Review forthcoming in Publishers Weekly. Investigative journalist Eileen Markey, with the support of subject Maura Clarke's family, has written a deepReview forthcoming in Publishers Weekly. Investigative journalist Eileen Markey, with the support of subject Maura Clarke's family, has written a deeply-researched biography of Sister Maura Clarke, a Maryknoll nun who was killed along with three other U.S. church workers in El Salvador in 1980. Although one of approximately ten thousand murders that year in the war-torn country, the churchwomen's politically-motivated assassinations made headlines in the United States and brought attention to U.S. foreign policy in the region. Markey steps back from Sister Maura's death and asks instead how her faith-informed social justice work shaped her life. A powerful and difficult biographical narrative, the book is strongest on the geopolitics of missionary work while sometimes falling down on its understanding of the long history of social justice activism within the Christian tradition. (That is, I found myself wondering why the author found it so damn difficult to understand why a "nice girl" from the Rockaways died on a road in El Salvador.)...more
Review forthcoming in Publishers Weekly. A passionate and well-researched work advocating the economic, environmental, and social value of historic prReview forthcoming in Publishers Weekly. A passionate and well-researched work advocating the economic, environmental, and social value of historic preservation in the United States. Meeks (president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation) and co-author Murphy draw on the Trust's own data, case studies, and half a century of urban studies scholarship to argue forcefully that continued use of older buildings is resource efficient and strengthens communities through maintaining ties to place. Meeks and Murphy pay particular attention to the importance of affordability and cultural diversity, and the role of historic preservation in addressing structural inequality. An engaging and policy-oriented read....more
Today, reorientation therapies — a collection of practices that seek to shift a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual toward heterosexual — exisToday, reorientation therapies — a collection of practices that seek to shift a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual toward heterosexual — exist on the fringes of established scientific communities, broadly understood to be both ineffective and often also harmful to patients. Yet seventy years ago, in the postwar period, reorientation therapies were considered to be a cornerstone of treatment for those experiencing homosexual desires or engaging in homosexual acts. How, then, did a collection of practices once considered standard practice get pushed to the edges (if not off the edge) of legitimate scientific understanding? And, perhaps more importantly, how did the journey of reorientation therapy from the center to the margins of psychiatric care in the United States change how Americans understand the nature of human sexuality?
Waidzunas sets out to answer this question using a blend of sociological, historical, and queer theoretical methods. Drawing on archival research and interviews with key figures, he traces how the political agitation of gay-affirmative and anti-gay social movements struggled within and around the mental health professions succeeded over the course of half a century in redrawing the boundaries of accepted scientific knowledge. In response to the reorientation community’s belief that sexual orientation can be changed, gay-affirmative therapists and activists have increasingly relied on notions of fixity: the notion that one’s body carries an innate true orientation that can be measured and remains stable throughout one’s life even as personal identity and community affiliation may change. While effective in marginalizing reorientation practices hostile to homosexual desires, the notion of a fixed sexual orientation scientifically fraught (how to measure it?) and problematically male-centered (most assertions of sexual fixity are rooted in studies involving penises and porn). Ultimately — without discounting the harms done to individuals in ex-gay therapy — The Straight Line challenges gay-affirming readers to re-examine their assumptions that the demise of reorientation science is an untempered win for LGBT rights. Across four thematic and roughly chronological chapters, Waidzunas traces the rise and fall of the “reorientation regime” in the U.S., with a fifth chapter coda at the end that touches on reorientation’s enduring global relevance. ...
