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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Rethinking Gender and Therapy: Inner World, Outer World, and the Developing Identity of Women edited by Susannah Izzard and Nicola Barden (Open University Press) How can women forge an identity for themselves against the backdrop of changing definitions of gender and sexuality? What has psychoanalytic thought to offer understandings of gender development? Can therapists draw upon a fuller picture of women's internal and external influences?
Rethinking Gender and Therapy brings together the contributions of psychoanalytic theory and sociological analysis to explore the interrelationship between the inner and outer worlds which impact on a woman's identity.
How a woman's experience is depicted by and perceived by the society of which she is a part profoundly affects how she experiences herself. This book seeks to explore that dynamic in relation to key life stages (such as infancy, adolescence and older age) and in terms of key issues such as relationships, work and family. Rethinking Gender and Therapy moves beyond those past divisions between psychotherapy and sociological, gender and cultural studies that have fractured our understanding of the development of a personal gender identity. It will help therapists in their practices to draw upon a well-rounded and deeper analysis of women's inner and outer worlds.
Rethinking Gender and Therapy could be an important resource for all trainee and practicing therapists and counselors, for all students of gender, women's studies, counseling psychology, and psychotherapy, and for those involved in helping women across the caring professions.

Contents: Notes on contributors - Introduction - The development of gender identity - When do I know I'm a girl? The development of a sense of self as female in the early infant - Adolescence: possibilities and limitations; experience and expression - Women's friendships: theory and therapy - Women and work - Women and intimacy - Nine-tenths of the pleasure: sexual expression and the female body - Creating space: women without children - Emotional experiences of being a mother - An awfully big adventure: ageing, identity and gender - Afterword - References - Index.

Sexuality and Gender edited by Christine Williams and Arlene Stein (Blackwell Readers in Sociology: Blackwell) There is probably no area of social life today that is more explosive than sexuality. Every day seems to bring new questions about the meaning and place of sexuality in our lives. Open any newspaper or magazine and you are likely to encounter heated debates about teen pregnancy, sex education, pornog­raphy, abortion, AIDS, lesbian/gay rights, sexual harassment, and the adulterous affairs of politicians. Tabloid talk shows and popu­lar "reality" programs like Temptation Island and MTV's The Real World regularly push the limits of socially acceptable sexual expression.

Our public preoccupation with sexual di­versity is a relatively new phenomenon. Until quite recently in Western history, most people believed that human sexuality came in only one flavor: adult heterosexuality, in marriage, for reproductive purposes. Any­thing else was considered deviant, sick, anti­social, immoral, or criminal. Today, how­ever, the norm of the heterosexual married couple is no longer quite so taken for granted.

We are clearly living in a time of rapid social change regarding sexuality. What society considers reasonable or tolerable regarding sexual practices is undergoing re­markable transformation. Sociologists are today trying to understand these changes in the context of changes in the wider society.

In this volume we have gathered together some of the best articles about sexuality from a sociological perspective. The soci­ology of sexuality is an emerging area of research and courses on this topic are grow­ing in popularity. Unlike courses entitled "Sexuality" or "Human Sexuality," which have been taught for years in psychology and human development departments, the sociology of sexuality does not focus on biological and developmental processes, sexual behavior, and sexual function and dysfunction. Instead, sociologists are inter­ested in how society shapes the expression of sexual desire through cultural images and social institutions. We seek to understand how organizations like the family, religion, and the state shape and encourage some forms of sexual behavior and not others. We examine how society privileges or discrimin­ates against members of different groups on the basis of their sexual practices, and also how groups defend, resist, and/or challenge their treatment. Sociologists are particularly interested in how a person's race, gender, and social class are related to their beliefs and values relating to sexuality. Finally, we are interested in how and why norms about appropriate and inappropriate sexual be­havior change over time.

