally, an atmosphere of overwhelming brute masculinity. But real prisons rarely fit the “Big House” stereotype of popular film and literature. One fifth of all correctional officers are women, and the rate at which women are imprisoned is growing faster than that of men. Yet, despite increasing numbers of women prisoners and officers, ideas about prison life and prison work are sill dominated by an exaggerated image of men’s prisons where inmates supposedly struggle for physical dominance.
In a rare comparative analysis of men’s and women’s prisons, Dana Britton identifies the factors that influence the gendering of the American workplace, a process that often leaves women in lower-paying jobs with less prestige and responsibility.
In interviews with dozens of male and female officers in five prisons, Britton explains how gender shapes their day-to-day work experiences. Combining criminology, penology, and feminist theory, she offers a radical new argument for the persistence of gender inequality in prisons and other organizations. At Work in the Iron Cage demonstrates the importance of the prison as a site of gender relations as well as social control.
From Refrigerator Mothers to Computer Geeks
The reasons behind the increase in autism diagnoses have become hotly contested in the media as well as within the medical, scholarly, and autistic communities. Jordynn Jack suggests the proliferating number of discussions point to autism as a rhetorical phenomenon that engenders attempts to persuade through arguments, appeals to emotions, and representational strategies. In Autism and Gender: From Refrigerator Mothers to Computer Geeks, Jack focuses on the ways gender influences popular discussion and understanding of autism's causes and effects. She identifies gendered theories like the refrigerator mother theory, for example, which blames emotionally distant mothers for autism, and the extreme male brain theory, which links autism to the modes of systematic thinking found in male computer geeks. Jack's analysis reveals how people employ such highly gendered theories to craft rhetorical narratives around stock characters--fix-it dads, heroic mother warriors rescuing children from autism--that advocate for ends beyond the story itself while also allowing the storyteller to gain authority, understand the disorder, and take part in debates.Autism and Gender reveals the ways we build narratives around controversial topics while offering new insights into the ways rhetorical inquiry can and does contribute to conversations about gender and disability.
Bisexuality in Contemporary Film and Television
Often disguised in public discourse by terms like "gay," "homoerotic," "homosocial," or "queer," bisexuality is strangely absent from queer studies and virtually untreated in film and media criticism. Maria San Filippo aims to explore the central role bisexuality plays in contemporary screen culture, establishing its importance in representation, marketing, and spectatorship. By examining a variety of media genres including art cinema, sexploitation cinema and vampire films, "bromances," and series television, San Filippo discovers "missed moments" where bisexual readings of these texts reveal a more malleable notion of subjectivity and eroticism. San Filippo's work moves beyond the subject of heteronormativity and responds to "compulsory monosexuality," where it's not necessarily a couple's gender that is at issue, but rather that an individual chooses one or the other. The B Word transcends dominant relational formation (gay, straight, or otherwise) and brings a discursive voice to the field of queer and film studies.
Gay Rights Activism through the Media
Over the past decade, the controversial issue of gay marriage has emerged as a primary battle in the culture wars and a definitive social issue of our time. The subject moved to the forefront of mainstream public debate in 2004, when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom began authorizing same-sex marriage licenses, and it has remained in the forefront through three presidential campaigns and numerous state ballot initiatives. In this thorough analysis, Leigh Moscowitz examines how prominent news outlets presented this issue from 2003 to 2012, a time when intense news coverage focused unprecedented attention on gay and lesbian life.
