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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 America 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.
“With clear-cut, modern prose, (Stacey) infuses her commentary and details her investigation from all sides of the aisle with well-researched facts and figures… Clever and practical blend of research, history and anecdote.” -Kirkus Reviews
“An engagingly written and highly readable book that deals with a crucial and controversial related set of issues: the nature of contemporary family life, kinship, love, parenting, intimacy, and how to live with diversity. No one is better qualified to take this on than Judith Stacey. She manages to combine the commitment of the serious ethnographer with the enthusiasm and insight of the eager traveler. This is an essential book.”-Jeffrey Weeks,author of The World We Have Won
“Throughout her travels and exhaustive research, Stacey pokes and prods, and eagerly calls into question everything we think we know about love, marriage, and the baby in the baby carriage.”-Publishers Weekly
"Judith Stacey is a great writer, whose clear style and provocative arguments make her one of the most compelling and most engaging feminist writers of our time."-Social Forces
“Unhitched is Judith Stacey's richest and most provocative work to date. Tirelessly championing diverse varieties of intimate life, she has long refused to succumb to simplistic, homogenizing notions of ‘the family.’ Unhitched continues in this vein, bringing together a fascinating mix of ethnographic research on same-sex intimacies in this country, and plural and non-marital family forms in South Africa and China. It poses a powerful empirical challenge to the belief that the nuclear family—in both its hetero and homo variants—best fulfills our needs for intimacy and security."-Arlene Stein,author of The Stranger Next Door
A candid unearthing of veiled and inviolable topics related to relationships and marriage.
When considering the pros and cons of entering into a marital bond these days, one must recognize the progression and, in many cases, regression of society regarding relationships. For 10 years, Stacey has conducted research based on this rationale, and her captivating results form the basis of a book that unravels the mysteries behind marital—and nonmarital—relationships of all shapes, sizes and colors. With clear-cut, modern prose, the author infuses hercommentary and details her investigation from all sides of the aisle with well-researched facts and figures. Stacey uses gay marriage and polyandrous relationships as a springboard for readers to reflect on the traditional marriage system of one man, one woman, and she turns controversial cultural issues into divisive conjectures. With powerful recognition of "Gay Parenthood and the End of Paternity as We Knew It," the author directly confronts the taboo subject that can be same-sex relationships and their take on parenthood, running the gamut from gay men desperate to adopt, to those who decline, whom she refers to as "refuseniks." Stacey provides acomprehensive look at the varying nature of family structures spanning from the United States to southwest China, and she suggests love and marriage are not necessarily blissfully united.
Clever and practical blend of research, history and anecdote.
Introduction: Tolstoy Was Wrong 1
1 Love, Sex, and Kinship in Gay El Lay 13
2 Gay Parenthood and the End of Paternity as We Knew It 49
3 A South African Slant on the Slippery Slope 89
4 Paradoxes of Polygamy and Modernity 122
5 Unhitching the Horse from the Carriage: Love without Marriage among the Mosuo 152
Conclusion: Forsaking No Others 188
Appendix: A Co-parenting Agreement 209
About the Author 275