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Citizenship Rites: Feminist Soldiers and Feminist Antimilitaristsby Ilene Rose Feinman
Synopses & Reviews
Looks can be deceiving, and in a society where one's status and access to opportunity are largely attendant on physical appearance, the issue of how difference is constructed and interpreted, embraced or effaced, is of tremendous import.
Lisa Walker examines this issue with a focus on the questions of what it means to look like a lesbian, and what it means to be a lesbian but not to look like one. She analyzes the historical production of the lesbian body as marked, and studies how lesbians have used the frequent analogy between racial difference and sexual orientation to craft, emphasize, or deny physical difference. In particular, she explores the implications of a predominantly visible model of sexual identity for the feminine lesbian, who is both marked and unmarked, desired and disavowed.
Walker's textual analysis cuts across a variety of genres, including modernist fiction such as The Well of Loneliness and Wide Sargasso Sea, pulp fiction of the Harlem Renaissance, the 1950s and the 1960s, post-modern literature as Michelle Cliff's Abeng, and queer theory.
In the book's final chapter, "How to Recognize a Lesbian," Walker argues that strategies of visibility are at times deconstructed, at times reinscribed within contemporary lesbian-feminist theory.
Book News Annotation:
Feinman (Institute for Human Communication, California State U.), labeling herself an antimilitarist feminist, attempts to account for and reconcile the structures that lead some feminists to insist on full inclusion and participation in the armed forces. Analyzing and approving the wish for inclusion as a will towards full citizenship, she nevertheless argues that the military and war itself are essentially expressions of patriarchy and calls for a dialogue between feminist militarists and feminist antimilitarist (without this dialogue, she fears, the field is left open to antifeminist militarists).
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In the United States, the question of women in the armed services has been continuously and hotly debated. Among feminists, two fundamentally differing views of women in the military have developed. Feminist antimilitarists tell us that militarism and patriarchy have together pressed women into second class citizenship. Meanwhile, feminist soldiers and their advocates regard martial service as women's right and responsibility and the ticket to first class citizenship.
Citizenship Rites investigates what is at stake for women in these debates. Exploring the perspectives of both feminist antimilitarists and feminist soldiers, Ilene Feinman situates the current combat controversy within the context of the sea change in United States politics since the 1970s-from ERA debates over drafting women to recent representations of military women such as the film GI Jane. Drawing on congressional testimony, court cases, feminist and antiracist political discourse, and antimilitarist activism, Feinman addresses our pressing need for an analysis of women's increasing inclusion in the armed forces while providing a provocative investigation of what this changing role means for women and society alike.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 243-276) and index.
About the Author
Ilene Rose Feinman is Assistant Professor of Democratic Participation and U.S. Cultures at Cal State Monterey Bay.
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