Written by a leading activist in the transgender movement, Becoming a Visible Man is an artful and compelling inquiry into the politics of gender. Jamison Green combines candid autobiography with informed analysis to offer unique insight into the multiple challenges of the female-to-male transsexual experience, ranging from encounters with prejudice and strained relationships with family to the development of an FTM community and the realities of surgical sex reassignment. For more than a decade, Green has provided educational programs on gender-variance issues for corporations, law-enforcement agencies, social-science conferences and classes, continuing legal education, religious education, and medical venues. His comprehensive knowledge of the processes and problems encountered by transgendered and transsexual people—as well as his legal advocacy work to help ensure that gender-variant people have access to the same rights and opportunities as others—enable him to explain the issues as no transsexual author has previously done. Brimming with frank and often poignant recollections of Green’s own experiences—including his childhood struggles with identity and his years as a lesbian parent prior to his sex-reassignment surgery—the book examines transsexualism as a human condition, and sex reassignment as one of the choices that some people feel compelled to make in order to manage their gender variance. Relating the FTM psyche and experience to the social and political forces at work in American society, Becoming a Visible Man also speaks consciously of universal principles that concern us all, particularly the need to live one’s life honestly, openly, and passionately.
Stories of Violent Men
In this groundbreaking work, Lois Presser investigates the life stories of men who have perpetrated violence. She applies insights from across the academy to in-depth interviews with men who shared their accounts of how they became the people we most fear--those who rape, murder, assault, and rob, often repeatedly. Been a Heavy Life provides the discipline of criminology with two crucial frameworks: one for critically evaluating the construction of offenders own stories, and one for grasping the cultural meta-narratives that legitimize violence. For social scientists generally, this book offers a vivid demonstration of just how dynamic and contingent self-narratives are.
Gender Hybridity in a Zapotec Community
After seeing a video of a muxe vela, or festival, sociologist Alfredo Mirandé was intrigued by the contradiction between Mexico’s patriarchal reputation and its warm acceptance of los muxes. Seeking to get past traditional Mexican masculinity, he presents us with Behind the Mask, which combines historical analysis, ethnographic field research, and interviews conducted with los muxes of Juchitán over a period of seven years. Mirandé observed community events, attended muxe velas, and interviewed both muxes and other Juchitán residents. Prefaced by an overview of the study methods and sample, the book challenges the ideology of a male-dominated Mexican society driven by the cult of machismo, featuring photos alongside four appendixes.
Delving into many aspects of their lives and culture, the author discusses how the muxes are perceived by others, how the muxes perceive themselves, and the acceptance of a third gender status among various North American indigenous groups. Mirandé compares traditional Mexicano/Latino conceptions of gender and sexuality to modern or Western object choice configurations. He concludes by proposing a new hybrid model for rethinking these seemingly contradictory and conflicting gender systems.
Southern Women Writers and Social Rebellion
In the South, one notion of “being ugly” implies inappropriate or coarse behavior that transgresses social norms of courtesy. While popular stereotypes of the region often highlight southern belles as the epitome of feminine power, women writers from the South frequently stray from this convention and invest their fiction with female protagonists described as ugly or chastised for behaving that way. Through this divergence, “ugly” can be a force for challenging the strictures of normative southern gender roles and marriage economies. In Being Ugly: Southern Women Writers and Social Rebellion, Monica Carol Miller reveals how authors from Margaret Mitchell to Monique Truong employ “ugly” characters to upend the expectations of patriarchy and open up more possibilities for southern female identity.
Previous scholarship often conflates ugliness with such categories as the grotesque, plain, or abject, but Miller disassociates these negative descriptors from a group of characters created by southern women writers. Focusing on how such characters appear prone to rebellious and socially inappropriate behavior, Miller argues that ugliness subverts assumptions about gender by identifying those who are unsuitable for the expected roles of marriage and motherhood. As opposed to familiar courtship and marriage plots, Miller locates in fiction by southern women writers an alternative genealogy, the ugly plot. This narrative tradition highlights female characters whose rebellion offers a space for re-imagining alternative lives and households in opposition to the status quo.
Reading works by canonical writers like Zora Neale Hurston, Flannery O’Connor, and Eudora Welty, along with recent texts by contemporary authors like Helen Ellis, Lee Smith, and Jesmyn Ward, Being Ugly offers an important new perspective on how southern women writers confront regressive ideologies that insist upon limited roles for women.