Feminism and Families

By Sanchez, Laura | Journal of Marriage and Family, November 1997 | Go to article overview
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Feminism and Families


Sanchez, Laura, Journal of Marriage and Family


Feminism and Families. Hilde Lindemann Nelson (Ed.). New York: Routledge. 1997. 262 pp. ISBN 0-415-91253-9. $59.95 cloth, $17.95 paper.

Hilde Lindemann Nelson begins her edited volume, Feminism and Families, by making a compelling case that the most influential presses and journals dealing with feminist philosophy and cultural studies show little real interest in family studies. These publications usually examine a constellation of issues relevant to family studies, but rarely undertake direct feminist meditations on families. This volume redresses this omission by offering 16 essays representing a range of traditions, including work by bioethicists, political theorists, psychoanalytic feminists, lesbian theorists, epistemologists, and a sole sociologist. The essays cover a score of topics, including child abuse, postdivorce families, the wars over family values, addictive behaviors, communal living, gay and lesbian family life, artificial insemination, nationalism and family ideology, family therapies, and sexual differences in parenting.

The essays attend to important debates and should generate thought-provoking discussion. Some are fearless about addressing the thornier philosophical dilemmas. The essays by Susan Moller Okin, Linda Nicholson, and Naomi Zack outline feminist perspectives on family history and political philosophy and explore how mythologies about a traditional past frame current normative expectations. This work is some of the strongest in the book, lucidly showing that feminist perspectives are neither anti-family nor antimale. Other fine essays include Mary Romero's study of the class, race, gender, and family politics facing children of women employed as maids and Michele M. Moody-Adam's analysis of why many women eschew being labeled feminist, but have very feminist family values.

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