Gender on Ice

Lisa Bloom, Author University of Minnesota Press $60 (176p) ISBN 978-0-8166-2091-3
Bloom makes a good case for her intriguing central thesis, that both Robert Peary and Robert Falcon Scott rendered accounts of their respective polar expeditions in terms that inflated the heroism of their deeds and exemplified ``the particular imperial and masculinist ideologies that each characterized.'' Of the two, only Peary receives extended scrutiny as Bloom examines his unwillingness to share the glory with Matthew Henson (the black explorer who accompanied him); the question of whether or not he actually reached the North Pole; and his relationship with the National Geographic Society, which provided funding for his venture and promoted the myth of Peary as white male hero. Also interesting, but less effectively integrated, is Bloom's discussion of National Geographic magazine's ``colonial discourse of women and development.'' Although the author offers many astute observations, the text is marred by her own prejudices, which keep her from recognizing that women can be exploitive colonialists and allow her to see Peary as ``simply incompetent'' in failing to reach the Pole while not tagging Henson--who apparently deserves credit but not blame--in the same way. Bloom is a Mellon postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1993
Release date: 09/01/1993
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-8166-2093-7
Ebook - 176 pages - 978-0-8166-8440-3
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