NWSA Journal

NWSA Journal
Volume 18, Number 2, Summer 2006

CONTENTS

Articles

    Gonick, Marnina.
  • Between "Girl Power" and "Reviving Ophelia": Constituting the Neoliberal Girl Subject
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Teenage girls -- United States -- Attitudes -- History -- 20th century.
    • Femininity -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
    • Self-esteem in adolescence -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
    • Popular culture -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
    Abstract:
      This article investigates two of the discourses currently organizing meanings of girls and girlhood. These are the multi-stranded "Girl Power" and "Reviving Ophelia," which both emerged in the early 1990s. I argue that "Girl Power" and "Reviving Ophelia" set up an intriguing illustration of not only competing definitions of femininity but also how discourses may interpellate feminine/feminist subjects in a non-unitary way. At first glance, the two discourses seem to offer opposing significations of femininity. On the one hand, "Girl Power" represents a "new girl," assertive, dynamic, and unbound from the constraints of femininity. On the other hand,"Reviving Ophelia" presents girls as vulnerable, passive, voiceless, and fragile. However, this article demonstrates that it is also possible to view the two discourses as other than opposing, competing, and contradictory. Rather, this article investigates how the two discourses position girls in varying ways in relation to the emerging configurations of subjectification demanded by shifting relations of production, globalizing economies, and redefined relationships between governments and citizens related to the rise of neoliberal policy and practice.
    Keywords:
      girls / discourse analysis / popular culture / femininity / subjectivity
    Patton, Tracey Owens.
  • Hey Girl, Am I More than My Hair?: African American Women and Their Struggles with Beauty, Body Image, and Hair
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • African American women -- History -- 20th century.
    • Beauty, Personal -- Social aspects -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
    • Hairstyles -- Social aspects -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
    • Body image in women -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
    • Race awareness -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
    Abstract:
      Using Afrocentric theory and standpoint theory, this article examines the effect of the White standard of beauty upon African American women. By shedding light on the salience of the effects of beauty, body image, and hair, this article questions societal definitions of beauty. Adherence to the Euro American beauty standard has had, and continues to have, devastating effects upon African American women. In addition, this standard pits African American women against the dominant cultural standard of beauty. A call to challenge the hegemonic White standard of beauty through Black beauty liberation is offered.
    Keywords:
      Afrocentric theory / Black beauty / Black beauty liberation / body image / hair / racism / standpoint theory / White beauty
    Zaytoun, Kelli.
  • Theorizing at the Borders: Considering Social Location in Rethinking Self and Psychological Development
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Developmental psychology -- United States.
    • Feminist psychology -- United States.
    • Self-perception -- Social aspects -- United States.
    Abstract:
      This essay provides a framework for reconceptualizing and expanding perspectives on adult psychological development through the use of feminist standpoint theory. Considering the role of social location and identity in how "self" and development are understood yielded new visions that respond to and address the limitations of traditional and current approaches. Perspectives explored within this framework resulted in implications for developmental theory, including reconsideration of definitions of self-concept and self-in-relationship and new possibilities for understanding the connection between self-concept and social consciousness and activism. Since cultural influence determines the potentials and boundaries for how a person perceives themselves in relationship to their surroundings, standpoint theory is a useful tool for exploring how sense of self and psychological growth are constructed within particular and transitioning social locations. Possibilities for exploring how self-concept is intimately linked to the degree of one's sense of social consciousness also are discussed.
    Keywords:
      feminist developmental psychology / self-in-relationship / standpoint theory / self-concept / social consciousness
    Kampwirth, Karen, 1964-
  • Resisting the Feminist Threat: Antifeminist Politics in Post-Sandinista Nicaragua
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Anti-feminism -- Political aspects -- Nicaragua -- History -- 20th century.