The tremendous volatility of the subject matter makes the sociology of sexuality an exciting field for research, but it also pre­sents several challenges. Since the very meaning of sexuality is debated today, basic terminology is often difficult to define. In general, the term "sexuality" refers to sexual behavior (what people do) and sexual desire (what people want to do and what they fantasize about doing). The term "sexual" in everyday speech refers almost exclusively to genital activity and its associated fanta­sies, but it can include any sensual experi­ence that has erotic meaning for the individual. "Sex" can refer to two things: (1) sexual behavior, consisting of the acts that people engage in to achieve pleasure. (2) Sex also refers to the anatomical and reproduct­ive differences that men and women are born with, or develop. Thus, people often talk about "sex differences" referring to the typically dimorphous characteristics of our biology; men's penises and testicles; women's vaginas and ovaries. As many of the articles in this collection suggest, however, our understanding of sex differences is shaped in part by "gender." Gender refers to the cultural meanings, social roles, and personality traits associated with sex differences. This is the social (as opposed to the biological) aspect of being a man or a woman. Our society traditionally has insisted that there are only two "sexes" ‑ male and female ‑ and only two corresponding "genders" ‑ masculine and feminine. Today, however, there is a greater recognition tha these terms (sex and gender) do not necessarily overlap in reality. Men can be feminine and women can be masculine, and most people do not conform entirely to eithe designation. Nevertheless our expectatio that men should be masculine and wome feminine sometimes obscures the variatio that occurs in nature, and limits our collect ive ability to recognize and imagine alterntive possibilities.

The final term important for the soci logical study of sexuality is "sexual orientation," sometimes called sexual identity. This refers to a person's preferred sexual partner: a man or a woman, or either. The terms homosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, and heterosexual all refer to categories of sexual identity. Not surprisingly, these are also contested terms. They each have differ­ent meanings, historical connotations, and political implications. Some people argue that sexual identity is a fixed feature of our personality, and others maintain that it is more fluid and changeable. Exploring the‑ connections between sexual identity and gender identity is one of the central goals of this book,

The articles in this collection explore these themes from a variety of perspectives, but they all share a common respect for tolerance and diversity. Society will always shape sexuality, but we hope that greater awareness of the patterning of sexual life will inspire efforts to achieve more equality and social justice in our collective pursuit of sexual happiness.

The Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender Role by Robert F. Bornstein, Joseph M. Masling (American Psychological Association) Few aspects of psychoanalytic theory are as misunderstood as psychoanalytic models of gender and gender role. The theory has evolved considerably since Freud's time, and contempo­rary object‑relations and self‑psychology per­spectives contrast sharply with earlier work in this area. Chapters in The Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender Role, the final volume in the Empirical Studies in Psychoanalytic Theories series, review cutting‑edge empirical research on psychoanalytic theories of child development, defense and coping, unconscious mental pro­cessing, normal personality functioning, and psychopathology. These elegant, integrative essays not only summarize a tremendous amount of research on this topic but also set the stage for a reinvigorated psychoanalytic under­standing of gender and gender roles during the first decades of the 21st century.

Studs, Tools, and the Family Jewels: Metaphors Men Live by by Peter F. Murphy (University of Wisconsin Press) reveals the insidious effects of the language men use to speak about manhood.

Peter F. Murphy's purpose in this book is not to shock but rather to educate, provoke discussion, and engender change. Looking at the sexual metaphors that are so pervasive in American culture--jock, tool, shooting blanks, gang bang, and others even more explicit--he argues that men are trapped and damaged by language that constantly intertwines sexuality and friendship with images of war, machinery, sports, and work.

These metaphors men live by, Murphy contends, reinforce the view that relationships are tactical encounters that must be won, because the alternative is the loss of manhood. The macho language with which men cover their fear of weakness is a way of bonding with other men. The implicit or explicit attacks on women and gay men that underlie this language translate, in their most extreme forms, into actual violence. Murphy also believes, however, that awareness of these metaphorical power plays is the basis for behavioral change: "How we talk about ourselves as men can alter the way we live as men."

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