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I Never Wanted to Be a Stereotype

A Sociologist’s Narrative of Healing

Cindy Brooks Dollar

Trauma and its consequences are social phenomena. Coming from a working-class family and raised in a small, rural Southern area, this author's narrative offers a unique style of life history reporting whereby the author uses her academic standpoint to situate her life experiences in broader macro-social and cultural contexts. Weaving scholarship with personal narrative, the author highlights connections between self and social awareness, which is crucial, especially in a modern, Western context where the rhetoric of excessive individualism is prioritized. Discussing various issues, including objectification, violence, isolation, stigma, trauma, shame, integration, healing, peace, and love, she illustrates the application and significance of sociological knowledge to individual life. Many chapters include and conclude with excerpts from the author’s diary entries, which she has maintained for over 30 years. These provide a relatively unfiltered glimpse into her personal and social consciousness throughout various life stages, including adolescence, teens, young and middle adulthood. The book closes with a summary of existing research on trauma and recovery, which often promotes the use of body-based therapies. The author argues that these findings have important implications for sociology given the body’s symbolic socio-cultural status and how it is used to maintain existing inequalities and inequities, which (re)produce shared forms of trauma and differential access to recovery.

“The first of its kind, this book is essential reading for anyone seeking a rich understanding of the trauma caused by sexual objectification and sexual assault. It is also an inspiring first-hand account of survival and moving forward. Cindy Brooks Dollar’s offering is destined to be a classic piece of feminist scholarship, one that will do much to advance the field.” —Walter DeKeseredy, Anna Deane Carlson Endowed Chair of Social Sciences, Director of the Research Center on Violence, and Professor of Sociology, West Virginia University

“Cindy Brooks Dollar ties together two threads in this book, who we are and who are we meant to be. She threads these questions through the lens of her own traps and visions of self over her life course—and equally through the prisms of social psychology, sociology, philosophy, and scholarship on pain, trauma, and bodies. The result is trail blazing, intensely personal, and scholarly.” —Carol Stack, Author of All Our Kin and Call To Home and Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

“A courageous and pathbreaking work that creatively weaves personal history, social theory and poetry to make a compelling addition to the growing literature on social trauma. Standing on the shoulders of giants, like C. Wright Mills and Kai Erikson, the author exposes how the personal and the historical interface in shaping identity, individual and collective.” —Ron Eyerman, Professor of Sociology, Yale University

“Dr. Cindy Brooks Dollar shares a deeply personal narrative of how the experiences of trauma shifts over a survivor's life, disrupting developmental milestones, teaching false beliefs about one's self-worth and value, and shaping relationships. In doing so, Dr. Dollar provides insight into not only body-based healing, but also the power of self-narrative and creative expression to resist societal inequities and move toward justice and liberation.” —Anneliese A. Singh, Associate Provost for Diversity, Professor of Social Work and Psychology, Tulane University

“Dollar’s impressive book gives a powerful voice to those whose lives have been marked by on-going victimizations. It is a moving personal story and a riveting read.” —Meda Chesney-Lind, Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa