Forming and Reforming Identity exposes the historical sites of identity formation and seeks to define the mechanisms of modern-day gender ideologies. Illuminating the power of the family and state in shaping gender identities, the book also examines the constitution of these identities. Each chapter reveals the complexities and contradictions that inevitably accompany the formation of any new category of identity, whether they are deliberately restrictive or intended as a reformation of the old.
The volume moves, as gender construction does, across a field of different media: novels, plays, teleplays, films, official documents, political theory, and advertisements. Four sectionsREMOLDING WOMAN; REBELLING MAN; HOMEMADE IDENTITIES; and FEMINISMS THAT MAKE (A) DIFFERENCEaddress such subjects as the representation of American women in the 1950s; nationalism and respectable sexuality in India; women, Hollywood cinema, and World War II; compulsory heterophobia; and the televising of AIDS.