Youth and Sexualities: Pleasure, Subordination, and Insubordination in and Out of Schools.

Author:Burford, Joshua
Position:Book review


Edited By Mary Louise Rasmussen, Eric Roles And Susan Talburt. Palgrave Macmillan, 2004

Mary Louise Rasmussen, Eric Rofes, and Susan Talburt have collected a new group of essays dealing with the lives of queer youth. This volume seeks to open up new ways of looking at the lives of queer youth by tackling such topics as narratives of queer youth experience, spaces which queer youth inhabit, and the language that seeks to define who queer youth are. While focusing specifically on the lives of youth, this text does not limit itself to particular experiences. These essays look at the pressures of masculinity, the impulse to become "normal" members of both Gay and Straight society, and the development of sexual identity that has become so verboten to discuss in polite society.

The main focus of Rasmussen, Roles, and Talburt's text is to try to steer the discussion of queer youth away from the very limited understanding of this group as "victims" who are in constant need of saving by both mainstream Gay society and the dominant heterosexual world that they inhabit. As Rofes asks in his essay, "Martyr-Target-Victim: Interrogating Narratives of Persecution and Suffering among Queer Youth," "Are we all really Matthew Shepard?" Rather than diminish the fact that the lives of queer youth can be very dangerous and difficult, the editors of this collection want to shift the focus away from the constant need to protect queer kids and try to look at their lives in new and inventive ways. This new scholarship intends to brush off the simple view of queer youth as "victims" and look at the ways in which these kids create identity, inhabit their spaces, and develop into individuals who can function in society.

Along with challenging the view of queer youth as victims, this collection also tackles the notion of normative queer youth as they are defined by the modern GLBT movement. The second half of the collection, titled "Rethinking Queer Youth," takes a hard look at the ways queer youth develop individual identities while at the same time existing within a rhetoric of identity hoisted on them by the GLBT movement. Mary Louise Rasmussen's essay, "Safety and Subversion: The Production of Sexualities and Genders...

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