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Reviewed by:
  • Doing Gender Diversity: Readings in Theory and Real-World Experience ed. by Rebecca F. Plante and Lis M. Maurer
  • Laura Gillman (bio)
Plante, Rebecca F., and Lis M. Maurer, eds. Doing Gender Diversity: Readings in Theory and Real-World Experience. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2009. 555 pp.

In the preface to their anthology, Plante and Maurer promise to deliver not just another reader on gender, but also a unique perspective on the subject that takes into account the current juncture in scholarship on gender. For instance, they work against the grain of what they refer to as texts that separate the study of gender from that of sexuality, effectively reproducing sexual marginalization by putting “freaks on parade” (xi). These editors instead include essays that reflect the entire continuum of gender and sexuality, showing the whole range of hegemonic performances of sex-gender identities and roles as well as the transgression and contestation of them. In prioritizing the continuum of gender and sexuality, they are able to also help produce a vision of gender as diverse. Another stated aim of the editors is to foreground an understanding of gender not as a fossilized social role embedded within a variety of institutions, but rather as a social practice. The readings analyze gender as practice within the micro and macro levels of society, while showing how hegemonic and subversive gender practices intersect at these levels. They also highlight how gender practices intersect with class and race ideologies. A final aim is to offer a critical perspective on gendered processes. By organizing the reader around the relation between sex and gender, the intersection of gender with the social categories of race and class, and the concept of gender as an interdynamic process, students will undoubtedly be encouraged to take a more critical stance towards gendered processes and see how their own lives are implicated within them.

The book is organized into three sections. Each section contains two or three chapters that provide an overview and a critical approach to the overarching themes of the chapter. Each chapter contains six to eight readings that nuance the particular approach of the chapter. Each chapter ends with five or six study questions. There are forty-eight readings in total, which would allow instructors to assign a little over two readings a week per semester. The readings are comprised [End Page 158] of excerpts from canonical and/or well-known pieces on the topic. The first chapters of each section flesh out the critical issue under scrutiny, and the remaining chapters serve as critical readings that illuminate the problems in everyday life. The authors offer originality here as well. The chapters not only include readings taken from Web sites along with the academic readings and first-person narratives, they also engage the diversity and intersectionality of gender as a constitutive feature of the organization of gender. Each reading is tagged in the Table of Contents to identify its content, some having several tags. These include “culture,” “classic,” “Web,” “P.O.V. [first person narratives],” empirical,” and “theory.”

Section 1 on “Gender Diversity and the Binary,” for instance, introduces the theoretical notion of the continuum of genders and sexualities through three essays tagged as “classic” and “theory,” since they are authored by well-known feminist sociologists and lay out the theoretical framework for the chapter. These include “Doing Gender” by Candace West and Don H. Zimmerman, Judith Lorber’s “Night to His Day: The Social Construction of Gender,” and Patricia Hill Collins’s “Toward a New Vision: Race, Class, and Gender as Categories of Analysis and Connection.” The remaining readings are taken from diverse popular Web sites, journals, or published books. For example, Reading 5 by Zachary I. Nataf, “Whatever I Feel . . . ” is tagged as “culture” and explains the complexity of gender and sexuality through a 1997 documentary, Guevote, produced by filmmaker Rolando Sanchez, that features the everyday life of two pseudo-hermaphrodites, Chi-Chi and Bonny.

The following sections follow the same pattern as the first, but address different dimensions of gender. Section 2, “The Microcosm of Gender: Individuals in Context,” contains two chapters that focus on the individual experience of the gendered body and sexualities...


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pp. 158-160
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