Falling into the Lesbi World: Desire and Difference in Indonesia, by Evelyn Blackwood, offers a compelling view of sexual and gender difference through the everyday lives of tombois and their girlfriends (“femmes”) in the city of Padang, West Sumatra. While likening themselves to heterosexual couples, tombois and femmes contest and blur dominant constructions of gender and heterosexuality. Tombois are masculine females who identify as men and desire women; their girlfriends view themselves as normal women who desire men. Through rich, in-depth, and provocative stories, author Evelyn Blackwood shows how these same-sex Indonesian couples negotiate transgressive identities and desires and how their experiences speak to the struggles and desires of sexual and gender minorities everywhere.
“Falling into the Lesbi World sheds valuable light on the ways in which locally distinctive sensibilities articulate with regional, national, and transnational discourses bearing on the making of gender and sexual identities among Indonesia’s Minangkabau. This is a very sophisticated, nuanced, and theoretically provocative piece of work that is simultaneously lucid and compelling; it will be of great interest to Southeast Asianists and others committed to understanding gender diversity and sexual subjectivities in postcolonial contexts and beyond.” —Michael G. Peletz, Emory University
September 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3487-6 / $24.00 (PAPER)