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Body Battlegrounds
Transgressions, Tensions, and Transformations

Editor(s): Chris Bobel, Samantha Kwan

Body Battlegrounds explores the rich and complex lives of society's body outlaws—individuals from myriad social locations who oppose hegemonic norms, customs, and conventions about the body. Original research chapters (based on textual analysis, qualitative interviews, and participant observation) along with personal narratives provide a window into the everyday lives of people rewriting the norms of embodiment in sites like schools, sporting events, and doctors' offices.

Table of Contents

Introduction | Chris Bobel and Samantha Kwan

Part I: Going "Natural"

Body Hair Battlegrounds: The Consequences, Reverberations, and Promises of Women Growing Their Leg, Pubic, and Underarm Hair | Breanne Fahs

Radical Doulas, Childbirth Activism, and the Politics of Embodiment | Monica Basile

• Caring for the Corpse: Embodied Transgression and Transformation in Home Funeral Advocacy | Anne Esacove

Living Resistance:

• Deconstructing Reconstructing: Challenging Medical Advice Following Mastectomy | Joanna Rankin

• My Ten-Year Dreadlock Journey: Why I Love the "Kink" in My Hair . . . Today | Cheryl Thompson

• Living My Full Life: My Rejecting Weight Loss as an Imperative for Recovery from Binge Eating Disorder | Christina Fisanick

• Pretty Brown: Encounters with My Skin Color | Praveena Lakshmanan

Part II: Representing Resistance

• Blood as Resistance: Photography as Contemporary Menstrual Activism | Shayda Kafai

• Am I Pretty Enough for You Yet?: Resistance through Parody in the Pretty or Ugly YouTube Trend | Katherine Phelps

• The Infidel in the Mirror: Mormon Women's Oppositional Embodiment | Kelly Grove and Doug Schrock

Living Resistance:

• A Cystor's Story: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and the Disruption of Normative Femininity | Ledah McKellar

• Old Bags Take a Stand: A Face Off with Ageism in America | Faith Baum and Lori Petchers

• Making Up with My Body: Applying Cosmetics to Resist Disembodiment | Haley Gentile

• I Am a Person Now: Autism, Indistinguishability, and (Non)optimal Outcome | Alyssa Hillary

Part III: Creating Community, Disrupting Assumptions

• Yelling and Pushing on the Bus: The Complexity of Black Girls' Resistance | Stephanie D. Sears and Maxine Leeds Craig

• Big Gay Men's Performative Protest Against Body Shaming: The Case of Girth and Mirth | Jason Whitesel

• "What's Love Got to Do with It?": The Embodied Activism of Domestic Violence Survivors on Welfare | Sheila M. Katz

Living Resistance:

• "Your Signing Is So Beautiful!": The Radical Invisibility of ASL Interpreters in Public | Rachel Kolb

• Two Shakes | Rev. Adam Lawrence Dyer

• "Showing Our Muslim": Embracing the Hijab in the Era of Paradox | Sara Rehman

• "Doing Out": A Black Dandy Defies Gender Norms in the Bronx | Mark Broomfield

• Everybody: Making Fat Radio for All of Us | Cat Pausé

Part IV: Transforming Institutions and Ideologies

• Embodying Nonexistence: Encountering Mono- and Cisnormativities in Everyday Life | J. E. Sumerau

• Freeing the Nipple: Encoding the Heterosexual Male Gaze into Law | J. Shoshanna Ehrlich

• Give Us a Twirl: Male Baton Twirlers' Embodied Resistance in a Feminized Terrain | Trenton M. Haltom

• "That Gentle Somebody": Rethinking Black Female Same-Sex Practices and Heteronormativity in Contemporary South Africa | Taylor Riley

Living Resistance:

Biography of Editor(s)

Chris Bobel, Associate Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and Samantha Kwan, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Houston, are co-editors of Embodied Resistance: Challenging the Norms, Breaking the Rules, also published by Vanderbilt.
Samantha Kwan is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Houston. She has published in Qualitative Health Research, Sociological Inquiry, and Teaching Sociology.


  • "What does it mean to use bodily resistance as a lens to expose and critique highly policed social rules around body size, grooming, skin color, birthing, mental health, aging, partner violence, and much more without falling into the trap of individualizing identity politics? This is what Body Battlegrounds is all about. It is at once an accessible continuation of the radical tradition in scholarship on bodies and a great gift to interdisciplinary scholars and their students."
    Meika Loe, Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies, Colgate University, and author of Aging Our Way: Lessons for Living from 85 and Beyond
  • "A pathbreaking, exciting, and often surprising collection that provides unpredictable insights into aspects of embodiment not frequently considered. These wide-ranging essays reveal a fundamental human commonality: We all have to deal with the bodies we have while challenging the context in which they exist."
    Loretta Ross, author and co-creator of Reproductive Justice
  • "Bobel and Kwan have done it again! By 'it,' I mean they have curated yet another theoretically and empirically diverse, engaging, insightful, and highly readable collection of scholarly and activist writing on bodily norms and the myriad ways people resist (and sometimes accommodate) them."
    Laura M. Carpenter, Associate Professor of Sociology, Vanderbilt University, and author of Virginity Lost: An Intimate Portrait of First Sexual Experiences
  • About Embodied Resistance, Chris Bobel & Samantha Kwan's previous edited collection (also published by Vanderbilt):
    "Finally, here is a book about the body that is as juicy, colorful, and unpredictable as the body itself. Embodied Resistance is not only about resistance but as a collection vibrates with its own resistance, both to academic abstractions about 'the body' and to uncritical storytelling. A wonderful blend of ethnographic research and personal reflections, it toes no one theoretical line and embraces a fascinating range of practices, issues, and experiences. This is a book students will identify with, argue with, shed tears over, laugh along with, and rarest of all for a scholarly reader, enjoy curling up with."
    Susan Bordo, author of Unbearable Weight and The Male Body