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War, Sex, and Fantasies o Betrayal
A provocative analysis o how andwhy Jane Fonda the person becameHanoi Jane the myth
From Aristophanes’ Lysistrata to thenotorious Mata Hari and the legendaryTokyo Rose, stories o emale betrayal dur-ing wartime have recurred throughouthuman history. The myth o Hanoi Jane, Jerry Lembcke argues, is simply the latestvariation on this enduring theme. Likemost o the iconic emmes atales whocame beore, it is based on a real person, Jane Fonda. And also like its predecessors,it combines traces o act with heavy doseso ction to create a potent symbol o em-inine perdy—part erotic warrior-womanBarbarella, part savvy antiwar activist,and part powerul entrepreneur.
, the book, deconstructsHanoi Jane, the myth, to locate its originsin the need o Americans to explaindeeat in Vietnam through antasies o home-ront betrayal and the emasculationo the national will-to-war. Lembckeshows that the expression “Hanoi Jane”did not reach the eyes and ears o mostAmericans until ve or six years ater theend o the war in Vietnam. By then, anxi-eties about America’s declining globalstatus and deteriorating economy wereueling a populist reaction that pointed tothe loss o the war as the taproot o thoseproblems. Blaming the antiwar movementor undermining the military’s resolve,many ound in the imaginary Hanoi Janethe personication o their stab-in-the-back theories.Ground zero o the myth was the cityo Hanoi itsel, which Jane Fonda hadvisited as a peace activist in July
.Rumors surrounding Fonda’s visits withU.S. POWs and radio broadcasts to troopscombined to conjure allegations o trea-son that had cost American lives. Thatsuch tales were more imagined than realdid not prevent them rom insinuatingthemselves into public memory, wherethey have continued to inect Americanpolitics and culture.
is a book about the makingo Hanoi Jane by those who saw a ormi-dable threat in the Jane Fonda who sup-ported soldiers and veterans opposed tothe war they ought, in the postcolonialstruggle o the Vietnamese people to maketheir own uture, and in the movementso women everywhere or gender equality.“This is not a narrowly ocused eortto compare the ‘real’ Jane Fonda to theimage o ‘Hanoi Jane.’ Rather, Lembckeshows how Fonda’s demonization playedan important part in a powerul right-wing campaign to attribute Americandeeat in Vietnam to let-wing scapegoatsand to reconstitute U.S. power as wellas the ideal o aggressive masculinity.”—Christian G. Appy, author o
Patriots:The Vietnam War Remembered rom All Sides
“Pulsing with brilliant insights andinvaluable scholarship,
ismuch more than a biography o a singlemyth. It is an exploration o some o thetangled cultural, psychological, and his-torical strands that constitute Americanmemory o the Vietnam War, memorywith proound infuence on Americanculture and behavior in the last quartero the twentieth century and the rstdecade o the twenty-rst.”—H. Bruce Franklin, author o
Vietnamand Other American Fantasies
is proessor o sociology atThe College o the Holy Cross and authoro
The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, andthe Legacy o Vietnam
American Studies / Cultural Studies224 pp.$22.95t paper, ISBN 978-1-55849-815-0$80.00 cloth, ISBN 978-1-55849-814-3 June 2010
A volume in the series Culture, Politics, and the Cold War