Reger, Jo. Everywhere & Nowhere: Contemporary Feminism in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. x + 242 pages. Cloth, $24.95.
As someone who was an active participant in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, I am troubled to hear that Wisconsin has repealed a long-standing equal pay law. I am one of those second wavers who cringe to see young women objectify themselves by wearing highly sexualized clothing such as stiletto heels. Sociologist Jo Reger also has her moments. She recounts sitting on a porch in Ohio, reflecting on a community where many value the opinions of Rush Limbaugh or Glen Beck. As reminds readers, it may seems like feminism is "nowhere," yet the changes that it has wrought on American society mean that it is in fact "everywhere." As she observes, more women than men vote and earn college degrees. So how does one sort out this seemingly strange concurrence of "nowhere-everywhere" feminism?
In Everywhere and Nowhere, Reger investigates the idea of a nowhere-everywhere feminism through the lens of conventional social movement theory. She incorporates sociologist Michael Burawoy's Extended Case Method and uses a convenience sample containing forty self-identified feminists dispersed across three networks. These networks are identified using the pseudonyms of Woodview, Evers, and Green City. Her objective is to elicit narratives on feminism that include how members of each network became feminists, how they view contemporary and second wave feminism, what their organizational goals are, and how they understand the community context in which they live. Reger proposes that this approach will generate theoretical links between environmental context, identity, and generational connections.
Woodview is a predominantly right-wing Christian community located in the Midwest. The vast majority of residents are white and work for large corporations. Students at the local university are described as "apolitical" and "unwilling to critique the dominant culture" (p. 33-34). One exception is a group calling itself the Forum for Women (FFW). This organization serves as a safe haven. Within this community context, a key narrative involves a lesbian member of the FFW. This young woman experienced a brutal rape by a man outraged at her sexual orientation. Her choice of sexuality also resulted in estrangement from parents who forced her to leave home. Though members of the FFW report mothers who encouraged them to...