Synopses & Reviews
"A deeply troubling, memorable account of teen girls learning the ways of whiteness, Kenny's ethnography helps us to see how a white norm is produced and maintained in suburbia and lets us eavesdrop as the girls police themselves and are policed by the media." --Maureen Reddy, author of Crossing the Color Line: Race, Parenting, and Culture "This book makes a significant contribution to the literature on the social construction of whiteness and to work on U.S. popular culture. It will be of widespread interest." --Kamala Visweswaran, author of Fictions of Feminist Ethnography White middle-class suburbia represents all that is considered "normal" in the United States, especially to the people who live its privileged life. Part ethnography, part cultural study, Daughters of Suburbia focuses on the lives of teenage girls from this world--the world of the Long Island, New York, middle school that author Lorraine Kenny once attended--to examine how standards of normalcy define gender, exercise power, and reinforce the cultural practices of whiteness. In order to move beyond characterizations of "the normal" (a loaded term that can obscure much of what actually defines this culture), Kenny highlights both the experiences of the middle-school students and the stories of three notoriously "bad" white middle-class teenage girls: Amy Fischer, the "Pistol-Packing Long Island Lolita," Cheryl Pierson, who hired a classmate to murder her father, and Emily Heinrichs, a former white supremacist and a teen mom. Arguing that middle-class whiteness thrives on its invisibility--on not being recognized as a cultural phenomenon--Kenny suggests that what the media identify as aberrant, as well as what they choose not to represent, are the keys to identifying the unspoken assumptions that constitute middle-class whiteness as a cultural norm. Daughters of Suburbia makes the familiar strange and gives substance to an otherwise intangible social position. Lorraine Kenny is the Public Education Coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project. She has taught anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College.