Beginning with the premise that race shapes white women’s lives just as much as gender shapes men’s lives or sexuality shapes heterosexual lives, Ruth Frankenberg examines, through thirty life-history interviews, just how this “whiteness” is constructed. White Women, Race Matters does not, however, aim to point its finger at a monolithic “whiteness” as the sole cause of racism and sexism. Rather, it intelligently examines and documents the unique experiences of white women and their coming to racial consciousness. Frankenberg suggests that commonly held perceptions of “whiteness” as a hollow concept, and race and racial consciousness as the province of non-white people, are false. “Whiteness” is not an empty signifier, but rather a multifaceted daily experience of racial structuring and through ethnographic descriptions of the thirty women’s lives, Frankenberg provides evidence that “whiteness” is specific set of cultural practices. The only difference, she says, is that unlike other cultural practices, it is as yet both unmarked and unnamed.
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