Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography
I found myself drawn again and again to the striking image on the cover of Karen M. Morin’s Frontiers of Femininity, a mirror image created from two photographs, with one reversed. Left, we have a group on Overhanging Rock at Yosemite. Right, we have two women dancing on the Rock, silhouetted against the sky. The experience of being on the edge, of being the edge is central to Morin’s collection of essays in Frontiers of Femininity. The complex frontier that Morin explores calls to mind not only Turner’s frontier but Gloria Anzaldúa's ‘borderlands’:
the Borderlands are physically present wherever two or more cultures edge each other, where people of different races occupy the same territory, where under, lower, middle and upper classes touch, where the space between two individuals shrinks with intimacy... Living on borders and in margins, keeping intact one’s shifting and multiple identity and integrity, is like trying to swim in a new element, an ‘alien’ element. There is an exhilaration in being a participant in the further evolution of humankind, in being ‘worked’ on. (Anzaldúa's, 1999, p. 19)
Anzaldúa's personal and social re-discovery of frontier captures a place as well as a process – stimulating yet dangerous – not unlike the experiences Morin explores of women travelers on the frontier of the American West. Morin too is crossing into new territory.
Dando, Christina E., "Book Review of Frontiers of femininity: a new historical geography of the nineteenth-century American West by Karen M. Morin" (2010). Geography and Geology Faculty Publications. 27.