Looking for the Enemy: The Eternal Internal Gender Wars of Our Sisters is an edited collection of some of the most thoughtful and audacious voices on gender. In five distinct sections, their contributors use speeches, essays, short fiction, interviews, and auto-ethnography to explore the ways in which the gender wars have threatened and stifled our past, our present, and our future. Within these pages, the discourses about race, popular culture, belonging, health and wellness, parenthood, body politics, sexuality, violence, and social justice span space and time.
Looking For the Enemy challenges readers to climb over—cross over—borders that blind and urge them not to look, not to speak, not to act. This anthology serves as a guidepost that will help us to navigate, and even battle the terrain, yet retain our humanity
SECTION ONE—IDENTITY: THE FEARLESS WITNESSING WOMAN
Excerpted from A Book of Showings to the Anchoress Julian of Norwich (The First Revelation) by Julian of Norwich
This excerpt recounts revelations revealed by way of divine intervention to Julian of Norwich. Here, Norwich asserts boldly that woman can be present with God and that the nature of God is feminine.
Excerpted from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
This chapter from the famous treatise looks at overcoming the ways in which the women of Wollstonecraft’s time were oppressed and denied the opportunity to seek additional roles outside of motherhood and wifedom.
On Women’s Rights (The Ain’t I A Woman Speech) by Sojourner Truth
In this, perhaps her most poignant and powerful speech, the emancipated slave turned activist asserts and reaffirms her right to equal protection under the law.
First Anniversary of the American Equal Rights Association Speech by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Much like her Suffragette contemporaries, Stanton offers an uncompromising take on the importance of voter’s rights for women, while also addressing issues of race and Class.
On Women’s Right to Vote by Susan B. Anthony
After an arrest for voting “illegally,” Anthony formulates a savvy and substantive argument that declares that she, as a lawful citizen, is entitled to vote in elections.
The Laugh of the Medusa by Hélène Cixous
This essay, first published in the 1970s, asks women to break free of images and language that defines and confines them. She encourages women to take up the mantle of writing femininely to combat existing stereotypes.
The Female Tradition by Elaine Showalter
Showalter endeavors to explain why women must develop a new critical and scholarly understanding of women as writers; moreover, she asserts that they must re-open and continue the discussion about representations of women within literature.
Reading Ourselves: Toward a Feminist Theory of Reading by Patrocinio Schweickart
Schweickart uses her essay to suggest that women experience a forced academic masculinization when it comes to reading and experiencing canonical texts. In the essay, she asserts that women must break free of this practice and create academic understandings unique to themselves.
SECTION TWO—LOOKING FOR THE ENEMY: WOMEN TALKING TO, FOR, AND ABOUT OTHER WOMEN
I Am Not Your Mammy: The Penalty for Failing to be a Stereotype by Renata Ferdinand
Using autoethnography as a means of sharing her story, the author explores her primary roles—mother, scholar, and academic—as a means of challenging stereotypical tropes of Black female identity and their footholds in her professional life.
Female Genital Mutilation: Mothers Need to Say No by Homa Khaleeli
The article serves as a call to arms for mothers to emotionally support and physically protect their daughters from this age-old custom of genital mutilation.
Just Another Bitch on Reality Television: The Intentional Degradation of the American Girl and Woman by Monique Ferrell
After watching female-led reality shows for a period of two years, the author asks the following: what, if anything, is wrong with the female participants; and what is wrong with a system and culture that sexualizes, infantilizes, and brutalizes women as a source of entertainment?
Born a Woman—and Born to Suffer: The Mistress-Servant Community in Mary Wollstonecraft’s Maria by Ruth Garcia
In this essay, using Wollstonecraft’s Maria, Garcia examines the existing relationship between a woman and her servant. The author suggests that the employer re-inscribes the divisive structures within the mistress-servant relationship while trying to eliminate them.
“Why Can’t We Sit and Hold Hands?”—Mothers, Daughters and Generational Conflict in Twenty-First-Century Women’s Fiction by Jade McKay
Using several authors as examples to substantiate her claims, McKay’s essay examines generational antagonisms and mother-daughter conflicts in middlebrow women’s novels.
Deified Mothers and Destroyed Daughters: Female Community in Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood by Winter Elliott
In this essay, the authors seeks to examine the strained and fractured relationships between mothers and daughters in Emecheta’s celebrated novel.
Third Wave Matrophobia and Dystopian Feminist Possibilities in Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games by Cara Byrne
Through the lens of maternal and third wave feminist thought, this essay examines female relationships within Collins’ The Hunger Games. Additionally, it positions the novel’s heroine Katniss as uniquely feminist and as a force of resistance within her community.
Against My Sisters: The Dohmestics by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar
Coupled with a scholarly introduction, the author uses critical analysis alongside excerpts from the novel The Dohmestics to explore the abuse of female servants at the hands of their female bosses.
SECTION THREE—SEX, SEXUALITY, AND SEXUAL ORIENTATION: THE BODY POLITIC
I See the Same Ho: Video Vixens, Beauty Culture, and Diasporic Sex Tourism by T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting
In order to advance the cause and culture of the Hip Hop industry, this is an uncompromising look at how Black women are being used as commodified flesh to advance and legitimize Hip Hop music.
