Sandra Lipsitz Bem's An Unconventional Family

1576 Words 7 Pages
Gender remains a contentious and among the most explored concept in many academic fields, including psychology. Some theorists and researchers base their perspectives on neurochemical, biological and evolutionary factors while others base their gender arguments on culture and socialization. While the division on what entails gender continues, there have been different attempts to eliminate the issue of gender roles in society. In An Unconventional Family, Sandra Lipsitz Bem provides a memoir describing their attempt with her husband to defy family traditions. The book provides an account of an unconventional couple that was determined to go against pre-determined gender roles in society. This paper reviews Bem’s book to determine its contribution …show more content…
She describes why she and Daryl were drawn to each other and what motivated them to be “gender pioneers.” She analysis her and Daryl’s families of origin. The section provides important insights on why she and her husband were determined to change the way conventional heterosexual marriage functioned. However, she failed to explain why she accepted her husband’s surname. Taking husband’s surname was among traditions she seemed to denounce. It was part of gender socialization. The second section, “Writing Our Script,” Sandra describes her marriage experience. They created their form of life because their social world did not provide them with the life they wanted (Bem, 1998, p. 69). She describes how they played their roles before and after their children were born. She also describes their efforts to introduce their children to a system that was against the “culture’s sex and gender system” (Bem, 1998, p. 104). For instance, both took turns in “homemaking” and “breadwinning.” However, they also allowed their son and daughter to have traditional male and female experiences. They also restricted their children from reading books that had gender stereotypes. They also taught their children to be skeptical of conventional cultural ideas about gender and sex. For instance, they allowed their son Jeremy to attend nursery school with …show more content…
It provides accounts of a family that was determined to defy societal construction of gender. It can, therefore, be argued to be an important complement to studies on gender and how issues such as gender inequalities and sexism can be eliminated from society. Sandra believes that children need to be taught about culture’s sex and gender system while still young. That way, the will grow with “gender-liberated, anti-homophobic, and sex-positive feminist ideals” (Bem, 1998, p. x). The memoir also shows the importance of involving children in their upbringing. Interview with Bem’s children shows children views are important. The memoir, however, has some shortcomings. Sandra argues that she supported egalitarian ideals but seems to contradict herself in some cases. For instance, she took her husband surname and also spent more time taking care of children than her husband. Besides, the memoir does not provide enough details about how the relationship of the couple was egalitarian. Sandra only says that they had agreed to take turns on performing their family roles and to bring their children without traditional stereotypes of gender. While the agreement can be argued to be a significant step in the sixties and seventies, the relationship seems to have favored one side, especially when the last section of the book shows Sandra as one

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