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Not Gay thrusts deep into a world where straight guy-on-guy action is not a myth but a reality: There's fraternity and military hazing rituals, where new recruits are made to grab each other's penises and stick fingers up their fellow members' anuses; online personal ads, where straight men seek other straight men to masturbate with; and, last but not least, the long and clandestine history of straight men frequenting public restrooms for sexual encounters with other men. For Jane Ward, these sexual practices reveal a unique social space where straight white men can - and do - have sex with other straight white men; in fact, she argues, to do so reaffirms rather than challenges their gender and racial identity.
Ward illustrates that sex between straight white men allows them to leverage whiteness and masculinity to authenticate their heterosexuality in the context of sex with men. By understanding their same-sex sexual practices as meaningless, accidental, or even necessary, straight white men can perform homosexual contact in heterosexual ways. These sex acts are not slippages into a queer way of being or expressions of a desired but unarticulated gay identity. Instead, Ward argues, they reveal the fluidity and complexity that characterizes all human sexual desire. In the end, Ward's analysis offers a new way to think about heterosexuality - not as the opposite or absence of homosexuality but as its own unique mode of engaging in homosexual sex, a mode characterized by pretense, disidentification, and racial and heterosexual privilege.
Daring, insightful, and brimming with wit, Not Gay is a fascinating new take on the complexities of heterosexuality in the modern era.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Amazon Customer on 08-17-16
Surprising, insightful and entertaining. The author takes you on a journey though a subject that is unfortunately taboo. she dares to hit the head of the nail with the hammer and call out years of repression of sexual fluidity.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Alex Nelson on 12-16-16
Essential gender and sexually studies reading
I hadn't heard of this book when I came across it at an anthropology conference book sale but it was worth every penny. Although I am usually off put by social science and humanities research that is not based in original primary research, the studies discussed throughout this book were obscure enough to me to prevent the book from feeling merely theoretical. The author poses a fascinating challenge to our rigid thinking about male same sex sexual acts while also highlighting the role of race in American cultural constructions of male heterosexual it and homosexuality. By highlighting instances of same sex sexual acts between heterosexual men the author is able to constructively complicate our understanding of sexuality, masculinity and whiteness, all of which are rarely and inadequately theorized in the vast majority of gender studies literature in particular and the social sciences in general. Although it frequently felt like I was listening to a jargon laden conference talk, I believe this book can serve as excellent reading material for upper level undergraduates.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful