Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Unhitched: Love, Marriage, and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Unhitched: Love, Marriage, and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China

Article excerpt

Judith Stacey. UNHITCHED: LOVE, MARRIAGE, AND FAMILY VALUES FROM WEST HOLLYWOOD TO WESTERN CHINA New York: New York University Press, (2011 ), 275 pages. ISBN 13:978-0-8147-83 82-5

Reviewed by: Amanda J. Miller, Department of Social Sciences, University of Indianapolis.

In her new book, Unhitched: Love, Marriage, and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China, Judith Stacey invites the reader to, in her words, "...travel light, leaving behind as much cultural baggage as possible" while exploring the world of family diversity. In it, Stacey draws upon her considerable expertise as a family scholar to explore and combat many Western assumptions about the importance of traditional, heterosexual, monogamous marriage. Along the way she acts as engaging tour guide, leading us through a variety of somewhat new (as well as very old) family types. While Stacey is clear she believes that strong, happy families can come in many forms, she challenges Focus on the Family and feminists alike in in her continual pursuit to demonstrate that no one person, group, or society should have the power to decide what type of family is best for all.

Stacey begins the first two chapters in Los Angeles, California by highlighting the results of her field research with gay men. In Chapter One, she focuses on the intimate relationships these men share with others, concluding that gay intimacy may challenge traditional patterns of partner similarity and offer us an opportunity to redefine fidelity. In the next chapter, she asks the same men about their fatherhood feelings and experiences. I give Stacey praise for doing what many authors on parenthood fail to do. She presents her data as a spectrum, highlighting the experiences of the (very few) vehemently childfree and a more sizable group of those for whom parenthood desires are situational before turning toward those who feel called to become parents. Her stories of families, formed through surrogacy, adoption, fostering, and biology, illustrate that children's outcomes are largely dependent on the fact that they are loved regardless of whether they have one, two, or in a few cases, four loving parents in their lives.

The next sub-section of the book is composed of Chapters Three and Four. Here, Stacey turns her focus toward debunking many of the "slippery slope" arguments that have been offered in the United States as an obstruction for legalizing gay marriage. …

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