    • Nicaragua -- History -- Revolution, 1979 -- Participation, Female.
    • Feminism -- Moral and ethical aspects -- Nicaragua -- History -- 20th century.
    • Women's rights -- Nicaragua -- History -- 20th century.
    Abstract:
      In this article I note that one important result of the last several decades of social upheaval in Nicaragua has been the emergence of active feminist and antifeminist movements. Since there has been significant analysis of feminist organizing, and very little on antifeminist organizing, the focus of this paper is antifeminism. I argue that the emergence of this backlash movement can be explained in terms of both domestic and global politics. From a domestic perspective, the movement can be seen as a reaction against the Sandinista revolution and its aftermath. From a global perspective, it is a response to what antifeminists see as the challenges of globalization such as feminist successes in international development agencies and the loss of sovereignty due to neoliberalism. It is also a response to the opportunities provided by globalization such as the emergence of a global antifeminist movement with strong links to like-minded organizations in other countries. This article analyzes the historical roots of the movement and then considers the worldviews of the participants in the movement.
    Keywords:
      feminism / antifeminism / gender / Nicaragua / social movements / politics / Latin America
    Sekhon, Joti.
  • Engendering Grassroots Democracy: Research, Training, and Networking for Women in Local Self-Governance in India
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Women and democracy -- India.
    • Women in politics -- India.
    • Local elections -- India.
    • Democratization -- India.
    Abstract:
      The author discusses efforts to promote women's effective participation in electoral politics in rural India as an illustration of feminist politics and participatory democracy. She argues that feminist rethinking of politics and democracy can catalyze women's effective participation and challenge the structures of patriarchy that limit political action and social mobility. The opportunity for women's widespread participation in local elections came as a result of the 73rd Amendment to the Indian Constitution in 1993, reserving 33 percent of elected seats in village councils for female candidates. That alone, however, is not enough, as women are limited by a variety of social, cultural, economic, and political factors, such as traditional gendered expectations of the role and position of women in the family and community, caste and class inequalities, lack of education, and lack of knowledge of the laws. In this article, the author analyzes the role of social movement organizations engaged in participatory action research, training, advocacy, and networking with and for women at the grassroots level. Detailed exposition of the work of Aalochana, a feminist organization in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, provides insight into the possibilities and challenges of feminist politics to engender grassroots democracy.
    Keywords:
      feminist politics / grassroots democracy / participatory democracy / women in politics / women's community-based activism / women and political participation in India / women in panchayati raj or local self-governance in India / feminist networks / gender and grassroots politics
    Alston, Margaret.
  • Gender Mainstreaming in Practice: A View from Rural Australia
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Rural women -- Government policy -- Australia -- History -- 20th century.
    • Women's rights -- Australia -- History -- 20th century.
    • Rural women -- Australia -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
    Abstract:
      This article focuses on gender mainstreaming in practice using the example of agriculture departments in Australia. Gender mainstreaming is a policy initiative adopted internationally following the Beijing women's conference in 1995 to address gender inequality. The move represents a policy shift from a focus solely addressing women's disadvantage to a broader attention to gender inequality. This article provides an historical overview of the move toward gender mainstreaming in the international environment, as well as a theoretical critique. Using the Australian case example, the shift of attention from rural women to gender mainstreaming in Australian agricultural departments appears to be taking place with little understanding of the concept of gender mainstreaming or its goals. It is further argued that recent moves by government departments of agriculture toward gender mainstreaming may have disadvantaged women. This article argues that, while in theory mainstreaming is a more successful way of addressing gender inequality, in practice it risks reducing attention to women unless changes occur in departmental cultures and gender mainstreaming accountability measures are introduced at international and national levels.
    Keywords:
