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Faeries, Bears, and Leathermen: Men in Community Queering the Masculine Paperback – 15 Jul 2008
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"This is a rich ethnography that tells us much about masculinity, effeminacy and the different sex that men get up to. It is a must for all gender-scholar bookshelves."--Times Higher Education
"Hennen masterfully weaves together data and theory, pressing against the limits of the gender and sexuality literature. Rejecting theoretical orthodoxy, Hennen is free to use his data to speak back to, expand upon and reject the current reigning ideas that constitute gender and sexuality studies. . . . Hennen's book is a winner. It is both emprically and conceptually rich, and at every turn informative, probing, analytically rigorous and provocative. It is also well written, free from the jargon-heavy, obstructionist writing style that characterizes much of the prose of the theorists with whom he engages. Hats off to Hennen."--Adam Isaiah Green "Canadian Journal of Sociology "
"The ethnographic and archival data create a strong piece of empirical work that pushes forward gender and sexuality research--particularly the intersections between the two--in new and insightful ways. . . .The style of writing, particularly in the ethnographic chapters, makes the book widely acessible to students. With Hennen's provocative arguments throughout the text, the book will certainly open up the discussion on a variety of topics about gender, sexuality, and the possibilities and mechanisms of social change."--Kristen Schilt "Sex Roles "
"There is an artistic elegance to Hennen's ability to provide a playful and ethnographically rich glimpse into the social worlds he travels through while at the same time adding to important theoretical debates in the sociologies of gender, sexuality, and queer theory."--Wayne H. Brekhus, University of Missouri-Columbia (02/14/2008)
"Hennen is the first to examine systematically the relationship between effeminacy and gay male culture and to show how this has influenced the collective identities and sexual practices of gay male communities. His history of the social construction of homosexuality as effeminate is absolutely brilliant, while his rich ethnographic account of the cultural and sexual practices of these three communities is vivid and raw, providing powerful evidence of the author's rapport with his subjects."-- (02/14/2008)
"Hennen utilizes vivid 'thick description' from his time spent in the field, as well as many illuminative excerpts from his interviewees, resulting in a fascinating, engrossing read. A most welcome addition to the growing body of research on men and masculinity, men's studies, and queer studies."--Choice
Over time, male homosexuality and effeminacy have become indelibly associated, sometimes even synonymous. In "Faeries, Bears, and Leathermen", Peter Hennen contends that this stigma of effeminacy exerts a powerful influence on gay subcultures. Through a comparative ethnographic analysis of three communities, Hennen explores the surprising ways that conventional masculinity is being collectively challenged, subverted, or perpetuated in contemporary gay male culture.Hennen's colorful study focuses on a trio of groups: the Radical Faeries, who parody effeminacy by playfully embracing it, donning prom dresses and glitter; the Bears, who strive to appear like "regular guys" and celebrate their larger, hairier bodies; and the Leathermen, who emulate hypermasculine biker culture, simultaneously paying homage to and undermining notions of manliness. Along with a historical analysis of the association between effeminacy and homosexuality, Hennen examines how this connection affects the groups' sexual practices. Ultimately, he argues, while all three groups adopt innovative approaches to gender issues and sexual pleasure, masculine norms continue to constrain members of each community.See all Product description
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
In reading this book, I was prepared to take a look inside each group, and see what they did, how and why they did it, and how they felt about being what they are.
In this, I was not disappointed. Why rate this book so low, then? I was NOT prepared to have this be a DOCTORAL DISSERTATION!
This book is fine for sociologists, or social scientists, or academics who want academic research and reasons for what makes these men tick. It is NOT for the general public - those of us who have MAYBE taken one Sociology class in college!
If I were still in college, and wanted to use this as a reference book for a Sociology paper, this would be a good reference. As a casual read, however, I've read better stereo manuals.
Somewhere, somehow, someone will of course disagree with me - that's fine. I hope you pass your Sociology Finals! As for me, I'll read my "Bear" magazine - at least IT has pictures!
What is immediately clear from reading Hennen's work is that he possesses the skills of the most gifted ethnographers, that is, the ability to see the broader social significance in the smallest of details. (If you want to know what the significance of "faerie drag," consult Chapter 3.) He is also a gifted writer. Unlike the dull prose of many academics, Hennen's writing is lively and vivid. You will not only see gender and sexuality everywhere when you are reading this book, but you will smile when you do because Hennen has such a great sense of humor. At the same time, this is a serious book and it makes important contributions to the the sociology of gender, sexuality, masculinities, and queer studies. (It has already received an honorable mention award for its contributions to the sociology of gender.) It would be a terrific book to use for undergraduate and graduate courses in these areas, but also of general interest to anyone who wants to learn more about these communities. Read it, you will not be disappointed!