An Unconventional Family

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Yale University Press, 2001 - History - 209 pages
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In 1965, when psychologists Sandra and Daryl Bem met and married, they were determined to function as truly egalitarian partners and also to raise their children in accordance with gender-liberated, anti-homophobic, and sex-positive feminist ideals. During the next ten years, they exuberantly shared the details of their daily lives in both public lectures and the mass media in order to provide at least one concrete example of an alternative to the traditional heterosexual family. In the 1990s, Sandra Bem also published an award-winning book, The Lenses of Gender, which spelled out the feminist theory behind their feminist practices.
This second book by Sandra Bem, an autobiographical account of the Bems` nearly thirty-year marriage, is both a personal history of the Bems` past and a social history of a key period in feminism`s past. It is also a look into feminism`s future, because the Bems` children, Emily and Jeremy, now in their early twenties, speak at length in the book as well.

Bem analyzes what aspects of family background and psychological makeup led her and Daryl to bond so immediately and to become gender pioneers. She describes the egalitarianism and feminist child-rearing that they invented for their private needs and tells how these family agendas were transformed into public feminist discourse. Finally she reassesses this early feminist union now that the marriage has come to an end and the children are young adults, evaluating (with the help of lengthy interviews with Emily and Jeremy and a brief epilogue by Daryl) what the Bems` experiences--both positive and negative--have to say about the viability and necessity of nontraditional gender arrangements in society today.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

An unsatisfying look back at the (now-defunct) marriage of an academic husband and wife who pioneered gender equality and encouraged their children to be sexually liberated—that is, comfortable with ... Read full review

An unconventional family

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In this fascinating autobiography, Bem--Cornell psychology professor, lecturer, and author (The Lenses of Gender, Yale Univ., 1993)--provides details of the life experiences that led her and husband ... Read full review


Why Daryl?
Community of Family
Egalitarian Partnering
Feminist ChildRearing
My Unorthodox Career
Egalitarian Partnering Revisited
Feminist ChildRearing Revisited

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Growing Good Hearts
Candace A. Croft
No preview available - 2005
Growing Good Hearts
Candace A. Croft
No preview available - 2005
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About the author (2001)

Sandra Bem is professor of psychology and women's studies at Cornell University. In 1995 she was selected as an "Eminent Woman in Psychology" by the Divisions of General Psychology and the History of Psychology of the American Psychological Association.

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