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Feminist Perspectives on the Family – Lesbian and Heterosexual Women

  • Date Submitted: 04/26/2012 01:46 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 26 
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Feminist Perspectives on the Family – Lesbian and Heterosexual Women
This germinal book provides a much needed insight into the ways that sexuality shapes the working and domestic lives of non-heterosexual women. By drawing on the life histories of 60 lesbian women from different social backgrounds at different stages of their life cycles Gillian Dunne graphically charts their experiences through childhood and schooling to adulthood and paid work. In so doing she illustrates how many of the women in the transitional period from childhood to adolescence 'felt at odds with the dictates of emphasized femininity and romantic heterosexuality' (p. 39). What is fascinating here is how Dunne explains that for these women the existence of 'avenues of escape' was important. One such avenue was sport, where a significant number of the women explained how it offered them a source of positive esteem. This is a revealing fact since it is well documented that many young women reject sport because of its association with images of muscle, sweat and showers. This raises interesting questions about our understanding of the place of sport in the lives of women and in particular sporting dykes. Sport, like the other avenues of escape (namely the 'historical period', ie. 'schooling before the 'sexual revolution' of the mid-1960s' (p. 75), single-sex schooling and educational success) that Dunne refers to could all be usefully explored further.
From her research data Dunne develops a theory of sexuality which problematizes heterosexuality and links lesbian lifestyles with economic independence and empowerment. Thus, in exploring the lifestyles of these lesbian women Dunne challenges dominant accounts of women's working and domestic lives and indeed part of her project is to render lesbian lives more visible. Existing work she rightly argues has largely ignored issues of sexuality and thereby failed to recognize the impact, both positively and negatively, of different forms of...

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