Synopses & Reviews
and#147;In this moving book, Leslie Bell gives us insight into the hearts and minds of 20-something women confronted with the emotional challenges of a culture that says they can have it all. Through poignant, rich individual narratives, Bell shows how professionally successful and sexually experienced young women wrestle with feelings of vulnerability and confusion about relationships and desire. 20-somethings will find relief and self-understanding through reading this book, and it will be of great help to those who treat and those who wish to understand them.and#8221;and#151;Nancy J. Chodorow, author of Individualizing Gender and Sexuality: Theory and Practice
"Women should be assertive but not aggressive, feminine but not passive, honest but not overwhelming. But how? Especially for women between ages 17 (the average age for first sex) and 27 (the average age of marriage) the rules for how to be a woman are highly unclear. In this deeply wise, very lucid, and highly illuminating book Bell, a sociologist and psychotherapist, describes how women sometimes and#147;splitand#8221; their desires for connection, sex and professional success. And she points to ways of moving beyond the split. An important book for women and#150; and men."and#151;Arlie Hochschild, Author of The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times
and#147;Leslie Bell introduces us to a new developmental period for 20 something women in which they are focused on sexual and relationship satisfaction. By sharing these women's stories Bell helps us to explore complex issues of ambivalence, subjectivity, and identity that are at the core of personal, relational and sexual fulfillment.and#8221;and#151;C.J. Pascoe, author of Dude, Youand#8217;re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School
and#147;While popular portrayals of women and sex are glossy, voyeuristic, simplified, unemotional, or trite, Hard to Get offers rarely heard detailed stories that are told with emotional resonance and connection to womenand#8217;s full lives and selves. Bell has made a superb contribution to our understanding about how women navigate sexuality in young adulthood in an era when they no longer must be married, and thus she has enlightened our understanding of womenand#8217;s social, sexual, and psychological lives.and#8221;and#151;Karin A. Martin, author of Puberty, Sexuality, and the Self: Boys and Girls at Adolescence
"Hard to Get shows us why, in the 21st Century, sex is easy but relationships are not. Every 20something woman who is having sex, but feels that something is amiss, should read this book."and#151;Meg Jay, Ph.D., author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now
"Can todayand#8217;s young women be independent and sexually agentic while also satisfying their relational needs for intimacy? Bell believes that they can, and insightfully uses womenand#8217;s stories to reveal the inner and outer barriers to having it all."and#151;Paula England, New York University
and#147;Bell offers a profoundly original and important argument about why and#150; despite gains in education and employment -- young women in America continue to be short-changed in sex and intimacy. And she gives us a new, compelling vision of what it would mean for them to attain true sexual liberation.and#8221;and#151;Amy Schalet, author of Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and the Culture of Sex
and#147;Female sexuality provides endless fascination; but how do actual young women find happiness in sex and love? Leslie Bell gives us an up-close look at twenty-something women at a cultural moment when they have more freedom than ever before, but their desires and#150; sexual and relational and#150; continue to confound. Bell navigates this complex terrain with compassion, keen insight, and an eye to social change.and#8221;and#151;Daphne de Marneffe, PhD, author of Maternal Desire: On Children, Love, and the Inner Life
“A stirring coda to one of the greatest chapters in the history of US radicalism.”
“There are lessons here for activists that make this slim volume a handbook for personal, and therefore, social transformation.”
“A radical start-up kit for combatting neoliberal capitalism.”
and#8220;A seminal book.and#8221;
"Eerily close to the contradictory feelings you've personally had on the subject, but haven't been able to express."
and#8220;Finally! A nuanced look at hookup culture. This hookup book is not like the others.and#8221;
and#8220;Bell hopes to dislodge embedded stereotypes of men as subject and women as object and defuse the fear that our sexuality is dangerous. Her book just might help that happen.and#8221;
and#8220;Makes a compelling case that young women are both more ambitiousand#8212;and also more conflicted about relationshipsand#8212;than ever before.and#8221;
and#8220;Emphasises that the problem is not conflict and hurt, which are inevitable parts of living, but rather that the way these young women interpret and learn from their experiences is crucial.and#8221;
and#8220;Belland#8217;s clear prose and accessible subject matter will appeal to both scholars of womenand#8217;s studies and young women looking for an explanation of some of the predicaments their generation faces.and#8221;
and#8220;[Bell] hoped to find that young women would have dynamic, confident sex lives . . . but found a much more complex, difficult, dare we say Lena Dunham-esque situation instead.and#8221;
"[Hard to Get] will resonate with many, and . . . will intrigue sociologists in this field."
"Timely. . . . Bell provides a nuanced examination of the conflicts 20-something women have in navigating the issues of their professional life versus their personal life."
