Not much new here—at least for female readers—but should provide women’s-studies classes with points for discussion. (16 pp....

RAPUNZEL’S DAUGHTERS

WHAT WOMEN’S HAIR TELLS US ABOUT WOMEN’S LIVES

A sociologist looks at why hair matters so much and what our concerns about hair have to say about who we are, as well as who we hope to be.

In researching her subject, Weitz (Sociology/Arizona State; ed., The Politics of Women’s Bodies, not reviewed) held two focus groups with women over 50 and two with teens—one of heterosexuals, one of both lesbians and bisexuals—and she interviewed 74 girls and women varying in age, ethnicity, social class, religion, sexual orientation, and, of course, hair color and style. After an all-too-brief introductory chapter on the history of women’s hair, she turns to these conversations to examine what they reveal about the role hair plays at various stages of life, from childhood to old age. With liberal use of quotes, she demonstrates how young girls are taught to value hair, how the media affect teenagers’ ideas about appearance, and how they use their hairstyles to explore their identities and make statements about their desire to fit in or stand out from the crowd. Subsequent chapters explore how hair figures in women’s intimate relationships, sometimes becoming a battleground for power struggles, and how women adopt certain styles to compete in the job market. Weitz also looks at the camaraderie provided by hair salons, where women develop warm relationships with their stylists and with other women. Women who have lost their hair through illness share their feelings about baldness, revealing the impact that hair loss often has on one’s self-image and self-esteem. Similarly, women whose hair has faded to gray or is thinning out discuss how these changes of aging affect their perceptions of themselves and the different ways they cope or elect not to cope with them. Weitz acknowledges the pleasure hair gives girls and women, but she is deeply concerned about the cultural expectations about female appearance that lead to obsessions about hair. Her aim is to free girls and women from what she calls “the bonds of the beauty culture,” and her final chapter, aptly titled “No More Bad Hair Days,” offers some advice on achieving this goal.

Not much new here—at least for female readers—but should provide women’s-studies classes with points for discussion. (16 pp. b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-374-24082-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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