The Politics of Women's Bodies: Sexuality, Appearance, and Behavior / Edition 3

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For the past three decades, feminist scholars have examined how the female body and ideas about the female body affect women's lives. Revised and updated in its third edition, The Politics of Women's Bodies: Sexuality, Appearance, and Behavior brings together recent critical writings in this important field. The selections reflect three themes: how ideas about women's bodies in the United States are socially constructed, how these social constructions can be used to control women's lives, and how women attempt to resist these forces. Exceptionally well-written and edited for accessibility, the articles cover a wide range of topics and also address issues of class, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

Featuring eleven new cutting-edge articles, the third edition of The Politics of Women's Bodies expands the book's focus with coverage of intersexuality, fatness, body modification, images of African American and Latina women, Goth culture and women's sexuality, how poverty is marked on the female body, how boys' concerns about masculinity lead them to subjugate girls' bodies, and other issues. This edition also includes new introductions to each article that explain key concepts and put the articles in context.

A unique interdisciplinary anthology, The Politics of Women's Bodies, Third Edition, is ideal for undergraduate courses on the body or sexuality. It is also an excellent fit for introductory courses in women's studies as well as courses in women and health, feminist theory, and the psychology, anthropology, or sociology of women.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"I LOVE this book. I would be miserable teaching my 'gender, sexuality, and the body' course without it."--Laura Carpenter, Vanderbilt University

"I love the approach of the text. It is by far a favorite of my students. I always get positive feedback on it. Weitz's inclusion of issues concerning class and race works well with my lectures on interlocking oppressions. The book is both challenging and insightful."--Kim MacInnis, Bridgewater State College

"I will definitely adopt a new edition. . . . This is currently the only text that comprehensively offers the breadth of information about women's bodily experiences. The Politics of Women's Bodies has provided me with a sound framework to build my course, and continues to be a very effective source for my students."--Tonja Olive, Colorado College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195390636
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/5/2009
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 729,189
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Rose Weitz is Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. She is the author of several books, including The Sociology of Health, Illness, and Health Care: A Critical Approach (2012) and Rapunzel's Daughters: What Women's Hair Tells Us About Women's Lives (2004).

Samantha Kwan is Associate Professor of Sociology and a Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies faculty affiliate at the University of Houston. She is coauthor of Framing Fat: Competing Constructions in Contemporary Culture (2013) and coeditor of Embodied Resistance: Challenging the Norms, Breaking the Rules (2011).

