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Women's Studies, Gender, and Sexuality > Gender Studies

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Fear and What Follows Cover

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Fear and What Follows

The Violent Education of a Christian Racist, A Memoir

Tim Parrish

Fear and What Follows is a riveting, unflinching account of the author's spiral into racist violence during the latter years of desegregation in 1960s and 1970s Baton Rouge. About the memoir, author and editor Michael Griffith writes, "This might be a controversial book, in the best way--controversial because it speaks to real and intractable problems and speaks to them with rare bluntness."

The narrative of Parrish's descent into fear and irrational behavior begins with bigotry and apocalyptic thinking in his Southern Baptist church. Living a life upon this volatile foundation of prejudice and apprehension, Parrish feels destabilized by his brother going to Vietnam, his own puberty and restlessness, serious family illness, and economic uncertainty. Then a near-fatal street fight and subsequent stalking by an older sociopath fracture what security is left, leaving him terrified and seemingly helpless.

Parrish comes to believe that he can only be safe by allying himself with brute force. This brute influence is a vicious, charismatic racist. Under this bigot's terrible sway Parrish, turns to violence in the street and at school. He is even conflicted about whether he will help commit murder in order to avenge a friend. At seventeen he must reckon with all of this as his parents and neighbors grow increasingly afraid that they are "losing" their neighborhood to African Americans. Fear and What Follows is an unparalleled story of the complex roots of southern, urban, working-class racism and white flight, as well as a story of family, love, and the possibility of redemption.

Female Adolescence in American Scientific Thought, 1830–1930 Cover

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Female Adolescence in American Scientific Thought, 1830–1930

Crista DeLuzio

In this groundbreaking study, Crista DeLuzio asks how scientific experts conceptualized female adolescence in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Revisiting figures like G. Stanley Hall and Margaret Mead and casting her net across the disciplines of biology, psychology, and anthropology, DeLuzio examines the process by which youthful femininity in America became a contested cultural category. Challenging accepted views that professionals "invented" adolescence during this period to understand the typical experiences of white middle-class boys, DeLuzio shows how early attempts to reconcile that conceptual category with "femininity" not only shaped the social science of young women but also forced child development experts and others to reconsider the idea of adolescence itself. DeLuzio’s provocative work permits a fuller understanding of how adolescence emerged as a "crisis" in female development and offers insight into why female adolescence remains a social and cultural preoccupation even today.

Fertility and Pleasure Cover

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Fertility and Pleasure

Ritual and Sexual Values in Tokugawa Japan

William R. Lindsey

As their ubiquitous presence in Tokugawa artwork and literature suggests, images of bourgeois wives and courtesans took on iconic status as representations of two opposing sets of female values. Their differences, both real and idealized, indicate the full range of female roles and sexual values affirmed by Tokugawa society, with Buddhist celibacy on the one end and the relatively free sexual associations of the urban and rural lower classes on the other. The roles of courtesan and bourgeois housewife were each tied to a set of value-based behaviors, the primary institution to which a woman belonged, and rituals that sought to model a woman’s comportment in her interactions with men and figures of authority. For housewives, it was fertility values, promulgated by lifestyle guides and moral texts, which embraced the ideals of female obedience, loyalty to the husband’s household, and sexual activity aimed at producing an heir. Pleasure values, by contrast, flourished in the prostitution quarters and embraced playful relations and nonreproductive sexual activity designed to increase the bordello’s bottom line. What William Lindsey reveals in this well-researched study is that, although the values that idealized the role of wife and courtesan were highly disparate, the rituals, symbols, and popular practices both engaged in exhibited a degree of similitude and parallelism. Fertility and Pleasure examines the rituals available to young women in the household and pleasure quarters that could be employed to affirm, transcend, or resist these sets of sexual values. In doing so it affords new views of Tokugawa society and Japanese religion. Highly original in its theoretical approach and its juxtaposition of texts, Fertility and Pleasure constitutes an important addition to the fields of Japanese religion and history and the study of gender and sexuality in other societies and cultures.

