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Tales Of The Lavender Menace: A Memoir Of Liberation Paperback – March 3, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; New Ed edition (March 3, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465083668
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465083664
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #280,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Lesbian scholar and activist Karla Jay's memoir is rich in sexual detail and family trauma, but may be enjoyed best as a personal history of the turbulent era in which its author came of age. She brings fresh first-hand reports on some of the most pivotal events in the rise of the New Left--from the 1968 student riots at Columbia through the Stonewall riots to the 1970 feminist takeover of the Ladies' Home Journal, which Jay describes as "without a doubt the most successful one-day action taken by the Women's Liberation Movement."

At times nostalgic, at other times clear-eyed and critical, Jay recounts her close involvement with both the Gay Liberation Front and radical feminist groups. In an atmosphere of increasing paranoia (Jay's own phone was tapped, and there is evidence of FBI infiltration of the meetings she attended), she came to terms "with the likelihood that I would spend some part of my life in prison." Enlivened, here and there, by waspish recollections of Rita Mae Brown and other activists, Jay's memoir takes its place beside Jan Clausen's recent Apples and Oranges in tracking the inception of the gay rights movement and the glory days of women's lib. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Jay writes with wry humor and astute historical analysis in this memoir of her early days as a feminist and gay liberation activist. Currently the director of women's and gender studies and professor of English at Pace University, she was raised in a middle-class Brooklyn home by an emotionally disturbed mother and a father who didn't believe she was his daughter. Jay's political life began in 1964 when she entered Barnard College; by 1969 she was a member of the Redstockings radical feminist collective and a leader in the newly formed Gay Liberation Front. With a canny eye for detail, she creates a vivid, realistic portrait of early 1970s feminist and sexual radicalism, from communal living to group sex to the watershed feminist protest in the offices of Ladies' Home Journal. She charts how women's and gay liberation were made possible by the black civil rights and antiwar movements and is careful not to idealize or whitewash complex, sometimes petty and factional, political struggles, while clearly expressing the joy and excitement she felt in the moment. Nor does she hesitate to contradict the memoirs of luminaries such as Rita Mae Brown and Betty Friedan, taking them to task for what she considers historical misrepresentation. Jay has turned out a political and personal memoir that succeeds in its aim to convey "what it was like to live then and what some of us did to forge social change." Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I was lucky enough to snag a pre-publication copy of Tales of the Lavender Menace. This is Karla Jay's affecting memoir of her transformational journey through the heady early years of the women's and gay liberation movements. Jay writes with courage, humor and complete candor, starting with her difficult family and her student life at Barnard College. Her first-hand experience with political protest and police brutality caused her to begin to question her original values. Consciousness-raising groups, lesbian dances, and a generous helping of sex complete the picture. She does not spare the reader any intimate details, as we learn how she literally re-invented herself, from a middle-class college student to a radical lesbian feminist. Not just a witness to, but also a participant in the rapidly changing history of the sixties and seventies, Jay takes the reader on a hilarious, whirlwind tour of the era. I was amazed at how much detail she remembers. For her, and for the reader, the personal really becomes the political. Buy (do not burn or steal) this very engrossing book; I couldn't put it down.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
I found reading this book a little like looking through a high school yearbook. It has a certain "those were the days, my friends" feel to it. It's interesting mainly because the times were interesting, and it's fun to look back. But it left me wanting something more substantial.
There are details galore about the titillating (sex, drugs, agents provocateurs, etc.). In contrast, there's very little of the emotional candor or 20/20 hindsight one might expect after the passing of thirty years.
In the Epilogue Ms. Jay writes "It is hard for me to explain how the protagonist of this memoir emerged as a tenured full professor ... I am no longer the person at the center of this political autobiography, not even vaguely..."
And that's exactly my problem with the book. Jay offers a chronicle of events -- large and small -- but there's little of the introspection and reflection I expect in a personal memoir.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cathleen M. Walker VINE VOICE on October 18, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Oh, what a fun read! This is one person's perspective, one person's story. Karla Jay does not claim to speak for all feminists, and it is important that those willing to take the time and energy to write their experience do so -- it is in so doing that herstory manifests. We all have our own perspective on the time in which we live -- just note how many people yell at the TV while watching the news!

I loved reading this book. It helped me to remember my own time during the 60s in which I missed out on much of the fun Ms. Jay experienced, but have certainly benefited from the work she and her cronies did. For that, I am truly grateful.

I loved this book. It captures a sense of "being there" that too many books lack. Her history of family dysfunction is far from uncommon, given the numbers of traumatized children and that trauma, without treatment, tends to be intergenerational. It's part of the story, certainly. After all, isn't Patriarchal madness part and parcel of the history of the world?

Karla Jay chose not to avail herself of therapy. On the other hand, she had access to Academia that escaped me, and it supports her today. I probably have more confusion around that. Interestingly enough, we both managed to live our lives without ever driving a car. I know there are more of us out there!

A great book, again, a fun read. Definitely a "Feminism 101" reader.
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