The University of Wisconsin Press

Gender/ Queer Studies / Multicultural Studies / Law / Social Issues

Gender Nonconformity, Race, and Sexuality
Charting the Connections
Edited by Toni Lester

What does it mean to be a "real man" or a "real woman" in our society?

How are culturally constructed stereotypes about appropriate sex-based behavior formed? If a person who is biologically female behaves in a stereotypically masculine manner, what are the social, political, and cultural forces that may police her behavior? And how will she manage her gendered image in response to that policing? Finally, how do race, ethnicity, or sexuality inform the way that sex-based roles are constructed, policed, or managed?

The chapters in this book address such questions from social science perspectives and then examine personal stories of reinvention and transformation, including discussions of the lives of dancers Isadora Duncan and Bill T. Jones, playwright Lorraine Hansberry, and surrealist artist Claude Cahun. Writers from fields as diverse as history, art, psychology, law, literature, sociology, and the activist community look at gender nonconformity from conceptual, theoretical, and empirical perspectives. They emphasize that gender nonconformists can be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or anyone else who does not fit a model of Caucasian heterosexual behavior characterized by binary masculine and feminine roles.

"The first wave of queer-studies texts focused primarily on how apart lesbians and gays were from the norms of the "known" world, as defined by mostly white, straight, and male academics. This separatist thinking was reasonable - a new intellectual discipline was forming, with new language to express it and new truths to be argued. But a community more confident of its identity acknowledges that no sexual being is an island - and Gender Nonconformity, Race, and Sexuality, containing essays often dauntingly theoretical and sometimes engagingly personal, is a confident collection. Lester's thesis is that gender, race, and sexuality inevitably - though not always apparently - intersect to inform an assured sense of self. The book's first section, "Defining and Policing the Boundaries of Gender," is likely heavy sledding for nonacademics, though perfect for the thoughtful classroom. For the casual reader, the second section is more rewarding, with accessible reflections on real life - for example, how such disparate dancers as Isadora Duncan and Bill T. Jones incorporated their gender, their color, and their lusts into their art." —Richard Labonte, Book Marks, Front Page

This collection is an insightful, interdisciplinary contribution to race, sexuality, and gender scholarship. The contributors brilliantly chart the connections, and collectively they provide a critical intervention in the theorization of the complex and overlapping character of oppression."—Carl Stychin, University of Reading

Michael Anderson, Whitney Chadwick, Shannon Dowling, Mary Gentile, Katie Gilmartin, Julie Greenberg, Peter Hegarty, Toni Lester, Carol Martin, Geeta Patel, Francine Pinnuck, Martin Summers

Toni Lester is a Professor of Law at Babson College, and has been a visiting scholar at both the Institute for Gender at Stanford University, and the Centre for Research on Gender and Sexuality at Kent University in Canterbury, England.


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February 2003
LC: 2002003997 HQ
248 pp.   6 x 9   5 b/w photos

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Paper $27.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-18144-4
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E-book $37.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-18143-7
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The cloth edition ISBN 978-0-299-18140-6 is out of print.

"Thought provoking and insightful, this book brings to life connections among race, gender, and sexuality in the realms of law, psychology, arts, and politics. The use of compelling case histories and personal narratives makes this collection uniquely engaging, powerful, and accessible. Anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the ways in which race, gender, and sexuality are inextricably intertwined should read this book."
—Kim Westheimer, coauthor of When the Drama Club is Not Enough: Lessons From the Safe Schools Program for Gay and Lesbian Students

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