DYKE LIFE by Karla Jay


From Growing Up to Growing Old, a Celebration of the Lesbian Experience
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 Although loosely organized, this collection of writings on lesbian life is striking in its intellectual and experiential diversity. Jay (English and Women's Studies/Pace Univ.) offers a window into a wide range of lesbian experiences and, more important, some analyses not often heard. Essays explore lesbian relationships to families of origin, sex, gendered roles, parenting, health issues, midlife, marriage, aging, race, and the ethics of outing. Two complex and well-argued entries call for more flexible thinking about butch/femme roles, while a charming and equally convincing essay by LeslÇa Newman celebrates her traditional butch/femme relationship. Marcia Munson brings some much-needed common sense to the fervor over lesbian safer sex: ``Always fasten your seat belt while driving to or from a sexual encounter,'' she advises. ``You're far more likely to die in a car crash than from an STD you might get from a woman.'' Marny Hall explores the role of the imagination in lesbian sex livesand ends up fantasizing about one of the women she interviewed for the chapter. In ``Black Lace Hairbow,'' Greta Gaard articulately reflects on the way getting involved with a man complicated her femme lesbian identity. Short sidebars scattered throughout are among the liveliest pieces in the collection: E.J. Graff's on her commitment ceremony; Amanda Kovattana's on life as a ``lesbian vampire''a seducer of straight women; and a piece by novelist Mary Meigs on romance in her old age. Unfortunately, the schema is haphazard, and it is often unclear why a particular essay falls under a given theme: Why, for instance, are articles about lesbian youth, baby boomers, and aging lumped under the heading ``Relating to Others''? The essays themselves, however, are both entertaining and thoughtful.

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1995
ISBN: 0-465-03907-3
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1995