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The Flaming Womb

Repositioning Women in Early Modern Southeast Asia

Barbara Andaya

"The Princess of the Flaming Womb," the Javanese legend that introduces this pioneering study, symbolizes the many ambiguities attached to femaleness in Southeast Asian societies. Yet despite these ambiguities, the relatively egalitarian nature of male–female relations in Southeast Asia is central to arguments claiming a coherent identity for the region. This challenging work by senior scholar Barbara Watson Andaya considers such contradictions while offering a thought-provoking view of Southeast Asian history that focuses on women’s roles and perceptions. Andaya explores the broad themes of the early modern era (1500–1800)—the introduction of new religions, major economic shifts, changing patterns of state control, the impact of elite lifestyles and behaviors—drawing on an extraordinary range of sources and citing numerous examples from Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese, Philippine, and Malay societies. In the process, she provides a timely and innovative model for putting women back into world history. Andaya approaches the problematic issue of "Southeast Asia" by considering ways in which topography helped describe a geo-cultural zone and contributed to regional distinctiveness in gender construction. She examines the degree to which world religions have been instrumental in (re)constructing conceptions of gender— an issue especially pertinent to Southeast Asian societies because of the leading role so often played by women in indigenous ritual. She also considers the effects of the expansion of long-distance trade, the incorporation of the region into a global trading network, the beginnings of cash-cropping and wage labor, and the increase in slavery on the position of women. Erudite, nuanced, and accessible, The Flaming Womb makes a major contribution to a Southeast Asia history that is both regional and global in content and perspective.

Fleshing Out America Cover

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Fleshing Out America

Race, Gender, and the Politics of the Body in American Literature, 1833-1879

Carolyn Sorisio

Can we work through the imaginative space of literature to combat the divisive nature of the politics of the body? That is the central question asked of the writings Carolyn Sorisio investigates in Fleshing Out America. The first half of the nineteenth century ushered in an era of powerful scientific and quasi-scientific disciplines that assumed innate differences between the "types" of humankind. Some proponents of slavery and Indian Removal, as well as opponents of women's rights, supplanted the Declaration of Independence's higher law of inborn equality with a new set of "laws" proclaiming the physical inferiority of women, "Negroes," and "Aboriginals."

Fleshing Out America explores the representation of the body in the work of seven authors, all of whom were involved with their era's reform movements: Lydia Maria Child, Frances E. W. Harper, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Walt Whitman, Harriet Jacobs, and Martin R. Delany. For such American writers, who connected the individual body symbolically with the body politic, the new science was fraught with possibility and peril. Covering topics from representation, spectatorship, and essentialism to difference, power, and authority, Carolyn Sorisio places these writers' works in historical context and in relation to contemporary theories of corporeality. She shows how these authors struggled, in diverse and divergent ways, to flesh out America--to define, even defend, the nation's body in a tumultuous period.

Drawing on Euro- and African American authors of both genders who are notable for their aesthetic and political differences, Fleshing Out America demonstrates the surprisingly diverse literary conversation taking place as American authors attempted to reshape the politics of the body, which shaped the politics of the time.

The Flower and the Scorpion Cover

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The Flower and the Scorpion

Sexuality and Ritual in Early Nahua Culture

Pete Sigal

Prior to the Spanish conquest, the Nahua indigenous peoples of central Mexico did not have a notion of “sex” or “sexuality” equivalent to the sexual categories developed by colonial society or those promoted by modern Western peoples. In this innovative ethnohistory, Pete Sigal seeks to shed new light on Nahua concepts of the sexual without relying on the modern Western concept of sexuality. Along with clerical documents and other Spanish sources, he interprets the many texts produced by the Nahua. While colonial clerics worked to impose Catholic beliefs—particularly those equating sexuality and sin—on the indigenous people they encountered, the process of cultural assimilation was slower and less consistent than scholars have assumed. Sigal argues that modern researchers of sexuality have exaggerated the power of the Catholic sacrament of confession to change the ways that individuals understood themselves and their behaviors. At least until the mid-seventeenth century, when increased contact with the Spanish began to significantly change Nahua culture and society, indigenous peoples, particularly commoners, related their sexual lives and imaginations not just to concepts of sin and redemption but also to pleasure, seduction, and rituals of fertility and warfare.