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Table of Contents

*=New to this edition
1. A History of Women's Bodies, Rose Weitz
This article delineates how ideas about the female body have changed--or not--over time, as well as the very real impact those ideas have had on women's lives.
2. Believing Is Seeing: Biology as Ideology, Judith Lorber
Lorber argues that binary sex differences are a social construction: they appear to be natural and real only because our cultural practices make them real.
3. Becoming a Gendered Body: Practices of Preschools, Karin A. Martin
Martin explores how preschools teach young children to "perform gender" and to develop embodied selves that are "properly" gendered.
4. Women and Medicalization: A New Perspective, Catherine Kohler Riessman
This article examines why women sometimes have supported the medicalization of their bodies, and how medicalization has both benefited and harmed women.
* 5. Affronting Reason, Cheryl Chase
Chase describes the medicalization of intersex--and the price she, personally, paid for it. Medicalization, she argues, has served more to reinforce cultural ideas about sex and gender than to help intersex children.
6. Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power, Sandra Lee Bartky
Bartky describes how women internalize social expectations regarding female appearance and behavior and then adopt "disciplinary practices" to meet those expectations that reinforce their subordination to men.
7. Menarche and the (Hetero)sexualization of the Female Body, Janet Lee
This article explores how girls' experiences with menstruation affect their sense of self and body, and how those experiences can serve as sites of resistance.
8. Daring to Desire: Culture and the Bodies of Adolescent Girls, Deborah L. Tolman
Tolman describes how teenage girls think about sexual desire and explores how their ideas are shaped by both the promise of sexual pleasure and the threat of sexual danger.
* 9. "Get Your Freak On": Sex, Babies, and Images of Black Femininity, Patricia Hill Collins
This article explores contemporary images of African American women, discusses how these images reinforce racism, and shows how African American women use these images to assert control over their bodies and lives.
* 10. Brain, Brow, and Booty: Latina Iconicity in U.S. Popular Culture, Isabel Molina Guzmán and Angharad N. Valdivia
The authors analyze the gendered and racialized media portrayals of Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek, and Frida Kahlo.
* 11. "So Full of Myself as a Chick": Goth Women, Sexual Independence, and Gender Egalitarianism, Amy C. Wilkins
Wilkins shows how Goth women are exempted from dominant cultural norms for sexuality and appearance; their post-feminist assumptions, however, camouflage gender and sexual inequality within Goth culture.
12. Breasted Experience: The Look and the Feeling, Iris Marion Young
This article explores women's relationships with their breasts; women sometimes view their breasts as objects to be used and other times act as subjects whose breasts are part of their essential selves.
* 13. Designing Women: Cultural Hegemony and the Exercise of Power among Women Who Have Undergone Elective Mammoplasty, Patricia Gagné and Deanna McGaughey
The authors show how women actively choose cosmetic surgery (exercising free will), but do so in the context of hegemonic cultural norms that make it difficult for them to consider other choices.
14. Women and Their Hair: Seeking Power Through Resistance and Accommodation, Rose Weitz
Weitz uses women's experiences with their hair to illustrate how resistance and accommodation are interwoven in women's everyday bodily experiences.
* 15. Branded with Infamy: Inscriptions of Poverty and Class in the United States, Vivyan C. Adair
This article describes how poverty and its stigma are physically marked on the bodies of poor women and how that stigma both supports public policies that discipline poor women's bodies and encourages poor women to discipline their own bodies.
* 16. Letting Ourselves Go: Making Room for the Fat Body in Feminist Scholarship, Cecilia Hartley
Hartley dissects cultural norms that stigmatize fat women, explores how those norms affect all women, and suggests that fatness can be a form of feminist resistance.
* 17. Rip Tide: Swimming Through Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Andrea Avery
Avery describes her embodied experiences living as a young woman with rheumatoid arthritis; she explores how she has developed a positive embodied self that acknowledges her illness but does not let it define her.
* 18. Reclaiming the Female Body: Women Body Modifiers and Feminist Debates, Victoria Pitts
This article analyzes both how women use body modification to take control of their bodies and the benefits and limitations of this embodied resistance.
19. From the "Muscle Moll" to the "Butch" Ballplayer: Mannishness, Lesbianism, and Homophobia in U.S. Women's Sports, Susan K. Cahn
Cahn traces the modern history of women in sports and shows how gendered and racial stereotypes led women athletes to become stigmatized, first as heterosexually "loose" and later as presumed lesbians.
20. "Holding Back": Negotiating a Glass Ceiling on Women's Muscular Strength, Shari L. Dworkin
Dworkin describes how women who work out in gyms are discouraged from building muscle, thus reinforcing sex differences and the idea that women cannot build muscle.
* 21. Compulsive Heterosexuality: Masculinity and Dominance, C.J. Pascoe
This article describes how male high school students demonstrate their heterosexuality and their dominance over girls' bodies--sometimes violently--in order to claim masculine power and identity for themselves.
22. Till Death Us Do Part, Margo Wilson and Martin Daly
The idea of women's bodies as men's property, the authors argue, underpins wife battering and murder around the world.
* 23. Backlash and Continuity: The Political Trajectory of Fetal Rights, Rachel Roth
Roth describes how the battle over reproductive rights has led to the recent push for "fetal rights"--an idea she believes has served more to punish women for nontraditional behavior than to protect their children.

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