Red Nails, Black Skates

Gender, Cash, and Pleasure on and off the Ice

Red Nails, Black Skates

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 14 illustrations Published: April 2012

Author: Erica Rand

American Studies, Gender and Sexuality > LGBTQ Studies

In her forties, Erica Rand bought a pair of figure skates to vary her workout routine. Within a few years, the college professor was immersed in adult figure skating. Here, in short, incisive essays, she describes the pleasures to be found in the rink, as well as the exclusionary practices that make those pleasures less accessible to some than to others. Throughout the book, Rand situates herself as a queer femme, describing her mixed feelings about participating in a sport with heterosexual story lines and rigid standards for gender-appropriate costumes and moves. She chronicles her experiences competing in the Gay Games and at the annual U.S. Adult National Figure Skating Championship, or "Adult Nationals"; Aided by her comparative study of roller derby and women's hockey, including a brief attempt to play hockey herself, she addresses matters such as skate color conventions, judging systems, racial and sexual norms, transgender issues in sports, and the economics of athletic participation and risk taking. Mixing sharp critique with genuine appreciation and delight, Rand suggests ways to make figure skating more inclusive, while portraying the unlikely friendships facilitated by sports and the sheer elation of gliding on ice.


“Rand goes well beyond the figure-skating vernacular. Writing as a ‘queer femme,’ she takes readers into the gendered communities, intimate nature, and political world of skating--describing family, friendships, equipment, pleasures, and fears. The writing style and subheadings capture readers' attention, the book is well written, and the author integrates theoretical frameworks into the story. This fine treatment of gender and sport will serve a broad audience and a variety of disciplines. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty, professionals, general readers.” — K. H. Weiller, Choice

“Written in clear and accessible prose, Rand clearly outlines her purpose of the field research she participates in. The stories are exciting and enjoyable to read in themselves and Rand’s accompanying critical analysis sheds light on a corner of gender and sport ripe for further exploration. . . . This well-rounded text is a fantastic read for anyone interested in gender and sports.” — The Write Reader

“[Rand’s] personal love for skating shines through the essays collected in Red Nails, Black Skates, leading to an incisive yet upbeat analysis of both the sport's shortcomings and the depths of its potential.” — Dani Alexis Ryskamp, Shelf Awareness

“A book of essays by self-described ‘queer femme’ Rand, a figure-skating college professor who competed in the Gay Games in 2006, in which she examines the exclusionary practices in the sport (heterosexual storylines and rigidly gendered costumes, for example) but also takes time to celebrate the joy of sliding about the ice.” — Diva

“As a figure skater herself, [Rand] explores the gender policing that plagues her beloved sport, presenting her personal journey in a breezy blend of anecdotes that also hit on tough topics like queer identity, race, class, sex, and money. . . . For an academic, Rand's writing is surprisingly light thanks to her humor and honesty, the latter being one of the book's great strengths.” — Mai Nguyen, Bitch

“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. . . . 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. . . . 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.” — Caroline Land, Crowding the Book Truck

“Rather than being overly academic, Red Nails is smart and witty and warmly personal, a fascinating read for anyone interested in LGBT sports and queer lives.“ — Diane Anderson-Minshall, The Advocate

"I recently sacrificed hours of sleep to read Red Nails, Black Skates: Gender, Cash and Pleasure On and Off the Ice by Erica Rand. The short essays in the book present the witty, emotional and often hilarious insights of a professor who took up competitive adult skating fuelled by a love of skating and a desire to think about the gender and social norms that seem so natural to the sport.” — Tina Chen, Winnipeg Free Press

“This is a captivating book that is, simultaneously, all about, and not just about, figure skating. . . . Read this book if you contemplate pleasure and/or seek an understanding of pleasure. The ultimate pleasure in this project, for the reader, may lie in her mapping the interactions among bodies that both complicate and simplify being happy within your own skin.” — Angeletta KM Gourdin, Feminist Formations

"Red Nails, Black Skates is a fabulous read, a smart and often hilarious account of one queer critic's journey deep into the heart of figure skating. The intricate interplay of gender, race, and class in skating culture makes it a perfect site for tackling the ways that antigay and sexist paradigms re-enforce one another, as well as anxieties about race and class. In this brilliantly written book, Erica Rand takes feminist sports studies to a new level, without sacrificing her own stories about the pleasures of figure skating and the lessons that she has learned as a skater." — Jennifer Doyle, author of Sex Objects: Art and the Dialectics of Desire and the feminist soccer blog From a Left Wing

"Erica Rand brings us into the fascinating world of skating on ice. Her personal journey is riveting. In sharing it, she offers insight into the complexities of spending a lifetime immersed in her sport and tells many stories about figure skating that have not been told until now. A brilliant piece of work and a must-read." — Helen Carroll, Sports Project Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights


Availability: In stock
Price: $27.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Erica Rand is Professor of Art and Visual Culture and of Women and Gender Studies at Bates College. She is the author of The Ellis Island Snow Globe and Barbie’s Queer Accessories, both also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction. Skate to Write, Write to Skate 1

I. Seeing and Getting: Notes on Fieldwork

Introduction. Being in Deep 17

1. Seeing and Getting 20

2. Sandbagging, or Grown-Ups Do This? 26

3. Score 32

II. Skating Is Like Sex, Except When It Isn't

Introduction. Pleasure Points 43

4. Skating Is Like Sex, Except When It Isn't 46

5. The End of Me, or My Brief Life in Hockey 52

6. When God Gets Involved 60

III. Hooks

Introduction. Redoing the Laces 71

7. White Skates Become You 73

8. Form-Fitting: The Bra in Three Stories 79

9. My Grandmother's Shoes 85

10. Black Skates, or the Stake in Wanting 89

IV. Ladies

Introduction. Athletic, Artistic, or Just Plain Perverse 97

11. Skank or Ballerina: Codes of the Crotch Shot 103

12. Cracking the Normative 111

13. Oh, Right, Policing Femininity: Nine Inch Nails at Adult Nationals 117

14. Booty Block: Raced Femininity 128

V. Masculine Wiles

Introduction. Masculinity with Teeth 139

15. "I Stand beside Him with an Axe!": Hockey Guys Together 144

16. Quads Make the Man, or What's too Gay for Men's Figure Skating 153

17. The Girl who Fooled by Butchdar 160

VI. Having the Wherewithal

Introduction. Up from the Botton 169

18. Buy-In: Some Notes on Cost 174

19. So You Think You can Train, or Why Can Joshua Dance? 180

20. Gifts of Nature, Freaks of Culture 186

VII. Blade Scars/Biopsy Scars: Rethinking Risk and Choice

Introduction. Blade Scars/Biopsy Scars 199

21. Parsing Perilicious 204

22. Telling the Mrs. 210

23. What Sticks Out 215

24. Losing her Manhood 219

VIII. The Politics of Pleasure

25. Pleasure on Its Face 227

26. Politics at Hand 235

27. Getting the Goods 242

Conclusion. If I Ruled the Rink, or Make the Rink by Skating 249

Notes 263

Bibliography 285

Index 297
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5208-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5197-9
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