White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South


Martha Hodes - 1997
    Martha Hodes tells a series of stories about such liaisons in the years before the Civil War, explores the complex ways in which white Southerners tolerated them in the slave South, and shows how and why these responses changed with emancipation. Hodes provides details of the wedding of a white servant-woman and a slave man in 1681, an antebellum rape accusation that uncovered a relationship between an unmarried white woman and a slave, and a divorce plea from a white farmer based on an adulterous affair between his wife and a neighborhood slave. Drawing on sources that include courtroom testimony, legislative petitions, pardon pleas, and congressional testimony, she presents the voices of the authorities, eyewitnesses, and the transgressors themselves—and these voices seem to say that in the slave South, whites were not overwhelmingly concerned about such liaisons, beyond the racial and legal status of the children that were produced. Only with the advent of black freedom did the issue move beyond neighborhood dramas and into the arena of politics, becoming a much more serious taboo than it had ever been before. Hodes gives vivid examples of the violence that followed the upheaval of war, when black men and white women were targeted by the Ku Klux Klan and unprecedented white rage and terrorism against such liaisons began to erupt. An era of terror and lynchings was inaugurated, and the legacy of these sexual politics lingered well into the twentieth century.

Personal Politics: The Roots of Women's Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement & the New Left


Sara M. Evans - 1979
    On the basis of years of research, interviews with dozens of the central figures, and her own personal experience, Evans explores how the political stance of these women was catalyzed and shaped by their sharp disillusionment at a time when their skills as political activists were newly and highly developed, enabling them to join forces to support their own cause.

Never Done: A History of American Housework


Susan Strasser - 1982
    Never Done begins by describing the household chores of nineteenth-century America: cooking at fireplaces and on cast-iron stoves, laundry done with boilers and flatirons, endless water-hauling and fire-tending, and so on. Strasser goes on to explain and explore how industrialization transformed the nature of women's work. Easing some tasks and eliminating others, new commercial processes inexorably altered women's daily lives and relationships—with each other and with those they served.

The Bonds of Womanhood: "Woman's Sphere" in New England, 1780-1835


Nancy F. Cott - 1978
    Cott’s acclaimed study includes a new preface in which Cott assesses her own and other historian’s development of the concept of domesticity from the 1970s to the 1990s. “Nancy Cott’s Bonds of Womanhood is not just a pioneer work in women’s history. It is a classic. Despite all the work published since, it is still an essential starting place for understanding New England in the early republic.”—Laurel Thatcher Ulrich “Cott, still the best historian of women’s bonds and bondage, foresaw twenty years ago the tendency of domesticity’s bonds to lead both to feminism and the far right. An essential book for understanding today’s women.”—Carolyn Heilbrun Reviews of the earlier edition: “A lovely, gentle, scholarly, and valuable book.”—Doris Grumbach, New York Times Book Review “Women’s history at its best.”—Phyllis Kriegel, New Directions for Women

Sex Among the Rabble: An Intimate History of Gender and Power in the Age of Revolution, Philadelphia, 1730-1830


Clare A. Lyons - 2006
    Lyons uncovers a world where runaway wives challenged their husbands' patriarchal rights and where serial and casual sexual relationships were commonplace. By reading popular representations of sex against actual behavior, Lyons reveals the clash of meanings given to sex and illuminates struggles to recast sexuality in order to eliminate its subversive potential. Sexuality became the vehicle for exploring currents of liberty, freedom, and individualism in the politics of everyday life among groups of early Americans typically excluded from formal systems of governance--women, African Americans, and poor classes of whites. Lyons shows that men and women created a vibrant urban pleasure culture, including the eroticization of print culture, as eighteenth-century readers became fascinated with stories of bastardy, prostitution, seduction, and adultery. In the post-Revolutionary reaction, white middle-class men asserted their authority, Lyons argues, by creating a gender system that simultaneously allowed them the liberty of their passions, constrained middle-class women with virtue, and projected licentiousness onto lower-class whites and African Americans.Lyons's analysis shows how class and racial divisions fostered new constructions of sexuality that served as a foundation for gender. This gendering of sexuality in the new nation was integral to reconstituting social hierarchies and subordinating women and African Americans in the wake of the Revolution.

Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s


Kathleen M. Blee - 1992
    Brutal. Male. One of these stereotypes of the Ku Klux Klan offer a misleading picture. In Women of the Klan, sociologist Kathleen Blee unveils an accurate portrait of a racist movement that appealed to ordinary people throughout the country. In so doing, she dismantles the popular notion that politically involved women are always inspired by pacifism, equality, and justice."All the better people," a former Klanswoman assures us, were in the Klan. During the 1920s, perhaps half a million white native-born Protestant women joined the Women's Ku Klux Klan (WKKK). Like their male counterparts, Klanswomen held reactionary views on race, nationality, and religion. But their perspectives on gender roles were often progressive. The Klan publicly asserted that a women's order could safeguard women's suffrage and expand their other legal rights. Privately the WKKK was working to preserve white Protestant supremacy.Blee draws from extensive archival research and interviews with former Klan members and victims to underscore the complexity of extremist right-wing political movements. Issues of women's rights, she argues, do not fit comfortably into the standard dichotomies of "progressive" and "reactionary." These need to be replaced by a more complete understanding of how gender politics are related to the politics of race, religion, and class.

Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion, and Rock 'n' Roll


Simon Reynolds - 1996
    That's where my music is made." For so long, rock 'n' roll has been fueled by this fear and loathing of the feminine. The first book to look at rock rebellion through the lens of gender, The Sex Revolts captures the paradox at rock's dark heart--the music is often most thrilling when it is most misogynist and macho. And, looking at music made by female artists, it asks: must it always be this way?Provocative and passionately argued, the book walks the edgy line between a rock fan's excitement and a critic's awareness of the music's murky undercurrents. Here are the angry young men like the Stones and Sex Pistols, cutting free from home and mother; here are the warriors and crusaders, The Clash, Public Enemy, and U2 taking refuge in a brotherhood-in-arms; and here are the would-be supermen, with their man-machine fantasies and delusions of grandeur, from Led Zeppelin and Jim Morrison to Nick Cave and gangsta rap. The authors unravel the mystical, back-to-the-womb longings of the psychedelic tradition, from Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, and Van Morrison to Brian Eno, My Bloody Valentine, and ambient techno. Alongside the story of male rock, The Sex Revolts traces the secret history of female rebellion in rock: the masquerade and mystique of Kate Bush, Siouxie, and Grace Jones, the demystifiers of femininity, like the Slits and Riot Grrl, tomboy rockers like L7 and P. J. Harvey, and confessional artists like Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, and Courtney Love.A heady blend of music criticism, cultural studies, and gender theory by two of rock's keenest observers, The Sex Revolts is set to become the key text in the women-in-rock debate.

Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America


Philip Jenkins - 2006
    He identifies 1975 to 1986 as the watershed years. During this time, he says, there was a sharp increase in perceived threats to our security at home and abroad. At home, America seemed to be threatened by monstrous criminals--serial killers, child abusers, Satanic cults, and predatory drug dealers, to name just a few. On the international scene, we were confronted by the Soviet Union and its evil empire, by OPEC with its stranglehold on global oil, by the Ayatollahs who made hostages of our diplomats in Iran. Increasingly, these dangers began to be described in terms of moral evil. Rejecting the radicalism of the '60s, which many saw as the source of the crisis, Americans adopted a more pessimistic interpretation of human behavior, which harked back to much older themes in American culture. This simpler but darker vision ultimately brought us Ronald Reagan and the ascendancy of the political Right, which more than two decades later shows no sign of loosening its grip. Writing in his usual crisp and witty prose, Jenkins offers a truly original and persuasive account of a period that continues to fascinate the American public. It is bound to captivate anyone who lived through this period, as well as all those who want to understand the forces that transformed--and continue to define--the American political landscape.

Unequal Sisters: A Multicultural Reader in U. S. Women's History


Vicki L. Ruiz - 1990
    Addressing issues of race, ethnicity, religion, and sexuality, it provides a more accurate and inclusive history of US women.

Sexual Revolution in Early America


Richard Godbeer - 2002
    Charles Woodmason, an Anglican minister in South Carolina in 1766, described the region as a "stage of debauchery" in which polygamy was "very common," "concubinage general," and "bastardy no disrepute." These depictions of colonial North America's sexual culture sharply contradict the stereotype of Puritanical abstinence that persists in the popular imagination.In Sexual Revolution in Early America, Richard Godbeer boldly overturns conventional wisdom about the sexual values and customs of colonial Americans. His eye-opening historical account spans two centuries and most of British North America, from New England to the Caribbean, exploring the social, political, and legal dynamics that shaped a diverse sexual culture. Drawing on exhaustive research into diaries, letters, and other private papers, as well as legal records and official documents, Godbeer's absorbing narrative uncovers a persistent struggle between the moral authorities and the widespread expression of popular customs and individual urges.Godbeer begins with a discussion of the complex attitude that the Puritans had toward sexuality. For example, although believing that sex could be morally corrupting, they also considered it to be such an essential element of a healthy marriage that they excommunicated those who denied "conjugal fellowship" to their spouses. He next examines the ways in which race and class affected the debate about sexual mores, from anxieties about Anglo-Indian sexual relations to the sense of sexual entitlement that planters held over their African slaves. He concludes by detailing the fundamental shift in sexual culture during the eighteenth century towards the acceptance of a more individualistic concept of sexual desire and fulfillment. Today's moral critics, in their attempts to convince Americans of the social and spiritual consequences of unregulated sexual behavior, often harken back to a more innocent age; as this groundbreaking work makes clear, America's sexual culture has always been rich, vibrant, and contentious.