This book explores the political and religious languages of sexual morality, and how they both intertwined and diverged around the AIDS epidemic durinThis book explores the political and religious languages of sexual morality, and how they both intertwined and diverged around the AIDS epidemic during the 1980s and early 1990s. While Petro resists a simplistic narrative of right-wing, conservative (and homophobic) religious responses to AIDS, taking care to document more sex-positive responses, the political takeaway of this history is that sexual conservatism won in the face of moral panic and the fear of a newly-recognized and fatal disease. While early responses to the virus ranged across the spectrum of sexual morality, by the turn of the 20th century a conservative sexual ethic of monogamy and marriage had become the primary public health response to AIDS across the globe. Religious responses to AIDS, and their adaptation in the nominally secular realm of public health demonstrates how morality continues to be a central discourse in the debate over who gets to be a sexual citizen. Petro's book is a well-researched contribution to a rapidly-expanding bookshelf of texts exploring the intersection of sexuality and religion in the recent American past....more
Review forthcoming in Library Journal. Psychologist Corbett bears witness to the trial of Brandon McInerney for the murder of junior high school classReview forthcoming in Library Journal. Psychologist Corbett bears witness to the trial of Brandon McInerney for the murder of junior high school classmate Larry/Leticia King, exploring the psychological and social fault-lines of masculinity, racism, and anxieties around gender and sexual expression. Absent the voices of the two main players -- Leticia/Larry was dead and Brandon McInerney never told his own story in court or elsewhere --Corbett is left to piece together the psychology of McInerney's act and how the survivors made sense of it through trial testimony and interviews he conducted with many key players (adults and teens alike). This is a difficult read, with no easy resolution -- no ending to the story, after all, can bring the murdered child back from the dead. Particularly upsetting was the way in which McInerney's actions were normalized, even justified, in both the trial setting and within the community as an expected -- if extreme -- response to Larry/Leticia's explorations of a nascent transgender and/or queer self. The events of this story, taking place between roughly 2008-2011, remind us that despite increased acceptance of (certain kinds of) gender and sexual variance in mainstream society, the majority of Americans are still extremely uncomfortable with non-normative gender expression, perhaps particularly in school settings, and that their discomfort places queer, particularly black and brown, children at daily risk of violence....more
This delightfully cheeky book aims to introduce queer, trans, and questioning youth to the wild world of LGBTQIAA etc. desires and identities. With peThis delightfully cheeky book aims to introduce queer, trans, and questioning youth to the wild world of LGBTQIAA etc. desires and identities. With personal stories drawn from across the English-speaking world, U.K. author Juno Dawson (she has changed her name since the book appeared) skillfully navigates between offering reassurance and information. She points out that having queer desires doesn't necessarily require you to self-identify using current terminology -- but that using those labels can help you find social communities and organizations that will support and connect you to people who share your experiences. I appreciated the overall sex-positive approach of the book, which provided good tips for both the physical and emotional navigation of sexual intimacy. This would be a great book to leave prominently available for the possibly-queer young person in your family, friendship circle, or local library....more
Review forthcoming at MedHum Fiction | Daily Dose. This is an intellectual and social history of the idea of masturbation ("the solitary vice") and thReview forthcoming at MedHum Fiction | Daily Dose. This is an intellectual and social history of the idea of masturbation ("the solitary vice") and the place of anti-masturbation rhetoric in sexual politics and sexuality education in mid-nineteenth century America. Focusing on the 1830-50s, April Haynes considers the place of anti-masturbation advice within the larger contexts of reform physiology, women's rights, and racial politics. With particular and skillful attention to the intersection of race and gender, Haynes considers how female activists used the specter of masturbation and (white and black) women's capacity for sexual self-control as one piece of their campaign for (sexual) citizenship. Beginning at an interracial moment within Evangelical reform circles, anti-masturbation activism eventually went mainstream in ways that replicated racial, gender, and class hierarchies in the form of white, elite women policing the bodies of marginalized populations -- youth, patients, prisoners, the poor. Documenting a little-studied chapter in the history of American sexual politics, Haynes work is perhaps most startling in how contemporary the political fault-lines she charts sometimes seem. Today, just as in the 1830s, Americans remain uncomfortable with expressions of sexual citizenship that fall outside the bounds of white, cisgendered heternormative partnership. The borderlands of that healthy sexuality may have shifted and expanded slightly, but our sexual fears have remained soberingly stable over nearly two centuries of social agitation....more