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JANE WARD discusses her new book NOT GAY: SEX BETWEEN STRAIGHT WHITE MEN

Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men (New York University Press)

A straight white girl can kiss a girl, like it, and still call herself straight—her boyfriend may even encourage her. But can straight white guys experience the same easy sexual fluidity, or would kissing a guy just mean that they are really gay? 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 practice 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, dis-identification 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.

Praise for Not Gay

“Clear-eyed and unsqueamish, Not Gay defiantly insists that sex between contemporary American straight white men is in fact meaningful sex that can't—and shouldn't—just be hand-waved away. Jane Ward provides a timely and convincing corrective.” —Hanne Blank, author of Virgin: The Untouched History

Not Gay is nothing less than a breath of fresh air. This book is certain to change the way that we think about heterosexuality’s relations with the homoerotic.”—Roderick Ferguson, author of Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique

Jane Ward is associate professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at University of California Riverside, where she teaches courses in feminist, queer, and heterosexuality studies. Her published essays have focused on a broad range of topics including feminist pornography, queer parenting, gay pride festivals, HIV/AIDS organizing, same-sex marriage, and the social construction of heterosexuality. Her first book, Respectably Queer: Diversity Culture in LGBT Activist Organizations, was named by The Progressive magazine as a best book of 2008.  Her second book, Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men, will be released by New York University Press in July 2015.

Ward is founder of the feminist blog FeministPigs.com and cofounder, along with CJ Pascoe and Tey Meadow, of SocialInqueery.com. She cofounded the queer burlesque troupe “The Miracle Whips” in 2004 and founded the parenting collective “L.A. Genderqueer Parenting” in 2009, both based in Los Angeles.  She is also a baker, an urban gardener, and a parent to one human child, four cats, and eight chickens.

Event date: 
Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men (Sexual Cultures) Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781479825172
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: New York University Press - July 31st, 2015

Respectably Queer: Diversity Culture in Lgbt Activist Organizations Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780826516077
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Vanderbilt University Press - September 15th, 2008