Jocelyn M. Boryczka

Feb 27, 2019

Suspect Citizens

Women, Virtue, and Vice in Backlash Politics

Temple University Press 2012

purchase at bookshop.org In her book Suspect Citizens: Women, Virtue, and Vice in Backlash Politics (Temple University Press, 2012), Jocelyn M. Boryczka explores the fraught position that women find themselves in as citizens of the United States. She examines this complex position within the parameters of virtue and vice, the dichotomy through which women, their behavior, and their role in the republic are usually situated and interpreted. Explaining that women are often given the moral responsibility for the care and perpetuation of the country, Boryczka concentrates on demands that women hew to a standard of virtue, and if they deviate from that standard, they are often blamed for the failings or problems that afflict the entire country. This precarious position is where these suspect citizens, women, find themselves and have often found themselves across the history of the country itself. The book delves into the historical positioning of women within this dichotomous frame and traces distinct political moments when different groups of women engaged in aspects of citizenship and, often, how those acts of political engagement then generated a backlash to female political involvement. Boryczka puts these historical flashpoints into non-linear engagement with each other, often seeing parallel outcomes or political approaches from distinct events and situations. For anyone interested in the question and complexity of citizenship, this is yet another important analysis, especially in considering the more precarious position of some citizens within the republic.

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