      gender mainstreaming / rural women / Australia / policy
    Ferguson, S. Alease.
    King, Toni C.
  • Taking Up Our Elders' Burdens as Our Own: African American Women against Elder Financial Fraud
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Commercial crimes -- United States.
    • Older African Americans -- Crimes against.
    • Older African Americans -- Services for.
    Abstract:
      The following article reports the preliminary research findings of a phenomenological assessment of the experiences of African American women ages 35 to 64, providing individual and collective advocacy supports for elder family members besieged by the contemporary forms of economic terrorism that include community redlining, predatory lending, financial fraud, housing piracy, and home foreclosure. The impetus and precedents for the actions of our African American women clients who have experienced economic terrorism are discussed through the lenses of African American womanist leadership theory, black feminist thought, and adult development theory. This mid-life generation saga traverses the underworld of institutionalized legal and financial discrimination aimed at disabling personal agency and obstructing the restoration of these African American women's elder family members' financial credit, home equity, and home sites. Provided is a discussion of: (1) the macro and micro implications of predatory lending and financial discrimination in the context of patriarchy; (2) the issues of co-victimization for the African American women serving as elder advocates; (3) the process of regaining voice and reclaiming purpose; and (4) the actualizing phases of leadership as evidenced by sustained social action.
    Keywords:
      African American women / mental health / activism / housing / adult development / social justice
    Kennelly, Ivy.
  • Secretarial Work, Nurturing, and the Ethic of Service
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Secretaries -- United States -- Attitudes.
    • Occupations -- Moral and ethical aspects -- United States.
    Abstract:
      Women who enjoy nurturing and serving others are often assumed to either be fulfilling their "natural" calling or to be stuck in an outdated and limiting gender role. Both interpretations ignore the social aspects of these activities. In this study, based on my interviews with 49 secretaries, I first highlight a small group of women who enjoy donning the characteristics of motherhood at their jobs. I analyze their approach to work not as an example of their gendered essence but as a reasonable response to the social experiences of their lives. I then focus on an approach to work that may seem like nurturing but goes even beyond that; I call this the ethic of service. The secretaries in this group speak similarly about the ways their occupations allow them to fulfill their desire to serve humanity. The character of these women's convictions about service incorporates the feeling that they are "on this earth for a purpose," and that the purpose is to "do good" in some way, which they have been able to translate into tasks of public service in their occupations. I explore the structures of opportunities and constraints under which women working as secretaries enact the activities of nurturing and public service in their jobs.
    Keywords:
      public service / nurturing / secretaries
    Crawford, Norlisha.
  • Good, Bad, and Beautiful: Chester Himes's Femmes in Harlem
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Himes, Chester B., 1909-1984. Jealous man can't win.
    • African American women in literature.
    • Harlem (New York, N.Y.) -- In literature.
    Abstract:
      In his hard-boiled detective fiction series set in Harlem, Chester Himes created a wide variety of recurring African American female character types. In this essay, I focus on The Crazy Kill (1959/1989), assessing the extremely ambitious, sexually alluring, scheming, and manipulative outlaw female characters. Himes's novels suggest that viewing these female characters as merely immoral or unethical is too simplistic. Context, history, traditions, political, and socioeconomic imperatives count. However, because of genre expectations established for more than 100 years, an assertive female character may be overly determined as merely a femme fatale. Also, because of traditions established depicting African American female characters as wanton, overly sexualized beings, the expectation that a racialized female character is morally objectionable is rooted more in racism than in evidence of the character's conduct. I suggest Himes challenges traditional expectations established by the genre for female characters as well as time-honored popular culture depictions of racialized characters, by offering an affirming critical read of his ambitious Harlem female characters.
    Keywords:
      hard-boiled detective fiction / female representation / grotesque bodies / female criminality / literary images of female bodies / femme fatale / urban landscapes