Since the early 1980s, neoliberalism--the political work of shrinking the state, shredding the social safety net, and increasing wealth disparities--has transformed our lives in the United States. By looking at families and households, the place where we live our economic situation, How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics argues that the politics of reproduction and reproductive labor (the work we do to keep ourselves and families alive) are the arena where we have fought over neoliberalism's changes. Debates over the culture wars--welfare reform, immigration, IVF, gay marriage--have above all been a particularly racialized airing of our conflicts over these changes. Wall Street, Republicans, and neoliberal Democrats could not have effected the changes in government and the economy without the denigration of certain households--impoverished, African-American, immigrant--as unworthy of public benefits and social support. From long work hours to intensifying inequalities in infant mortality and housing, How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics measures what we have lost and asks how we can fight to get it back.
Now all politics are reproductive politics, argues esteemed feminist critic, Laura Briggs. Today's economic realities mean we are always at work, and time to care for dependents and communities has evaporated. Our households bear witness to this with trends towards later childbearing, growing use of IVF, widening racial disparities in infant mortality, and popular dependence on risky marriages and mortgages for semblances of security. Meanwhile an immigrant workforce (which is actually more female than male) cares for US households while leaving their own kids in home countries. This brilliant book outlines our crisis and explains how we got here. From Republican and Democrat stories of Black "welfare queens" and Latina "breeding machines" that helped destroy the so-called nanny state to stagnant wages in rising McJobs, and from a Queer turn to same-sex marriage to the blame game for the subprime crisis, Laura Briggs shows how from the 1980s to Trump and beyond, our current woes are anything but our fault.
Today all politics are reproductive politics, argues esteemed feminist critic Laura Briggs. Economic realities mean we are always at work, and there's little time to care for dependents and communities. The consequences include later childbearing, growing use of in vitro fertilization, widening racial disparities in infant mortality, and dependence on risky marriages and mortgages for semblances of security. Meanwhile, immigrant workers (who are more female than male) care for US households while leaving their own kids back in their home countries. This brilliant book outlines how all current political issues stem from or are directly related to reproduction. From Republican and Democrat stories of Black "welfare queens" and Latina "breeding machines" that helped destroy the so-called nanny state to stagnant wages in rising McJobs, and from a queer turn to same-sex marriage to the blame game for the subprime crisis, Laura Briggs shows how from the 1980s to Trump and beyond, our current woes are anything but our fault.
Today all politics are reproductive politics, argues esteemed feminist critic Laura Briggs. From longer work hours to the election of Donald Trump, our current political crisis is above all about reproduction. Households are where we face our economic realities as social safety nets get cut and wages decline. Briggs brilliantly outlines how politicians' racist accounts of reproduction--stories of Black "welfare queens" and Latina "breeding machines"--were the leading wedge in the government and business disinvestment in families. With stagnant wages, rising McJobs, and no resources for family care, our households have grown ever more precarious over the past forty years in sharply race- and class-stratified ways. This, argues Briggs, is the critical crisis that fuels all others--from immigration to gay marriage, anti-feminism to the rise of the Tea Party.
A world dominated by America and driven by cheap oil, easy credit, and conspicuous consumption is unraveling before our eyes. In this powerful, deeply humanistic book, Grace Lee Boggs, a legendary figure in the struggle for justice in America, shrewdly assesses the current crisispolitical, economical, and environmentaland shows how to create the radical social change we need to confront new realities. A vibrant, inspirational force, Boggs has participated in all of the twentieth centurys major social movementsfor civil rights, womens rights, workers rights, and more. She draws from seven decades of activist experience, and a rigorous commitment to critical thinking, to redefine revolution” for our times. From her home in Detroit, she reveals how hope and creativity are overcoming despair and decay within the most devastated urban communities. Her book is a manifesto for creating alternative modes of work, politics, and human interaction that will collectively constitute the next American Revolution.
"Reading Grace Lee Boggs helps you glimpse a United States that is better and more beautiful than you thought it was. As she analyzes some of the inspiring theories and practices that have emerged from the struggles for equality and freedom in Detroit and beyond, she also shows us that in this country, a future revolution is not only necessary but possible."
Michael Hardt, co-author of Commonwealth
"This groundbreaking book not only represents the best of Grace Lee Boggs, but the best of any radical, visionary thinking in the United States. She reminds us why revolution is not only possible and necessary, but in some places already in the making. The conditions we face under neoliberalism and war do, indeed, mark the end of an era in which the old ideological positions of protest are not really relevant or effectiveand this book offers a new way forward."Robin D.G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
Grace Boggs has long been a major voice of hope and action for transformation of the United States and the world. Here is her testimony of hope and program for action. It must be taken seriously.”
Immanuel Wallerstein, author of Utopistics: or, Historical Choices of the Twenty-first Century
"One of the most accomplished radicals of our time, the Detroit-based visionary Grace Lee Boggs has become one of our most influential and inspiring public intellectuals. The Next American Revolution is her powerful reflection on a lifetime of urban revolutionary work, an ode to the courage and brilliance of her late partner James Boggs, and a plain-spoken call for us to address the troubled times we face with a sense of history, a strong set of values, and an unwavering faith in our own creative, restorative powers."
Jeff Chang, author of Can't Stop Won't Stop
High school and the difficult terrain of sexuality and gender identity are brilliantly explored in this smart, incisive ethnography. Based on eighteen months of fieldwork in a racially diverse working-class high school, Dude, You're a Fag sheds new light on masculinity both as a field of meaning and as a set of social practices. C. J. Pascoe's unorthodox approach analyzes masculinity as not only a gendered process but also a sexual one. She demonstrates how the "specter of the fag" becomes a disciplinary mechanism for regulating heterosexual as well as homosexual boys and how the "fag discourse" is as much tied to gender as it is to sexuality.
"Laced with evocative stories based on ethnographic observations and interviews with high school kids, Dude, You're a Fag
tells gripping stories of life in high school, while helping to extend the cutting edge of scholarly theory on gender and sexualities. C.J. Pascoe has contributed a highly readable and extremely insightful book that will be required reading for students and scholars of youth and the construction of sex and gender in schools."Michael A. Messner, author of Taking the Field: Women, Men and Sports
"This is a strikingly original study of schoolboys renegotiating class, gender, and ethnicity, along with the labeling as 'fag'. Here homophobia is at work in a path breaking study, which is also a highly readable must-read."Ken Plummer, University of Essex, and editor of Sexualities
"We know that schools are a central site for the construction of gender identity, but until C. J. Pascoe's careful and compassionate ethnography, we haven't known exactly how gender conformity is extracted from a slurry of humiliations, fears, and anxieties. Boys will not be boys unless they are made to be, by violence, real or implied. A troubling, thoughtful work."Michael Kimmel, author of Manhood in America
"Pascoe's thoughtful analysis of the rhetorical and interactional processes that constitute the field of masculinity for young, high school men coming of age is rich and engaging. With fresh insight and careful observation, Pascoe sheds new light on the complex interplay of masculinity, homophobia, sexuality, and the body, compelling us to rethink the formation of gender identities, collective gender practices, and the reproduction of gender inequalities."Amy L. Best, author of Prom Night: Youth, Schools and Popular Culture and Fast Cars, Cool Rides: The Accelerating World of Youth and Their Cars
"In this superb ethnography of daily life in a contemporary high school, C. J. Pascoe highlights the sexualized dynamics of youthful masculinity. With vivid detail and perceptive analysis, she examines the 'fag talk' which pervades boys' conversations; the convergence of gender, sexual, and racialized practices in school rituals like the 'Mr. Cougar' contest; and the experiences of girls who display themselves as masculine. The result is a book that breaks fresh ground in masculinity and gender studies-and is a very good read!"Barrie Thorne, author of Gender Play: Girls and Boys in School
Millie Acevedo bore her first child before the age of 16 and dropped out of high school to care for her newborn. Now 27, she is the unmarried mother of three and is raising her kids in one of Philadelphia's poorest neighborhoods. Would she and her children be better off if she had waited to have them and had married their father first? Why do so many poor American youth like Millie continue to have children before they can afford to take care of them?
Over a span of five years, sociologists Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas talked in-depth with 162 low-income single moms like Millie to learn how they think about marriage and family. Promises I Can Keep offers an intimate look at what marriage and motherhood mean to these women and provides the most extensive on-the-ground study to date of why they put children before marriage despite the daunting challenges they know lie ahead.
"This is the most important study ever written on motherhood and marriage among low-income urban women. Edin and Kefalas's timely, engaging, and well-written book is a careful ethnographic study that paints an indelible portrait of family life in poor communities and, in the process, provides incredible insights on the explosion of mother-only families within these communities."and#151;William Julius Wilson, author of The Bridge over the Racial Divide
"This book provides the most insightful and comprehensive account I have read of the reasons why many low-income women postpone marriage but don't postpone childbearing. Edin and Kefalas do an excellent job of illuminating the changing meaning of marriage in American society."and#151;Andrew Cherlin, author of Public and Private Families
and#147;Edin and Kefalas provide an original and convincing argument for why low-income women continue to embrace motherhood while postponing and raising the bar on marriage. This book is a must read for students of the family as well as for policy makers and practitioners who hope to rebuild marriage in low-income communities.and#8221;and#151;Sara McLanahan, author of Growing Up with a Single Parent
"Promises I Can Keep is the best kind of exploration: honest, incisive and ever-so-original. It'll make you squirm, and that's a good thing, especially since Edin and Kefalas try to make sense of the biggest demographic shift in the last half century. This is a must read for anyone interested in the tangled intersection of family and public policy."and#151;Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here
Original and compelling, Laura Briggs's Reproducing Empire
shows how, for both Puerto Ricans and North Americans, ideologies of sexuality, reproduction, and gender have shaped relations between the island and the mainland. From science to public policy, the "culture of poverty" to overpopulation, feminism to Puerto Rican nationalism, this book uncovers the persistence of concerns about motherhood, prostitution, and family in shaping the beliefs and practices of virtually every player in the twentieth-century drama of Puerto Rican colonialism. In this way, it sheds light on the legacies haunting contemporary debates over globalization.