For Business and Pleasure Cover

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For Business and Pleasure

Red-Light Districts and the Regulation of Vice in the United States, 1890–1933

Mara L. Keire

Mara L. Keire’s history of red-light districts in the United States offers readers a fascinating survey of the business of pleasure from the 1890s through the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Anti-vice reformers in the late nineteenth century accepted that complete eradication of disreputable pleasure was impossible. Seeking a way to regulate rather than eliminate prostitution, alcohol, drugs, and gambling, urban reformers confined sites of disreputable pleasure to red-light districts in cities throughout the United States. They dismissed the extremes of prohibitory law and instead sought to limit the impact of vice on city life through realistic restrictive measures. Keire’s thoughtful work examines the popular culture that developed within red-light districts, as well as efforts to contain vice in such cities as New Orleans; Hartford, Connecticut; New York City; Macon, Georgia; San Francisco; and El Paso, Texas. Keire describes the people and practices in red-light districts, reformers' efforts to limit their impact on city life, and the successful closure of the districts during World War I. Her study extends into Prohibition and discusses the various effects that scattering vice and banning alcohol had on commercial nightlife.

Framing Fat Cover

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Framing Fat

Competing Constructions in Contemporary Culture

Samantha Kwan

According to public health officials, obesity poses significant health risks and has become a modern-day epidemic. A closer look at this so-called epidemic, however, suggests that there are multiple perspectives on the fat body, not all of which view obesity as a health hazard.

Alongside public health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are advertisers of the fashion-beauty complex, food industry advocates at the Center for Consumer Freedom, and activists at the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.

Framing Fat
takes a bird’s-eye view of how these multiple actors construct the fat body by identifying the messages these groups put forth, particularly where issues of beauty, health, choice and responsibility, and social justice are concerned. Samantha Kwan and Jennifer Graves examine how laypersons respond to these conflicting messages and illustrate the gendered, raced, and classed implications within them. In doing so, they shed light on how dominant ideas about body fat have led to the moral indictment of body nonconformists, essentially “framing” them for their fat bodies.

From Ballroom to DanceSport Cover

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From Ballroom to DanceSport

Aesthetics, Athletics, and Body Culture

Drawing on recent media portrayals and her own experience, author and dancer Caroline Joan S. Picart explores ballroom dancing and its more “sporty” equivalent, DanceSport, suggesting that they are reflective of larger social, political, and cultural tensions. The past several years have seen a resurgence in the popularity of ballroom dance as well as an increasing international anxiety over how and whether to transform ballroom into an Olympic sport. Writing as a participant-critic, Picart suggests that both are crucial sites where bodies are packaged as racialized, sexualized, nationalized, and classed objects. In addition, Picart argues, as the choreography, costuming, and genre of ballroom and DanceSport continue to evolve, these theatrical productions are aestheticized and constructed to encourage commercial appeal, using the narrative frame of the competitive melodrama to heighten audience interest.

Galileo's Pendulum Cover

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Galileo's Pendulum

Science, Sexuality, and the Body-Instrument Link

Drawing on the theories of Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and others who have written on the history of sexuality and the body, Galileo’s Pendulum explores how the emergence of the scientific method in the seventeenth century led to a de-emphasis on the body and sexuality. The first half of the book focuses on the historical modeling of the relation between pleasure and knowledge by examining a history of scientific rationality and its relation to the formation of the modern scientist’s subjectivity. Relying on Foucault’s history of sexuality, the author hypothesizes that Galileo’s pendulum, as an extension of mathematics and the body, must have been sexualized by schemes of historical representation to the same extent that such schemes were rationalized by Galileo. The second half of the book explores the problems of scientific methodology and attempts to return the body in an explicit way to scientific practice. Ultimately, Galileo’s Pendulum offers a discursive method and praxis for resexualizing the history of Galilean science.

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