Unhitched: Love, Marriage, and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China (Google eBook)
A leading expert on the family, Judith Stacey is known for her provocative research on mainstream issues. Finding herself impatient with increasingly calcified positions taken in the interminable wars over same-sex marriage, divorce, fatherlessness, marital fidelity, and the like, she struck out to profile unfamiliar cultures of contemporary love, marriage, and family values from around the world.
Built on bracing original research that spans gay men's intimacies and parenting in this country to plural and non-marital forms of family in South Africa and China, Unhitched decouples the taken for granted relationships between love, marriage, and parenthood. Countering the one-size-fits-all vision of family values, Stacey offers readers a lively, in-person introduction to these less familiar varieties of intimacy and family and to the social, political, and economic conditions that buttress and batter them.
Through compelling stories of real families navigating inescapable personal and political trade-offs between desire and domesticity, the book undermines popular convictions about family, gender, and sexuality held on the left, right, and center. Taking on prejudices of both conservatives and feminists, Unhitched poses a powerful empirical challenge to the belief that the nuclear family--whether straight or gay--is the single, best way to meet our needs for intimacy and care. Stacey calls on citizens and policy-makers to make their peace with the fact that family diversity is here to stay.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
The fundamental premise of Stacey's book is that monogamous, heterosexual marriage is: a) Not the only viable form of pair-bonding, b) Not the overwhelmingly dominate form in human history, c) Not necessarily the "best" form In pursuit of this thesis, she presents data and opinion based upon her researches, looking at permutations of gay marriages and unions (somewhat less so at lesbian relationships), non-exclusive relationships, polygamous/polyamorous relationships, and some unique matriarchal, non-marital practices in a part of China. If there is a central tenet of her arguments, it is that love and marriage don't always go together like a horse and carriage. Since I'm going to list a few problems I had with this book, let me start by saying that it is a book well worth reading. If your religious beliefs do not permit flexibility about human relationships, it is still full of fascinating sociological study. If that is not true, then there is the added benefit of the thought-provoking questions it raises. The ideas and questions she raises are quite fascinating and, in my view, quite relevant in Western society of today. Her research is intriguing to read about. I do, however, think that her conclusions are somewhat suspect. Though she refrains from stating a recipe for successful relationships, I felt she implied that if we just "take a little of A from here, and a drop of B from there, mix in some C and stir with a lot of tolerance" that all would be well. It's a facile approach that assumes that transplanted behaviors and beliefs would function identically in a different context. Perhaps I mis-read between the lines; other readers can form their own judgments. There are also some overt statements that caused me to raise an eyebrow. For example: "Musuo children have no fathers"—hogwash. (Traditional Musuo relationships are matrilineal, matrilocal and matriarchal; and biological fatherhood was not important.) Of course they do. The social role of father is simply played by maternal uncles rather than biological fathers. Biology is not essential, as adoption shows. In a way, these deficiencies (as I perceive them) don't really hurt because they become little speed bumps that joggle you out of the flow and cause you to challenge what you are reading. It's a well-written book that avoids academic fustiness. It's full of topical questions ranging from LGBT issues, to child rearing, to the rash of high-profile cheating scandals that seem to occur disproportionately on the conservative side of our country's leadership.
Review: Unhitched: Love, Marriage, and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western ChinaUser Review - Goodreads
Very heady....but very good. She writes about some eye opening perspectives.
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