The Family of Woman: Lesbian Mothers, Their Children, and the Undoing of Gender

The Family of Woman: Lesbian Mothers, Their Children, and the Undoing of Gender

The Family of Woman: Lesbian Mothers, Their Children, and the Undoing of Gender

The Family of Woman: Lesbian Mothers, Their Children, and the Undoing of Gender

Synopsis

Amidst the shrill and discordant notes struck in debates over the make-up--or breakdown--of the American family, the family keeps evolving. This book offers a close and clear-eyed look into a form this change has taken most recently, the lesbian coparent family. Based on intensive interviews and extensive firsthand observation, The Family of Woman chronicles the experience of thirty-four families headed by lesbian mothers whose children were conceived by means of donor insemination.With its intimate perspective on the interior dynamics of these families and its penetrating view of their public lives, the book provides rare insight into the workings of emerging family forms and their significance for our understanding of "family"--and our culture itself.

Excerpt

At the stroke of midnight on January 2003, a baby born to a lesbian couple in Washington, D.C., became, to great media fanfare, the capital’s first newborn of the year. At the time of her arrival the baby’s mothers were moving their residence to a district where the nonbiological mother could legally adopt the baby she had helped bring into the world, because she was prohibited from doing so in the place she and her partner worked and lived and called home. On June 26 of that same year, the United States Supreme Court overturned an antisodomy law on the books in the state of Texas, ruling, effectively, that the private sexual activity of consenting adults is none of the government’s business. and when, during the early summer of 2003, Canada became the third country in the world to recognize same-sex marriage at the national level, streams of gay and lesbian couples made their way to Toronto, Ottawa, and other metropolitan centers to be legally wed.

These three events do more than tell us about the state of social and political acceptance of the rights of same-sex couples in these two regions in North America. They point to social changes in the industrialized world that have been underway since at least the latter part of the twentieth century—changes in which sexuality and procreation have become uncoupled and baby making of all sorts, including the hi-tech and clinical kind, has increasingly occurred outside heterosexual marriage. Governments re-

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