Book Reviews

    Hamington, Maurice.
  • Not for Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography, and: The Politics of Prostitution: Women's Movements, Democratic States and the Globalisation of Sex Commerce, and: What's Love Got to Do with It?: Transnational Desires and Sex Tourism in the Dominican Republic (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Whisnant, Rebecca, ed. Not for sale: feminists resisting prostitution and pornography.
    • Stark, Christine, ed.
    • Outshoorn, Joyce, ed. Politics of prostitution: women's movements, democratic states, and the globalisation of sex commerce.
    • Brennan, Denise, 1964- What's love got to do with it?: transnational desires and sex tourism in the Dominican Republic.
    • Prostitution -- Government policy.
    • Pornography -- Social aspects.
    Ropers-Huilman, Becky.
  • Contradictions in Women's Education: Traditionalism, Careerism, and Community at a Single-Sex College, and: Reclaiming Class: Women, Poverty, and the Promise of Higher Education in America (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Bank, Barbara J. Contradictions in women's education: traditionalism, careerism, and community at a single-sex college.
    • Yelon, Harriet M.
    • Adair, Vivyan Campbell, ed. Reclaiming class: women, poverty, and the promise of higher education in America.
    • Dahlberg, Sandra L., 1958-, ed.
    • Women's colleges -- United States -- Case studies.
    • Poor women -- United States.
    Sayers, Janet.
  • Matricide in Language: Writing Theory in Kristeva and Woolf (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Nikolchina, Miglena. Matricide in language: writing theory in Kristeva and Woolf.
    • Kristeva, Julia, 1941- -- Criticism and interpretation.
    Jankowiak, William R.
  • Romance on a Global Stage: Pen Pals, Virtual Ethnography, and "Mail-Order" Marriages (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Constable, Nicole. Romance on a global stage: pen pals, virtual ethnography, and "mail-order" marriages.
    • Intercountry marriage -- United States.
    Weiler, Kathleen.
  • The Education of Jane Addams, and: Diva Julia: The Public Romance and Private Agony of Julia Ward Howe, and: Alice Hamilton: A Life in Letters (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Brown, Victoria (Victoria Bissell) Education of Jane Addams.
    • Ziegler, Valarie H., 1954- Diva Julia: the public romance and private agony of Julia Ward Howe.
    • Sicherman, Barbara. Alice Hamilton: a life in letters.
    • Addams, Jane, 1860-1935.
    • Howe, Julia Ward, 1819-1910.
    Press, Andrea Lee.
  • The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined Women (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Douglas, Susan J. (Susan Jeanne), 1950- Mommy myth: the idealization of motherhood and how it has undermined women.
    • Michaels, Meredith W.
    • Motherhood -- United States.
    Crowley, Kimberly.
  • Writing Out of Place: Regionalism, Women, and American Literary Culture (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Fetterley, Judith, 1938- Writing out of place: regionalism, women, and American literary culture.
    • Pryse, Marjorie, 1948-
    • American literature -- Women authors -- History and criticism.
    Fredrick, Terri A.
  • Sex and the Slayer: A Gender Studies Primer for the Buffy Fan (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Jowett, Lorna, 1971- Sex and the slayer: a gender studies primer for the Buffy fan.
    • Buffy, the vampire slayer (Television program)
    Graham, Margaret Ann Baker.
  • Women and Children First: Feminism, Rhetoric, and Public Policy, and: Survivor Rhetoric: Negotiations and Narrativity in Abused Women's Language (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Meagher, Sharon M., ed. Women and children first: feminism, rhetoric, and public policy.
    • DiQuinzio, Patrice, 1955-, ed.
    • Winkelmann, Carol Lea, ed. Survivor rhetoric: negotiations and narrativity in abused women's language.
    • Shearer-Cremean, Christine, ed.
    • Feminist theory.
    • Abused women -- Language.
    Broadbent, Kaye, 1961-
  • Divorce in Japan: Family, Gender, and the State 1600-2000, and: Gender and Human Rights Politics in Japan (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Fuess, Harald. Divorce in Japan: family, gender, and the state, 1600-2000.
    • Chan-Tiberghien, Jennifer. Gender and human rights politics in Japan: global norms and domestic networks.
    • Divorce -- Japan -- History.
    • Women's rights -- Japan.
    Bona, Mary Jo.
  • HeartBreakers: Women and Violence in Contemporary Culture and Literature (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Hendin, Josephine. Heartbreakers: women and violence in contemporary culture and literature.
    • Violence in women.



[Project MUSE] [Search Page] [Journals] [Journal Directory] [Top]