Essay on Family as a Site of Belonging and Contestation

Published: 2021-08-04
889 words
4 pages
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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Sociologists view the family as an important unit of the society that plays essential functions. Its functions include socializing children, providing practical and emotional support, provides social identity and regulates sexual activity as well as reproduction. Sociologists assume that every member of the society belongs to a family. It is a view that is supported by Hooks (1990) who argues that every member of the society should belong and settles down in a union or a family. Nevertheless, it has been hotly contested as to whom to be included or excluded when forming a family; should it be exclusively heterosexual or involve homosexual or should it be headed by a man or a woman. Owen (2001) describes the family as a site of contestation to overcome sexism. Drawing on Hooks (1990) and Owen (2001), this paper is going to display how the authors defy the conceptualization of the family as heterosexual and nuclear in the Western nations through a discussion of intersectionality. The paper aims to indicate how racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia, as well as variations in the structure of the family, permit broader definitions of the family to be discussed and expressed in everyday society.

Both Hooks (1990) and Owen (2001) that despite the fact that most of the Western countries have conceptualized the family as being heterosexual, there are other ways of defining and thinking about the family or the home. Hooks (1990) describes the home as a place that can be owned by women. The home is a place of warmth, where true life matters and where souls are nurtured. It is the source of dignity, faith, and integrity. On the other hand, Owen (2001) describes a family as not necessarily being heterosexual but also homosexual which can be established by males of same-sex or females of the same sex. The family is a source of happiness, economic prosperity, social stability and wealth. It strengthens individuals making them less dependent on social assistance. The author goes ahead to posit that families that comprise of different sexes, as well as similar sex, would be more successful if they were recognized through legal means. Therefore, a family or a home should not solely be taught of being heterosexual rather broad and could include homosexuals and even headed by women.

Equally, Hooks (1990) and Owen (2001) demonstrates that various forms of family oppressions such as racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia interrelate and intersect in creating discrimination in the family. Hooks (1990) contents that same-sex individuals who belong to classes of lesbians and gays are marginalized due to negative attitudes such as the belief that legalizing such marriage and families would be a rejection of familial concept established through the sexual connection. The fear of homosexual families tends to overlook the identities of lesbian and gays families and thus to illegalize them by not recognizing it in the law. Gays and lesbians would consequently be oppressed. Similarly, Owen (2001) focuses on oppressions emanating from an intersection of racism and sexism. As a result of sexism, women, mostly the blacks, were delegated home-based tasks such as nurturing and establishing households. The African-American women are dominated double oppressed; both by their husbands and the whites. The whites employ the black women and delegate them household chores, and when they return home, their husbands delegates them all the household operations. Sexism and racism have intersected in causing adverse oppression to the black women in the home. Thus, a discussion of the intersectionality shows the interrelation of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia in causing oppression to marginalized groups.

Nevertheless, Hooks (1990) and Owen (2001) contrasts in the presentation of contestation and inclusion of the family. Hooks (1990) describes a family as a site of contestation in which people of same-sex seek equality and recognition. It seeks an inclusion of the homosexual in law. The author also describes family contestation as a strive for equal powers among the couples who are of the same sex in a family. On the other hand, Owen (2001) views the contestation of the family as being a situation in which the women are fighting for equality with men in a family. Women want to head families, and it becomes a contest between them and men. Also, Hooks (1990) and Owen (2001) have differed in who should be included in a family. While Hooks argues that a family can include people of the same sex, Owen has restricted to men, women, and children. Although Owen mentioned elderly people heading families as single grandfathers or grandmothers, he does not explore that concept on their inclusion in the family.


As people advance, revolutionary changes occur even in family structures. As a result, a revolution has overcome discriminative factors such as racisms, classism, homophobia, and sexism and eventually allowed for family structures that are more than heterosexual; to include homosexuals. Marriages have seen parties contest for equality. The discrimination of one spouse is defeated by time, and now women are fighting for powers in the family. All the same, a family remains as a source of dignity, integrity, faith, and recognition.


Hooks, bell. Homeplace: A site of Resistance. In Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics, edited by b. hooks. 41-43. Toronto: Between the Lines, 1990.

Owen, Michelle K. Family as a Site of Contestation: Queering the Normal or Normalizing the Queer? In a Queer Country: Gay and Lesbian Studies in the Canadian context, edited by T. Goldie. 8698. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2001.

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