The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire


Leslie P. Peirce - 1993
    This book examines the sources of royal women's power and assesses the reactions of contemporaries, which ranged from loyal devotion to armed opposition. By examining political action in the context of household networks, Leslie Peirce demonstrates that female power was a logical, indeed an intended, consequence of political structures. Royal women were custodians of sovereign power, training their sons in its use and exercising it directly as regents when necessary. Furthermore, they played central roles in the public culture of sovereignty--royal ceremonial, monumental building, and patronage of artistic production. The Imperial Harem argues that the exercise of political power was tied to definitions of sexuality. Within the dynasty, the hierarchy of female power, like the hierarchy of male power, reflected the broader society's control for social control of the sexually active.

Nightwork: Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo Hostess Club


Anne Allison - 1994
    Allison performed the ritualized tasks of a hostess in one of Tokyo's many "hostess clubs": pouring drinks, lighting cigarettes, and making flattering or titillating conversation with the businessmen who came there on company expense accounts. Her book critically examines how such establishments create bonds among white-collar men and forge a masculine identity that suits the needs of their corporations.Allison describes in detail a typical company outing to such a club—what the men do, how they interact with the hostesses, the role the hostess is expected to play, and the extent to which all of this involves "play" rather than "work." Unlike previous books on Japanese nightlife, Allison's ethnography of one specific hostess club (here referred to as Bijo) views the general phenomenon from the eyes of a woman, hostess, and feminist anthropologist. Observing that clubs like Bijo further a kind of masculinity dependent on the gestures and labors of women, Allison seeks to uncover connections between such behavior and other social, economic, sexual, and gendered relations. She argues that Japanese corporate nightlife enables and institutionalizes a particular form of ritualized male dominance: in paying for this entertainment, Japanese corporations not only give their male workers a self-image as phallic man, but also develop relationships to work that are unconditional and unbreakable. This is a book that will appeal to anyone interested in gender roles or in contemporary Japanese society.

Virginity or Death!: And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time


Katha Pollitt - 2006
    In defense of human rights and equality, she assails the corrupt and educates the misguided with compassion, Swiftian wit, and complete literary authority.In this compelling collection, Pollitt skewers one hypocrite after another. She suggests, for example, that creationists be permitted to oppose the teaching of evolution only so long as they agree to forgo the benefits of the theory–such as flu vaccines. She gently wonders if those who denounced the decision to allow Terri Schiavo to die in peace would themselves be satisfied to be video-diagnosed by Senator Bill Frist. And in the title essay about fundamentalists’ antagonism toward sex education and STD prevention, she asks, “What is it with these right-wing Christians? Faced with a choice between sex and death, they choose death every time.”Pollitt is one of the most eloquent and persuasive voices in American political conversation of this or any other era, and Virginity or Death! Is a marvelous demonstration of her keen insight, mordant humor, and sense of justice.“Katha Pollitt has long and rightly been hailed for her brilliance, wit, and great insight into politics, social issues, and women’s rights. As with all of her work, I am enormously grateful for Virginity or Death!, and also deeply jealous.”–Anne Lamott, author of Traveling Mercies

What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America


Peggy Pascoe - 2009
    Peggy Pascoe demonstrates how these laws were enacted and applied not just in the South but throughout most of the country, in the West, the North, and the Midwest. Beginning in the Reconstruction era, when the term miscegenation first was coined, she traces the creation of a racial hierarchy that bolstered white supremacy and banned the marriage of Whites to Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, and American Indians as well as the marriage of Whites to Blacks. She ends not simply with the landmark 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia, in which the Supreme Court finally struck down miscegenation laws throughout the country, but looks at the implications of ideas of colorblindness that replaced them. What Comes Naturally is both accessible to the general reader and informative to the specialist, a rare feat for an original work of history based on archival research.

A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America


Darlene Clark Hine - 1998
    At the greatest moments and in the cruelest times, black women have been a crucial part of America's history.  Now, the inspiring history of black women in America is explored in vivid detail by two leaders in the fields of African American and women's history.A Shining Thread of Hope chronicles the lives of black women from indentured servitude in the early American colonies to the cruelty of antebellum plantations, from the reign of lynch law in the Jim Crow South to the triumphs of the Civil Rights era, and it illustrates how the story of black women in America is as much a tale of courage and hope as it is a history of struggle.  On both an individual and a collective level, A Shining Thread of Hope reveals the strength and spirit of black women and brings their stories from the fringes of American history to a central position in our understanding of the forces and events that have shaped this country.