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This was an interesting book and the individual oral histories are illuminating and often quite touching, but I was disappointed there wasn't more conThis was an interesting book and the individual oral histories are illuminating and often quite touching, but I was disappointed there wasn't more context (historical, sociological, anthropological) offered by the editors. There is nothing here to help the reader understand the historical background of kathoey, the economic and social experiences of the ladyboys interviewed, or even why these particular individuals were chosen (beyond some of them having been employed by the same clubs in Patpong).
Many, if not most, of the women featured here come from great poverty but there is no real acknowledgment from the editors that this is the case, and there seems to be no effort made on their part to find kathoey in other social strata or to examine how poverty and social class might shape how individual kathoey and kathoey as a gender are viewed. Are kathoey from higher economic classes simply viewed as "women" or do they not exist as a defined group at all? Are there housewife kathoey, office worker kathoey, school teacher kathoey, etc. or do contemporary Thai social mores insist that these women be confined to the entertainment, hospitality, and sex work professions? You won't find answers to any of these questions in this book, because none of these questions is ever broached by the editors and the women interviewed are all from a relatively narrow social and geographical group.
These women have opened themselves up and courageously offered their stories to the editors and to us; I think it's a real shame the editors did not do more to help give them a specific voice and place within Thai society....more
This isn't a "bad" book per se, but it's curiously pointless. While Blank sets out to limn the history of heterosexuality as a concept, what she reallThis isn't a "bad" book per se, but it's curiously pointless. While Blank sets out to limn the history of heterosexuality as a concept, what she really ends up doing at great length and to little new effect, is to write about the legal and social concepts of marriage (companionate and otherwise) and the cultural history of dating. None of this is fresh, none of this has not been done dozens of times before decades before, most more thoroughly and from a more deeply informed historical and/or philosophical perspective. None of this illuminates our current understanding of what's "heterosexual" and what's "homosexual". In fact, beyond the brief personal revelations that open and close the volume, there's virtually nothing here I haven't read many, many times over.
I guess I just can't imagine who's the audience for this book. Anyone seriously interested in the subject of sexuality, sexual/gender identity, and the history of how society and individuals assign labels is not going to find anything fresh, interesting, or particularly useful here. And those who aren't especially interested or knowledgeable are probably not going to read or seek out this book. Sooo? ...more