The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap
New York, NY: Basic, 1992. Print.
The author of this book has a Bachelor of Art degree in American History
from the University of California, Berkeley. She has written 5 books that have been
translated to many different languages, and also had articles published in the New York
Times, The Observer/Guardian, The Times of London, Wall Street Journal, Salon,
Washington Post, Newsweek, Harper's, Vogue, LIFE, Time-LIFE Books, and Mirabella,
as well as articles in academic and professional journals. She has won numerous awards
relating to her work and Coontz now teaches history and family studies at the Evergreen
State College in Washington and is Director of Research and Public Education for the
Council on Contemporary Families.
In Coontz’s book she goes in depth about the “traditional family” that
everyone idealizes and pictures when they hear the word family. In the first chapter of her
book she uses the example of one of her family history classes and describes an
assignment she gives to her students where she tells them to “write down what comes to
mind when they think of the ‘traditional family’” (8). She receives a variety of responses
that have to do with “nurturing mothers shelter[ing] their children” and “men and women
remain[ing] chaste until marriage” (8). In later chapters Coontz’s goes on to describe the
“golden age” and examines why so many people view a traditional family in such a way
when in reality the majority of families have not been like that since the 1900s.
This is relevant to my paper because I want my audience to know that
even though we imagine this traditional, perfect family that once existed in America, it is
rarely possible in this day and age. Divorce, work, adultery, and many other factors play a
major role in preventing the “old-fashioned” marriage we see in old movies and TV
shows. So why should we limit rights and deny gay and lesbian couples the opportunity
to have their own “perfect family” the way they envision it? Her analysis of the perfect
family we all have in our minds shows us that we can break away and create new images
since we are in a new era anyways which benefits my thesis and shows there is no
“traditional family,” just our fear of homosexuals.
Herek, Gregory M. "Gender Gaps in Public Opinion about Lesbians and Gay
1st ser. 66 (2002): 40-66. Print.
The author of this journal has a Ph.D in psychology from the University of
California, Davis, where he is currently a professor of psychology. Herek has published
108 papers and chapters in scholarly books and journals and has made over 85
presentations at professional conferences and meetings. He is an advocate on scientific
research against hate crimes and has worked with many organizations. He has won many
awards for his research and devotion.
This article has to deal with public opinion on gay and lesbian relations. A