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.
"Ilene Rose Feinman shows us how feminist theorizing grows out of feminist activist engagement7#8212;and then is tested through direct action and refined. The questions she raises here—about the meanings and practices of citizenship and the impacts of soldiering on democratic life—are urgent as we move into a new century."
"It is pure polemic. Those already converted will be inspired."
"Disputes about who should or should not be permitted to serve in the military have almost always centered on the perceived impact of a given group on military effectiveness. Feinman takes a fresh approach to the subject of women and the military by placing citizenship, rather than war, at the center of her analysis. In a volume that addresses a complicated set of issues with great clarity and respect, Citizenship Rites asks what the relationship is between citizenship and soldiering, and between soldiering and feminism. It makes a unique and valuable contribution to a discussion that has been largely absent from the broader rhetoric over issues of gender, peace, and war."
"Libraries serving upper-division undergraduates and graduate students should acquire this work."-Choice,
"One of the great virtues of Lisa Walker's Looking Like What You Are is the ease with which she is able to personalize theoretical discourses. After being drawn in by her narrative style and her engaging use of anecdote, the reader will discover an elegantly written, thoroughly substantiated, and deeply convincing argument about the role of visibility in twentieth-century identity politics."-Bonnie Zimmerman,San Diego State University
"Both a remarkable feat of conscientious scholarship and a pleasure to read, Looking Like What You Are will prove of great interest to scholars of gender, race/ethnicity, class, and sexuality alike."-Renée C. Hoogland,University of Nijmegan
"Subtle, lucid, and stylish, Walker's book offers a provocative and challenging model for living and writing in 'sustained contradiction.'"-Elizabeth Meese,University of Alabama
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.