Puerto Rico is a perfect lens through which to examine colonialism and globalization because for the past century it has been where the United States has expressed and fine-tuned its attitudes toward its own expansionism. Puerto Rico's history holds no simple lessons for present-day debate over globalization but does unearth some of its history. Reproducing Empire suggests that interventionist discourses of rescue, family, and sexuality fueled U.S. imperial projects and organized American colonialism.
Through the politics, biology, and medicine of eugenics, prostitution, and birth control, the United States has justified its presence in the territory's politics and society. Briggs makes an innovative contribution to Puerto Rican and U.S. history, effectively arguing that gender has been crucial to the relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico, and more broadly, to U.S. expansion elsewhere.
"Laura Briggs has given us a very smart book. She's opened my eyes to Puerto Rican women's centrality to the entire American imperial enterprise. Pay attention to prostitutionand#151;debates about it, maneuvers to control it, reliance on itand#151;and we'll gain a more realistic sense of political life. Briggs shows us how true that is. I'm going to recommend this book to everyone."and#151;Cynthia Enloe, author of Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Women's Lives
"A superb analysis of how U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico had profound effects on sex, gender, and racial formations in both nations. Briggs sets new standards for the study of race and gender in U.S. women's history."and#151;Peggy Pascoe, University of Oregon
Hard to Get is a powerful and intimate examination of the sex and love lives of the most liberated women in historyand#151;twenty-something American women who have had more opportunities, more positive role models, and more information than any previous generation. Drawing from her years of experience as a researcher and a psychotherapist, Leslie C. Bell takes us directly into the lives of young women who struggle to negotiate the complexities of sexual desire and pleasure, and to make sense of their historically unique but contradictory constellation of opportunities and challenges. In candid interviews, Belland#8217;s subjects reveal that, despite having more choices than ever, they face great uncertainty about desire, sexuality, and relationships. Ground-breaking and highly readable, Hard to Get offers fascinating insights into the many ways that sex, love, and satisfying relationships prove surprisingly elusive to these young women as they navigate the new emotional landscape of the 21st century.
About the Author
Grace Lee Boggs,
the recipient of many human rights and lifetime achievement awards, is an activist, writer, and speaker. She is celebrated in the National Womens Hall of Fame. Boggs is the coauthor, with James Boggs, of Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century
and the author of Living for Change: An Autobiography.
The daughter of Chinese immigrants, she is 95 years old.
Scott Kurashige is Associate Professor at the University of Michigan and author of The Shifting Grounds of Race: Black and Japanese Americans in the Making of Multiethnic Los Angeles.
Table of Contents
1. Making Masculinity: Adolescence, Identity, and High School
Revenge of the Nerds
What Do We Mean by Masculinity?
Bringing in Sexuality
Rethinking Masculinity, Sexuality, and Bodies
Organization of the Book
2. Becoming Mr. Cougar: Institutionalizing Heterosexuality and Masculinity at River High
River Highs Gender and Sexuality Curriculum
Pedagogy: The Unofficial Gender and Sexuality Curriculum
School Rituals: Performing and Policing Gender and Sexuality
Gender and Sexuality Regimes
3. Dude, Youre a Fag: Adolescent Male Homophobia
What Is a Fag? Gendered Meanings
Becoming a Fag: Fag Fluidity
Embodying the Fag: Rickys Story
Racializing the Fag
Where the Fag Disappears: Drama Performances
4. Compulsive Heterosexuality: Masculinity and Dominance
A Stud with the Ladies
Im Different from Other Guys
Females Are the Puppets
5. Look at My Masculinity! Girls Who Act Like Boys
Rebeca and the Basketball Girls
The Homecoming Queen: Jessie Chau
The Gay/Straight Alliance Girls
6. Conclusion: Thinking about Schooling, Gender, and Sexuality
Masculinity at River High
Appendix: What If a Guy Hits on You? Intersections of Gender, Sexuality, and Age in Fieldwork with Adolescents