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"Gender systems pervade and regulate human lives--in law courts and operating rooms, ballparks and poker clubs, hair-dressing salons and kitchens, classrooms and playgroups. . . . Exactly how gender works varies from culture to culture, and from historical period to historical period, but gender is very rarely not at work. Nor does gender operate in isolation. It is linked to other social structures and sources of identity. " So write women's studies pioneer Catharine R. Stimpson and anthropologist Gilbert Herdt in their introduction to Critical Terms for the Study of Gender, laying out the wide-ranging nature of this interdisciplinary and rapidly changing field. The sixth in the series of "Critical Terms" books, this volume provides an indispensable introduction to the study of gender through an exploration of key terms that are a part of everyday discourse in this vital subject. Following Stimpson and Herdt's careful account of the evolution of gender studies and its relation to women's and sexuality studies, the twenty-one essays here cast an appropriately broad net, spanning the study of gender and sexuality across the humanities and social sciences. Written by a distinguished group of scholars, each essay presents students with a history of a given term--from bodies to utopia--and explains the conceptual baggage it carries and the kinds of critical work it can be made to do. The contributors offer incisive discussions of topics ranging from desire, identity, justice, and kinship to love, race, and religion that suggest new directions for the understanding of gender studies. The result is an essential reference addressed to students studying gender in very different disciplinary contexts.
Finalist for 2010 LGBT Anthology Award from the Lambda Literary AwardsUnwed teen mothers, abortion, masturbation, pornography, gay marriage, sex trafficking, homosexuality, and HIV are just a few in a long line of issues that have erupted into panics. These sexual panics spark moral crusades and campaigns, defining and shaping how we think about sexual and reproductive rights. The essays in Moral Panics, Sex Panics focus on case studies ranging from sex education to AIDS to race and the "down low," to illustrate how sexuality is at the heart of many political controversies. The contributors also reveal how moral and sexual panics have become a mainstay of certain kinds of conservative efforts to win elections and gain power in moral, social, and political arenas. Moral Panics, Sex Panics provides new and important insights into the role that key moral panics have played in social processes, arguing forcefully against the political abuse of sex panics and for the need to defend full sexual and reproductive rights.Contributors: Cathy J. Cohen, Diane DiMauro, Gary W. Dowsett, Janice M. Irvine, Carole Joffe, and Saskia Eleonora Wieringa.
In this update of a case study of sexuality in the Sambia tribe of Papua New Guinea's Eastern Highlands, Herdt (human sexuality studies, San Francisco State U.) discusses changes in this Micronesian culture since his original fieldwork in the 1970s. Drawing on subsequent field trips during which he made a film, he studies homoerotism in secret initiation rites of young boys, and parallels between the Sambia and gay-identified US males.
Because homoerotic relations can be found in so many cultures, Gilbert Herdt argues that we should think of these relations as part of the human condition. This new cross-cultural study of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals around the world, Same Sex, Different Cultures provides a unique perspective on maturing and living within societies, both historical and contemporary, that not only acknowledge but also incorporate same-gender desires and relations. Examining what it means to organize "sex" in a society that lacks a category for "sex," or to love someone of the same gender when society does not have a "homosexual" or "gay/lesbian" role, Herdt provides provocative new insights in our understanding of gay and lesbians lives. Accurate in both its scientific conceptions and wealth of cultural and historical material, examples range from the ancient Greeks and feudal China and Japan to the developing countries of Africa, India, Mexico, Brazil, and Thailand, from a New Guinea society to contemporary U. S. culture, including Native Americans. For all of these peoples, homoerotic relations emerge as part of culture--and not separate from history or society. In many of these groups, loving or engaging in sexual relations is found to be the very basis of the local cultural theory of "human nature" and the mythological basis for the cosmos and the creation of society. The mistake of modern Western culture, Gilbert contends, is to continue the legalization of prejudice against lesbians and gays. In this light, the book addresses the issue of "universal" versus particular practices and reveals positive role models that embrace all aspects of human sexuality. Finally, it offers knowledge of the existence of persons who have loved and have been intimate sexually and romantically with the same gender in other lands through divergent cultural practices and social roles. The most important lesson to learn from this cross-cultural and historical study of homosexuality is that there is room for many at the table of humankind.
Gilbert Herdt is Director of the Program in Human Sexuality Studies at San Francisco State University, where he is also Professor of Human Sexuality Studies and Anthropology.
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