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The Family of Woman

Lesbian Mothers, Their Children, and the Undoing of Gender

Maureen Sullivan (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 323 pages
ISBN: 9780520239647
September 2004
$34.95, £28.00
Other Formats Available:
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.

1. The Emergence of Lesbian-Coparent Families in Postmodern Society
2. Becoming Parents: Baby Making in the Age of Assisted Procreation
3. Being Parents: The End of Oedipus and the Expansion of Intimacy
4. Undoing the Gender Division of Labor
5. Truth and Reconciliation: Families of Origin Come Around and Come Out
6. Becoming Familiar in the Community of Strangers
7. The Structure of Donor-Extended Kinship
8. The Theoretical Future of a Conscious Feminist Kinship

Appendix: Families by the Bay: The Study Design, Method, and Participants
Maureen Sullivan is Assistant Professor of Sociology, Northern Illinois University.
“An important and much needed contribution to family studies and gay and lesbian studies.”—American Journal Of Sociology / AJS
“A major contribution to earlier challengers of the so-called family normative.”—Elsa Bruguier Multicultural Review
"As lesbian mothers boldly go where no family has gone before, Maureen Sullivan bears witness to their courageous ingenuity and achievements. Providing the most illuminating, theoretically sophisticated account to date of how the lesbian co-parented family is quietly shattering the existing gender order, this book expertly weaves captivating ethnographic family portraits into the broader social and political tapestry of our fiercely fought contemporary family revolution. Scholarly, provocative, witty, and deeply humane, The Family of Woman is that precious rarity—a genuinely original, profound scholarly work that is a joy to read."—Judith Stacey, author of In the Name of the Family

"Sullivan makes a compelling argument that lesbian families challenge, at root, the very basis of patriarchal familial norms, and indeed modern notions of biological fixity. A provocative, fascinating study."—Arlene Stein, author of Sex and Sensibility: Stories of a Lesbian Generation

"A notable document of the quiet social revolution that is producing new forms of the family. Maureen Sullivan tells the stories of the lesbian women who have created coparenting families, and have made them viable, often in the face of prejudice. Her research is carefully reasoned and insightful. The implications for our understanding of families, gender equality, and child development are immense."—R.W. Connell, author of Gender and Power

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