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Book Review Feminist Parenting edited by Dena Taylor

Feminist Parenting: Struggles, Triumphs & Comic InterludesFeminist Parenting: Struggles, Triumphs & Comic Interludes by Dena Taylor

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Edited collections are always difficult to rate because inevitably some of the selections are better than others. This particular volume is difficult to evaluate fairly because it is so dated–published in 1994, most of the authors are writing retrospectively about raising children in the 1970s. Needless to say, both mainstream culture and feminist thought have changed in the intervening years. Nevertheless, many of the concerns remain the same. How do we raise our daughters to have the self confidence to pursue their dreams whether or not those dreams are considered gender appropriate by mainstream society? How do we teach them to navigate a world that will judge their worth based on their worth based on impossible beauty standards? How do we raise our sons to be empathic, compassionate people? How do we teach them to recognize and reject the temptations of patriarchal privilege? How do we educate all our children about institutionalized inequalities of all kinds: how to name them and how to fight for a more just world?

Feminist Parenting contains the personal accounts of women from a variety of races, sexualities, and class backgrounds. Many of the essays are written by single mothers whose feminism inspired them to leave husbands uninterested in gender equality. Absent from the collection are any trans voices, and indeed one mother writes about her anxiety when her young son enjoyed wearing make up and dresses. Given the time at which the volume was published, the absence of trans voices is perhaps not surprising, but the omission makes the book weaker nonetheless.

I rated Feminist Parenting at three stars because I feel that it could have benefited from more thorough editing. The editor seemed to be more interested in compiling essays from as many contributors as possible than in seeking high quality submissions.

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