Note: this would be a much better review if I hadn't read the book months ago. Mixed feelings. I think they present some credible evidence that humansNote: this would be a much better review if I hadn't read the book months ago. Mixed feelings. I think they present some credible evidence that humans may be rather more like bonobos than like our other primate cousins, and that monogamy is far from the only possibility (or even the norm) for many animals, and that it's not the norm in many human cultures. And they do pick apart some of the more heinously implausible evolutionary psychology theories about human sexuality. That being said, they cite some questionable studies about human sexuality themselves (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/... for instance. Note that the senior researcher has done some highly questionable and controversial work http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J_Michae... ). I don't question the idea that many women can be aroused by a broad variety of sexual imagery so much as the idea that this is some kind of innate trait, rather than one fostered by our culture, and I had similar questions about several other ideas discussed in the later part of the book-- if you're going to assert that monogamy isn't innate, why assume these other aspects of sexuality are?
Anyway, interesting read, they are good about citing and footnoting properly (unlike many works intended for a more popular audience), presents ideas that are worth thinking about, but I am skeptical of a number of their conclusions. ...more
Expansion of author's dissertation on the subject. Pretty interesting, quick read (although okay, I skimmed some of her basic explanations of what ethExpansion of author's dissertation on the subject. Pretty interesting, quick read (although okay, I skimmed some of her basic explanations of what ethnography is, as I already know that). She used interviews and participant observation to explore the lives of women new to a modern Orthodox congregation (Lincoln Square Synagogue in NYC) and a residential institute run by the Lubavitch Hasidim (Bais Chana in St. Paul, MN). The most interesting part was the narratives professional women had about the restrictions these traditions involved, and moreover what the few women who considered themselves feminists thought. I'd ideally have liked to see a follow-up a couple of years later to see where the women she interviewed were on their journeys, but obviously that's not very practical in a dissertation (phds take too long already), so I'll see what else the author has written. I wouldn't mind reading something specifically on the Lubavitch community in Crown Heights, either.
Incidentally, I kind of wish I'd read this before I read _The Yiddish Policemen's Union_ as it would have provided much useful context (the yiddish was easy, having enough context for the orthodox characters' mindset and traditions wasn't)-- between what I already knew and what Davidman took the time to explain in text, I barely needed to look at the glossary or the internets (and then I usually found that she explained those things later on). In any case, if you're looking for further information on orthodox Jewish traditions and why they attract some people, this might be a good choice.
confidential to julian: you might consider adding this to your list o' books on religion to read. you might find it pretty interesting. ...more
I read this after it came up at a Wiscon panel this year. Interesting, although perhaps it's a bit dated at this point, and I definitely noticed someI read this after it came up at a Wiscon panel this year. Interesting, although perhaps it's a bit dated at this point, and I definitely noticed some things that I thought should be discussed based on what the panelists were interested in talking about (for instance, there's some discussion of setting limits, but not much talk about what happens when limits are reached, though this would seem appropriate given all the discussion of Goffman and framing of situations, and breaking the frame is discussed in other contexts. Also, I'm not sure the word "safeword" was ever mentioned-- this would seem to be important?). I'd also like to see some of this material explored by folks less attached to fairly rigid notions of gender roles-- with the exception of Pat Califa's piece, the work was fairly conventional in this respect. I might see what these other people have written lately. ...more
I must confess I found this quite confusing. This may be largely due to reading it in a course that didn't really give the proper background for the wI must confess I found this quite confusing. This may be largely due to reading it in a course that didn't really give the proper background for the work. I may give it another try after I read a big stack of Judith Butler and otherwise pick up some more context... ...more
Highly readable, interesting work. The author takes the novel approach of incorporating some creative writing into this nonfiction work-- each chapterHighly readable, interesting work. The author takes the novel approach of incorporating some creative writing into this nonfiction work-- each chapter begins with a piece of a sort of play about the material. She also draws on Alice in Wonderland in some intriguing ways-- the tea party, of course...
You'll never look at tea in quite the same way again. ...more