Mashing machismo

JAN Intimate Activism COVERIntimate Activism: The Struggle for Sexual Rights in Postrevolutionary Nicaragua
Cymene Howe
2013, Duke University Press
236 pages, paperback, plates

AS A CASE study of the struggle for sexual rights in action, the successful challenge to Nicaragua’s repressive anti-sodomy law after 1990 represents a perfect example of how LGBT activism can change not just laws but attitudes in the more notoriously macho enclaves of Latin America. Cymene Howe’s excellent study of this activism – identifying and exploring the different levels at which it occurred, from mass-media outlets and public protests to clandestine meetings – is also a textbook examination of how pluralism has been built in a post-authoritarian and post-revolutionary society. The law, passed after the Sandinistas lost power in 1990 and considered the most repressive of its kind in the Americas, was repealed in 2007. Howe has compiled a detailed and readable ethnography of gender activism which reveals above all the increasingly transnational character of such identity struggles in the global South.