Sororophobia: Differences Among Women in Literature and Culture
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Sororophobia: Differences Among Women in Literature and Culture

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Description

Helena Michie takes the notion of 'otherness' as it has traditionally been used by Simone de Beauvoir and other feminists to designate the space between men and women, and transcribes it instead to the places between and among women. Its goal is to describe women's relations to each other and how these relations have been textually and culturally represented.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 139.7 x 215.9 x 15.5mm | 452.86g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • halftones
  • 0195073878
  • 9780195073874

Back cover copy

This book looks at how differences among women have been textually represented at a variety of historical moments and in a variety of cultural contexts ranging from Victorian mainstream fiction to African-American mulatto novels, from late twentieth-century lesbian communities to contemporary country music. Michie uses the term "sororophobia" to describe the negotiation of sameness and difference, of identity and separation, among women of the same generation, encompassing the desire for, and at the same time, the recoil from identification with, other women. Arguing that the generic "woman" suggests a connection between women which transcends race, class, and other differences, she shows how it also translates all too easily into a master-category of gender which obscures or denies the basic differences between individual women. Exploring how the language of feminism has contributed to the confusion through a dependence on the concept of the family--in its entanglement with the figures of the sister and mother--Michie calls attention to the problematic metaphor of a literal sisterhood of accord, and advocates a move outside the family to look at a figure excluded from that prescribed structure, the "other woman". She argues for the centrality to feminism of a paradigm that moves beyond celebrations of identity and sisterhood to a more nuanced notion of women's relations with other women which may include such uncomfortable concepts as envy, jealousy, and competition as well as more institutionalized ideas of difference such as race and class. Each of the chapters deals with a different impersonation or embodiment of the other woman and with the process by which that otherness iscreated. Chapters on literature are interspersed with "inter-chapters" on the choreography of sameness and difference among women in popular culture, Sororophobia represents a fresh perspective on the complex and shifting relations between women's attempts to identify with other women and their often simultaneous desire to establish and retain difference.show more

Review quote

`...she has collected some wonderfully apt examples of the trope of sisterhood from several melodramatic stage versions of Jane Eyre, and her brief essays on the mother-daughter country music duo known as the Judds and on the Olympic figure-skating competition are spirited and shrewd. ... Michie has a keen eye for rhetorical slippages, ... and she can juxtapose bits of heterogeneous evidence to telling effect, ... offers a salutary corrective to the wishful inclusiveness of some feminist theorising.' Ruth Bernard Yeazell, The London Review of Books 'To sum up: I admire the readings that form the core of the book; they are subtle, strong, nuanced, full of fine discriminations. I also admire the general ambition of the book, its large theme and polemic about the need for recognizing differences among women and the ways in which the metaphors feminists have used may have obstructed the project. This argument will gain the book a wide and enthusiastic audience.' Margaret Homans, Yale Universityshow more

About Helena Michie

OUP author of The Flesh Made Wordshow more

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