Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Book Reviews -- Women and Families: Feminist Reconstructions by Kristine M. Baber and Katherine R. Allen

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Book Reviews -- Women and Families: Feminist Reconstructions by Kristine M. Baber and Katherine R. Allen

Article excerpt

Many contemporary family studies scholars integrate feminist perspectives into their analysis or at least treat gender as a form of social organization that shapes family life. What distinguishes this book is how Kristine M. Baber and Katherine R. Allen place feminism, women's experiences in families, and a critique of hierarchical gender relations at the center of their analysis.

The authors argue that their "postmodern feminist" perspective is best able to capture the diversity of women's experience because, as they point out, women are not a homogeneous group. Women's lives are shaped, for example, by age, life phase, sexual orientation, social class and race. This book focuses, however, on women as agents and therefore on the choices they make. After setting up their theory and method, Baber and Allen turn to a detailed analysis of women and families, including women's adult relationships, sexualities, reproductive lives, caregiving, and how women's work impacts on family life.

Baber and Allen offer a particularly rich discussion of women's intimate adult relationships. For example, the authors discuss the history and importance of women's friendships, heterosexual and lesbian cohabitation, merger in lesbian relationships, the politics of lesbian nonmonogamy, and women's heterosexual affairs.

I was equally impressed with Baber and Allen's treatment of a range of issues related to women's reproductive lives. In this chapter, the overall theme, which is repeated throughout the book, is that women must have control over their bodies and freedom to make genuine choices in their lives--in this case, in their reproductive lives. …

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