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- Language, Literacy, and Pedagogy in Postindustrial Societies: The Case of Black Academic Underachievement (Routledge Research in Education).
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This new homonormative order fits within a gender order in which direct male domination of women is camouflaged in superficially gender-neutral institutions. However, neoliberalism in many ways undermines the direct domination of wives and daughters by husbands and fathers Brenner , pp. Women can increasingly be found exercising authority as corporate managers, lawyers and top officials Hennessy , pp.
This is reflected in the contradictory impact of neoliberal policies on women. The institution of marriage has also been reshaped. On the one hand, the state still uses marital status to channel many benefits to couples, especially prosperous ones: life insurance benefits and exemptions from capital gains and inheritance taxes. On the other hand, when it comes to welfare and unemployment benefits, the neoliberal state increasingly evades its responsibilities by penalising couples — sometimes married couples, sometimes all couples, but always disproportionately working-class, low-income and poor people.
As the forms of gender oppression have changed under neoliberalism in class-differentiated ways, so have the forms of heteronormativity. On the one hand, market expansion has been good news for some middle-class LGBT people. Not that life can ever be wholly pain-free for LGBT people in a society where exclusively heterosexual desire is the norm; in a heteronormative society every LGBT person must confront a moment of acknowledging difference, which can often be traumatic.
But the discomfort of difference was softened among some middle-class and upper-working-class social layers that prospered in the s and s, especially but not only in imperialist countries. The combination of commercialisation with growing tolerance for some normalised gay identities has facilitated the imposition of norms that define some LGBT people as at home in society and excludes or marginalises others. The new gay normality has not been absent from Latin America, South Africa and East and South Asia, but it has been especially bounded there by class and geography.
To the extent that lesbians and gays were increasingly defined as people who inhabited a certain economic space went to certain bars, bathhouses and discos and patronised certain businesses , they were more ghettoised than before, more clearly demarcated from a majority defined as straight.
As the decline of Fordism put welfare state programmes under pressure, a renewed emphasis on the centrality of the family put a brake on the relaxation of gender norms that had characterised the s. This conservative turn in the broader society was accompanied by a shift among gay men away from the androgynous imagery and occasional gender-bending of the early s.
Within the medical establishment, increased willingness to accept homosexuality as not intrinsically pathological went together with a sharper focus on gender nonconformity, distinguishing and isolating trans people from gays. Alongside demarcation as a stable minority, growing gender conformity and the separation of gay from trans, a fourth feature of the new gay normality has been the increasing incorporation of some lesbians and gay men into the imperialist nation.
Tourism embodies the contradictions in the lives of people who spend much of their waking lives working for wages, which they value largely for the ability they earn to escape. Casualisation of wage labour and the growth of the informal sector in dependent countries under neoliberal globalisation have included the growth of the sex trade.
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Economic internationalisation has included the rise of international sex tourism, in two directions: the arrival of tourists from imperialist countries taking advantage of cheap sex for sale, and the arrival in imperialist countries of sex workers. Undocumented immigrants form a high proportion of sex workers in much of Europe; trans people form a high proportion of same-sex sex workers almost everywhere.
Wholesale exclusion of trans people from most sectors of formal employment is one reason for this. And the tourist industry, which disproportionately targets high-income travellers, is increasingly central to many economies, reinforcing the centrality of luxury consumption in general under neoliberalism.
In an imperial order, gender identity and sexuality are closely linked, especially for men. Masculinity has been defined in feudal and capitalist societies for centuries by a positively valued propensity for violence, whether in the military or in sublimated form in sport. Incompetence at fighting and sport and exclusion from the military were therefore markers of insufficiently masculine men — while atypical competence, athleticism and military careers were markers of insufficiently feminine women.
Exclusion from the military, and therefore from the ranks of full male citizens, has often been one of the last forms of discrimination to fall. The demand to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation in the military has been a constituent element of a new, nationalist homonormativity.
The US too has seen the rise of a homonationalist gay right.
Bush administration by Condoleezza Rice. Imperialist ideology has also always had a sexual dimension. The novelty is that it now has a same-sex dimension. A fifth, and increasingly central, defining feature of the new gay normality is the role of same-sex marriage. The call for these rights is a demand for equality, but also in some cases for equal class and racial privilege. Neoliberal cutbacks in social services, by privatising the provision of basic needs, have been restoring the centrality of the family unit to the social reproduction of labour — in classed ways.
Legal same-sex marriage or partnership can in this context secure not only much-needed benefits for same-sex couples generally, but also specific advantages for middle-class and more secure working-class lesbians and gays. One Canadian study showed that legal recognition of same-sex partnerships resulted on average in higher incomes for high-income LGBT people and lower incomes for low-income ones.
This pattern also correlates with race Barker , p. The restriction of state recognition of same-sex relationships to couples produces new forms of exclusion: for those most dependent on the welfare state in countries like Britain, Germany the Netherlands, legal recognition of their partnerships can lead to cuts in benefits Browne ; Woltersdorff , p.
Consolidating partnerships can reinforce inequality within couples as well as between them: a study in San Francisco in the s demonstrated the reality of an unequal division of labour in the home Barker , pp. In general, as the number of children being raised in households headed by same-sex couples rises, same-sex marriage and adoption can serve to legitimise and regulate the growing role of lesbian and gay couples in social production, consumption and reproduction.
While neoliberalism has created the conditions for the new, specific constellation of gay normality, the antisocial impact of neoliberalism has given many LGBT people reasons to question gay normality. Alienation has mounted among less privileged LGBT people from the commercial gay scene. Alternative scenes have proliferated. Within some of these alternative scenes, a queer identity has coalesced that is seen at least in part as in opposition to homonormativity.
The queer scene crosses class divides: there are certainly middle-class self-identified queers, including a disproportionate number of students and academics. But the class atmosphere of the queer scene, while not exactly working-class, is different from that of the commercial scene. The prevalent queer rejection of overconsumption, respectability and conformity puts queers in opposition to neoliberal gay normality.
And queer spaces offer more room to, or at least solidarity with, LGBT people who have lost out under neoliberalism, thus forming an oppositional subculture of gender and other queers. Various sexually dissident communities, such as increasingly militant trans people in much of Latin America and South and Southeast Asia, have become more visible and vocal.
The queer generation has tended particularly to play with issues of gender, inequality and power difference in other ways that expose their artificiality and facilitate their subversion.
The contradictions of gender and power have been particularly visible in transgender and gender-bending subcultures since the s. Queer-identified trans people do not necessarily reject hormone treatments or surgery, for example, but they can be selective in what they do or do not choose for themselves. The current crisis of capitalism can be used and is being used to restore a utopian dimension to LGBT politics.
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Yet a queer anti-capitalist alternative has still barely begun to take shape. Even today, when neoliberal capitalism as it took shape in recent decades is clearly in crisis, LGBT organisations are still rarely forging strong links with the labour movement or the political left. That could hardly be expected while the left and labour globally are still in such deep disarray, and even new activist currents that have emerged in response to the crisis, like insurgent young Arabs, the Spanish indignad s and Occupy, are so embattled.
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