SNAFU by Miryam Sivan
In this short story, a married American woman, who is learning to drive, begins a sexual relationship with her Israeli driving instructor, thus muddling an already complicated and evolving life.
F/Vagina: A New Biography by Naomi Wolf
This chapter from Wolf ’s Vagina takes a historical and cultural look at the vagina. Here, she attempts to reframe how we see women and the female anatomy.
The Art of Ambivalence: Rethinking Body Politics on the Kabuki Stage by Raechel Dumas
In her essay, the author takes a look at the use of male actors as real-life standins for the female gender in the Kabuki theater of Tokugawa Japan. In doing so, she explores how the art of female role-performance, commonly identified as a mode of transgressing gender constructs, serves also to reinforce dominant assumptions concerning the intrinsic qualities of womanhood.
Birdie Num-Num by Lavanya Sankaran
An Indian mother—upon the return of her well-educated daughter, who has been studying abroad—pushes her resistant child toward the world of tradition and matrimony.
Crowding the Bathroom: Bathroom Space in The Women’s Room by Courtney McDermott
Crowding the Bathroom is a unique look at engendered space and place. Using Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room, McDermott connects female feeling, identity, and revelation to a type of freedom of expression afforded by access to bathroom space.
The Coming Out of a Gay Pride Child by Elizabeth Lorde-Rollins
Here, Lorde recounts the process and evolution of defining her sexuality and being brave enough to share her understanding of herself with her family.
Lotus Blossom or Dragon Lady: An Analysis of Chinese Action Heroine Images in Hollywood Cinema by Zongmei Fu
Lotus Blossom is an exploration of Chinese action heroines in contemporary Hollywood Cinema. The essay makes a distinction between two types of constructed Chinese female identities and determines that these cinematic images are growing to be diversified, pluralistic, and unstable.
SECTION FOUR—A NEW UNDERSTANDING: THINGS WE SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT
Marooned by Helena Kadmos
Inspired by Adrienne Rich’s seminal book Of Woman Born, this short story focuses on an Australian mother in suburbia attempting to enjoy the day while home alone with her two small children.
“My Scribbling Foes”: Women Writing Rivalry in the Eighteenth Century by Elizabeth Johnston
Johnston’s essay focuses on the competition between eighteenth century female authors and the trope of a supposed model of proper femininity.
Magnificat by Caitlin Thomas White
White captures the evolving nature of the mother-daughter dynamic and offers a unique perspective on their nuanced relationships with religion.
Cherry Season by Rachel Luria
As they travel to Florida to honor the wishes of Misty’s deceased father, the story follows the complicated relationship between a woman and her mother. In doing so, both women come to learn a lot about the man, themselves, and one another.
“Womanish Vices”: Female-on-Female Violence in Eighteenth-Century England by Margo Collins
This essay examines the construction of violent femininity in early eighteenth-century conduct literature, particularly in terms of its consideration of feminine violence against other women.
Miss Grief by Constance Fenimore Woolson
“Miss Grief,” told through the eyes of a male narrator, examines how male dominance crushes female experience and expression.
The Idea of Reciprocity: Hip Hop Feminism, Fatherhood, and the Golden Rule—A Thought in Motion by Todd Craig
As an author and noted Hip Hop Scholar, Craig examines what it means to be a fan of the genre but, also, a concerned father raising two Black daughters in 21st century America.
The Backlash Jubilee: A Case Study in Silence, Consequence, and the Dismissive Right by Jeanann Verlee
As it relates to fear of reprisal and backlash, this essay is an examination of silence in the aftermath of sexual assaults. Through various comments made by politicians, Verlee posits that said “backlash” is directly related to the conservative stance on women who have been victimized.
SECTION FIVE—MISDEEDS, VIOLENCE, RAGE, AND RECONCILIATION: COURAGE AND COMBAT UNDER FIRE
F/Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In this excerpt from the novel, a young girl is learning to come to terms with the knowledge that her beloved and feared father is an abusive husband and that culture and religion only allow for confusion over salvation.
The Gift that Keeps on Giving: Rape, Social Outrage, and the Rise of Sexual Assault as Entertainment by Julian Williams
The essay takes a questioning look at female rape, male denial, and the impact television, film, and social media have on community ignorance and victim backlash.
Dancing with the Jailer: Dariush Mehrjui’s Leila and the Societal Stockholm Syndrome by Melissa A. Crowder Rhoden
Using the film Leila as the focus of her discussion, this essay examines the nuances of Islamic feminism.
The Contest by Catherine Kyle
Through a fight about the training of a household pet, a father and daughter have a stand-off about might, will, winning, and the female-male power structure.
Saintly in the City by Melissa Vosen Callens
Told from different perspectives, this short story details the outcomes following the murder of a hated and despised woman, who, in a position of power, harms all that she comes into contact with—especially other women.
Juniper by A. A. Balaskovits
Balaskovits’ short fiction explores unfulfilled lives and what happens when a daughter learns that her parents are all too human and that life is often complicated and violent.
Rambling in Search of Answers: Bill Cosby, Self-reflection, and the Fear of Feeling “Me-Tooish” by Julian Williams
Taking a look at the recent fall of Bill Cosby, Williams examines the dismantling of men behaving badly and the trend of women fighting back. He does this all while questioning his own learned behavior as “man”—self evaluation that leads to him seeking to define feelings that leave him with a troubling sense of being “Me Too-ish.”