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Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants (Radical Perspectives) 0th Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0822339465
ISBN-10: 0822339463
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Femininity in Flight is outstanding. It is the most thoroughly presented book on femininity, work, and pink-collar activism to date. It expands the contours of the women’s rights movement and complicates the grounds on which women make demands for better working conditions.”— Eileen Boris, author of Home to Work: Motherhood and the Politics of Industrial Homework in the United States


Femininity in Flight is the first book that tells the story of the flight attendant occupation as a whole and gives us the history of the occupation in so compelling and rich a fashion. Kathleen M. Barry offers us an entertaining and witty account of how flight attendants embodied changing notions of femininity, and then she boldly challenges conventional wisdom by arguing that it was those very cultural constraints that in part spurred flight attendant activism.”— Dorothy Sue Cobble, author of The Other Women’s Movement: Workplace Justice and Social Rights in Modern America


[Femininity in Flight] combines all the strengths of a scholarly monograph—extensive archival research, a solid historiographical framework—with the kind of stylish layout and eye-catching illustration more common in books for the general reader. And Barry writes with clarity and wit. She tells a complicated story, but engrossingly.”
(Joshua Zeitz , American Heritage)

Femininity in Flight makes a significant contribution to our understanding of labor feminism, joining a body of work that challenges the notion that feminism was essentially a white middle-class movement. . . . A great read; it will keep you enlightened and entertained through even a lengthy flight delay.”
(Nan Enstad, Labor History)

“[A] sophisticated and detailed study of flight attendants. . . . One of the many strengths of Barry’s book is the incorporation of the history of technology into her social and cultural analysis. . . . Readers will learn much from this deeply researched book.”
(Dennis A. Deslippe, The Historian)

“Barry provides an entertaining study of American flight attendants since the 1930s, filling a major void in scholarship on labour history, women’s history, and tourism. Drawing particularly on memoirs, union records, and industry publications, Barry convincingly argues that stewardesses and their allies were vital to the advancement of second-wave feminism and the modern labour movement.”
(Anthony J. Stanonis, Canadian Journal of History)

“Barry shows how ‘pink-collar’ activists among the ranks of flight attendants worked to improve the status of their profession. . . . Barry argues that the struggle to win professional respect was made particularly difficult by the conflict between the effortless glamour that attendants were expected to project and the tedium and difficulty of their actual responsibilities.”
(The New Yorker)

“Barry tells a fascinating story about the history of flight attendants and their success challenging deeply rooted gendered stereotypes that were largely invented by the airline industry to maximize profit and then exploited by air travelers and the public at large. . . . [E]ssential reading for historians and students of the twentieth century.”
(Lisa Phillips, Labour/Le Travail)

“Barry’s feminist analysis is clever and somewhat poignant, for it sees that in the role of the air hostess a vision of female selfhood and freedom has been forced to rub, rather uncomfortably, against a rather ogling set of corporate requirements.”
(Andrew O’Hagan, London Review of Books)

“Soar through the pleasures and plights of females in flight with this highly informative read. . . . With a no nonsense writing style, well-documented evidence, and telling photos (marvel at the hot pants uniform on page 183), Barry demonstrates how flight attendants’ long history of organizing and fighting for their rights made them crusaders for all women and key contributors to second-wave feminism. After reading this you’ll step on a plane wanting to salute any veteran attendants for their journey as you embark on your own.”
(Paula Wehmeyer, Bust)

“This well-researched book traces the evolution of flight attendants from glamorous sky queens to cabin safety experts and members of trade unions.”
(Air & Space)

"One of the great strengths of Femininity in Flight is the broad context within which Barry views flight attendants' struggles, in terms of women's work, union organisation and second-wave feminism. By contextualising her study so well and drawing out the parallels between stewardesses and other pink-collar workers, Barry has produced a book with wide appeal and relevance to many interested in labour history, the women's movement, and the growth of service work."
(Rosie Cox, Times Higher Education Supplement)

From the Publisher

"Femininity in Flight is outstanding. It is the most thoroughly presented book on femininity, work, and pink-collar activism to date. It expands the contours of the women's rights movement and complicates the grounds on which women make demands for better working conditions."-- Eileen Boris, author of Home to Work: Motherhood and the Politics of Industrial Homework in the United States

"Femininity in Flight is the first book that tells the story of the flight attendant occupation as a whole and gives us the history of the occupation in so compelling and rich a fashion. Kathleen M. Barry offers us an entertaining and witty account of how flight attendants embodied changing notions of femininity, and then she boldly challenges conventional wisdom by arguing that it was those very cultural constraints that in part spurred flight attendant activism."-- Dorothy Sue Cobble, author of The Other Women's Movement: Workplace Justice and Social Rights in Modern America --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Radical Perspectives
  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (February 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822339463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822339465
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Robin Orlowski on March 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
This gen-x feminist has certainly flown on more than my share of flights thanks to airline deregulation (1978), but having grown up after sex discrimination laws were passed, I also did not previously have the full understanding of all the historical nuances which went into achieving legislative battles making the skies sexism free.

It was interesting to read how the stewardess position (as it was then called) became so tightly controlled, ironically having originally developed in an era when there were few other 'interesting' employment opportunities available to women. By the 1950's, the airlines had codes of stewardess conduct which look a million times stricter than anything handed down at my workplaces.

Expected to retire at age 35, a woman had to meet certain mandatory height and weight requirements, and could not be married or have any children in order to successfully perform her duties to her customers at all times. Barry's research methodologies expressly delineate though that the airlines, reflective of the larger society's biases, only hired white unmarried girls for these 'jobs' but tellingly did not treat them in the appropriate manner an employer would treat their employees.

A stewardess was expected to thanklessly fulfill many tasks simultaneously, mother, sex-pot/kitten, nurse---but in the cruel twist of irony, she also was not welcomed in the union ranks as an equal after undergoing all of these horrific working conditions, the women were expected to continue letting male union leaders represent them as had been the previous tradition.

Rather than be docile, that ongoing disparate treatment inadvertently galvanized the women into taking action for each other. Sisterhood wasn't a `trendy slogan' each other was all they had.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Linda Akins on December 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
I flew for United Airlines from 1966 until 1997, and I really love this book and agree with the author. It is a good and informative read.
Linda Akins
author, From Stewardess to Flight Attendant
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By mary11 on May 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found it interesting how flight attendants impacted women's rights because they were sexy! I was surprised that the unions had so much trouble organizing the stewardesses and that it was the stewardesses that promoted their role in safety. This book gives a great historical perspective.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My mom was a stewardess on NW Orient Airlines in the 1950's and I bought this book for her for Mother's Day. She LOVED it. It brought back a lot of fond memories for her and she said the author did a great job explaining how it really was back then.
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