Monday, May 14, 2012

Red Nails, Black Skates by Erica Rand

Erica Rand wasn't expecting a pair of skates to have such an effect on her life. A college professor in her forties isn't usually the person who gets swept up into the world of figure skating...or is she? This access to the world of adult figure skating provides an up-close look at the strong gender assumptions that govern skating along with the way that money, race, and sex play out on the ice. Red Nails, Black Skates: Gender, Cash and Pleasure On and Off the Ice, through short essays, looks at how these factors combine in figure skating - adult and otherwise.

I am a longtime fan of figure skating, but adult skating is one area that I've never really explored. I really enjoyed Erica Rand's study of gender, politics, and the pleasure of skating; she has a love for the sport and a critical eye to what is going on at and under the surface. This book and others that have come out recently (including Artistic Impressions) have helped me to place into a context my own thoughts about the sport that I love. I started watching skating in the 90s during the period of hypermasculinity evidenced by Elvis Stojko and Michael Weiss; I watched Johnny Weir's gender be questioned at the 2010 Winter Olympics.  I was in the audience at the Grand Prix final last year where Carolina Kostner came out in a one-piece jumpsuit and saw how immediately people started talking about a skater without a skirt (often in the same sentence as pointing out that it gave her 'cameltoe'). Figure skating is an area where sport, gender, sex, politics, money, and race come together in a fascinating way. Erica Rand's writing combines the personal details of her life and experiences as a skater with research into different aspects of sport and gender theory. Related areas, including roller derby and hockey, are explored as well. The book is accessible to skating enthusiasts and well worth reading. If you're looking for ways to pass the time before the 2012-13 skating season starts, definitely consider picking up this book.

See also her website for more information about her other books.

I received a review copy from NetGalley courtesy of Duke University Press.

Also check out a great review of the book at The Book Cricket.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
Barbie's Queer Accessories by Erica Rand
Artistic Impressions: Figure Skating, Masculinity, and the Limits of Sport by Mary Louise Adams
Culture on Ice: Figure Skating and Cultural Meaning by Ellyn Kestnbaum
Down and Derby by Alex Cohen and Jennifer Barbee

No comments:

Post a Comment