• My Butch Career: A Memoir

    Author(s):
    Pages: 288
    Illustrations: 25 illustrations
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
  • Cloth: $29.95 - In Stock
    978-1-4780-0129-4
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  • Acknowledgments  ix
    Introduction  1
    1. A Hard Left Fist  18
    2. A Writer's Inheritance  33
    3. Manhattan Tomboy  56
    4. California Trauma  72
    5. Baby Butch  81
    6. Anthropology of the Closet  102
    7. Lesbian Feminist New York  119
    8. The Island of Women  160
    9. In-Between Dyke  183
    10. Paris France  198
    11. Butch Revisited  237
    Notes  249
    Bibliography  261
    Index  265
  • "Newton is not afraid to get personal and offer her mistakes, personality development, and failed relationships for contemplation. After decades of personal and professional struggle, Newton finds a scholarly community in an evolved culture and helps to create the academic study of gender and sexuality. This book is simultaneously a memoir and an exemplar of this important field."

    "In the tradition of the best memoirs, it is chattily engaging, historically illuminating, and deeply, provocatively ruminative. . . . My Butch Career feels intoxicatingly, palpably real: It’s a story we can reach out and touch and one we can also situate ourselves in, even if we’re decades younger than the 78-year-old Newton. What makes My Butch Career so compelling is that while writing about herself, Newton is also examining her milieu with the eye of the cultural anthropologist she became. The story she tells is as much our story as it is hers."

    Reviews

  • "Newton is not afraid to get personal and offer her mistakes, personality development, and failed relationships for contemplation. After decades of personal and professional struggle, Newton finds a scholarly community in an evolved culture and helps to create the academic study of gender and sexuality. This book is simultaneously a memoir and an exemplar of this important field."

    "In the tradition of the best memoirs, it is chattily engaging, historically illuminating, and deeply, provocatively ruminative. . . . My Butch Career feels intoxicatingly, palpably real: It’s a story we can reach out and touch and one we can also situate ourselves in, even if we’re decades younger than the 78-year-old Newton. What makes My Butch Career so compelling is that while writing about herself, Newton is also examining her milieu with the eye of the cultural anthropologist she became. The story she tells is as much our story as it is hers."

  • “In My Butch Career Esther Newton takes her readers through her chaotic family history, the uncharted territory of coming to terms with an identity that is far outside the norms for her generation, and the transforming effects that new social movements had on her. Bringing personalities, scenes, conversations, and relationships to life, Newton has written a book that is powerful, gripping, and immensely readable.” — John D’Emilio

    “Esther Newton's sharp insights into her developing consciousness are sometimes so precise and revealing that they take my breath away. Her wit gives her personal traumas in a hostile society universal meaning, making her pain and pleasure available to all, while her reflections on the interconnections of gender, sex, and feminism in love-making remain fresh. Capturing the multiple layers of identity and examining how social forces shape our lives, My Butch Career is absolutely unique in the way it explores women's desire as both personal and social. I know of no other memoir like it.” — Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy

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  • Description

    During her difficult childhood, Esther Newton recalls that she “became an anti-girl, a girl refusenik, caught between genders,” and that her “child body was a strong and capable instrument stuffed into the word ‘girl.’” Later, in early adulthood, as she was on her way to becoming a trailblazing figure in gay and lesbian studies, she “had already chosen higher education over the strongest passion in my life, my love for women, because the two seemed incompatible.”

    In My Butch Career Newton tells the compelling, disarming, and at times sexy story of her struggle to write, teach, and find love, all while coming to terms with her identity during a particularly intense time of homophobic persecution in the twentieth century.

    Newton recounts a series of traumas and conflicts, from being molested as a child to her failed attempts to live a “normal,” straight life in high school and college. She discusses being denied tenure at Queens College—despite having written the foundational Mother Camp—and nearly again so at SUNY Purchase. With humor and grace, she describes the influence her father Saul's strong masculinity had on her, her introduction to middle-class gay life, and her love affairs—including one with a well-known abstract painter and another with a French academic she met on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Mexico and with whom she traveled throughout France and Switzerland. By age forty, where Newton's narrative ends, she began to achieve personal and scholarly stability in the company of the first politicized generation of out lesbian and gay scholars with whom she helped create gender and sexuality studies.

    Affecting and immediate, My Butch Career is a story of a gender outlaw in the making, an invaluable account of a beloved and influential figure in LGBT history, and a powerful reminder of just how recently it has been possible to be an openly queer academic.

    About The Author(s)

    Esther Newton, one of the pioneers of gay and lesbian studies, is formerly Term Professor of Women's Studies at the University of Michigan and Professor of Anthropology at Purchase College, State University of New York. She is the author of several books, including Margaret Mead Made Me Gay: Personal Essays, Public Ideas and Cherry Grove, Fire Island: Sixty Years in America's First Gay and Lesbian Town, both also published by Duke University Press, as well as the groundbreaking Mother Camp: Female Impersonators in America.
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