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Unruly Women

The Politics of Confinement & Resistance

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Paperback published by Seven Stories Press (Seven Stories Press)

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About This Book
Winner of the VanCity Book Prize, Unruly Women: The Politics of Confinement & Resistance is the seminal book about women’s imprisonment that helped spark examinations around the world into the special circumstances women face in prison, as well as the sex and gender crimes that get them there. Most women who are incarcerated do not pose a danger to society but transgress patriarchal, capitalist norms that seek to control their bodies and choices, as seen in the case of prostitution and prosecutions of pregnant women for risky behaviors. Further, the majority of women who enter the criminal justice system have been victims of violence, which raises questions about the continuum from victimization to criminalization. Unruly Women explores patterns of female crimes and punishments, from the witch hunts to the present; institutionalized violence and sexual abuse against incarcerated women; women loving women in prison; motherhood inside prison; battered woman syndrome; Hollywood’s formulaic women-in-prison films; political education in prisons; and acts of resistance, inside and out. Karlene Faith challenges misconceptions of "deviant" women, and celebrates the unruly woman: the unmanageable woman who claims her own body, and who cannot be silenced. As the "drug war" wages on, riddled with excessive and inequitable prison sentences; the incarcerated population skyrockets toward 2.5 million (up from less than 200,000 nationwide in 1970); and private prisons burgeon around the coasts, now is a critical moment to educate ourselves about what is at stake with our prison system. Faith’s incisive work causes us to question the usefulness of the forced confinement and surveillance of mostly nonviolent people.
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Winner of the VanCity Book Prize, Unruly Women: The Politics of Confinement & Resistance is the seminal book about women’s imprisonment that helped spark examinations around the world into the special circumstances women face in prison, as well as the sex and gender crimes that get them there. Most women who are incarcerated do not pose a danger to society but transgress patriarchal, capitalist norms that seek to control their bodies and choices, as seen in the case of prostitution and prosecutions of pregnant women for risky behaviors. Further, the majority of women who enter the criminal justice system have been victims of violence, which raises questions about the continuum from victimization to criminalization. Unruly Women explores patterns of female crimes and punishments, from the witch hunts to the present; institutionalized violence and sexual abuse against incarcerated women; women loving women in prison; motherhood inside prison; battered woman syndrome; Hollywood’s formulaic women-in-prison films; political education in prisons; and acts of resistance, inside and out. Karlene Faith challenges misconceptions of "deviant" women, and celebrates the unruly woman: the unmanageable woman who claims her own body, and who cannot be silenced. As the "drug war" wages on, riddled with excessive and inequitable prison sentences; the incarcerated population skyrockets toward 2.5 million (up from less than 200,000 nationwide in 1970); and private prisons burgeon around the coasts, now is a critical moment to educate ourselves about what is at stake with our prison system. Faith’s incisive work causes us to question the usefulness of the forced confinement and surveillance of mostly nonviolent people.
Product Details
Paperback (368 pages)
Published: July 26, 2011
Publisher: Seven Stories Press
Imprint: Seven Stories Press
ISBN: 9781609801373
Other books byKarlene Faith
  • 13 Women

    13 Women
    Parables from Prison
    13 Women conveys the personal accounts of women in prison, spanning three decades and taking place in Canada, the United States and Brazil. Most of the women in these pages, as is true for the majority of imprisoned women, were incarcerated for offences related to drugs and theft. Several were involved in violent incidents. Three of the contributors - Betty Krawczyk, Ann Hansen and Christine Lamont — did time for political activities that received international media attention. Karlene Faith’s work as a long-time prisoners’ rights activist has given her deep insight into the politics of punishment. The commentary and reflections she and co-editor Anne Near contribute to the book raise provocative questions about personal accountability, the state’s uses and abuses of power, and the broad social challenges women face.

    The Long Prison Journey of Leslie van Houten

    The Long Prison Journey of Leslie van Houten
    Life Beyond the Cult
    At the age of twenty-one, Leslie Van Houten was sentenced to death, along with Charles Manson and his other disciples, for the infamous murder rampage spanning two nights in August 1969. Leslie, who was present at the Rosemary and Leno LaBianca stabbings, serenely accepted her sentence, wishing only that she had better served Manson in carrying out his apocalyptic vision of "Helter Skelter." When the United States temporarily suspended its death penalty, her sentence for murder conspiracy was converted to life in prison. Today, at the age of 51, after three trials and with no parole in sight, Leslie has become a remarkable survivor of a living nightmare. This work tells about Karlene Faith's thirty-year friendship with Leslie, whom she met while teaching in prison. To everyone who encountered Leslie-including prison staff and television journalists-she was not the demon typically portrayed by the media, but rather a gentle, generous spirit who mourned her victims. But why didn't this intelligent young woman see the evil in the "messiah" who had sexually exploited her, preached a racist ideology, and ordered her to murder? Faith pieces together the puzzle, starting with Leslie's spiritual quest within the sixties counterculture and her immediate attraction to Manson during a chance meeting. We learn of Manson's ability to look into her mind and commiserate with her turmoil. We also see his own need to control women and how his brainwashing techniques enabled his followers to embrace him as God, giving them little choice but to obey. Leslie's journey out of Manson's grasp is a riveting feminist and spiritual story of recovering one's self. Why this rehabilitated woman, long punished for one man's madness, has not been able to leave prison is another story Faith brings to light. Filled with accounts of political injustices, this powerful book moves the reader to rethink the meanings and limits of guilt and punishment.

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