In describing brilliantly the great complexity of sexual identity as an individual, a cultural and a political project, Arlene Stein definitively reshapes our understanding of sexuality. No one, after reading Sex and Sensibility, can think that sexual orientation is an obvious matter."Nancy J. Chodorow, author of Femininities, Masculinities, Sexualities: Freud and Beyond
"Stein does an outstanding job of relating the development of a queer sensibility in the 1990s to the foundation created by gay rights and feminist movements a generation earlier."Ellen Lewin, author of Lesbian Mothers: Accounts of Gender in American Culture
"At last a work that escapes the stultifying quagmire of the feminist 'sex wars' between social constructionism and essentialism. Arlene Stein is the Jane Austen of lesbian identity politics."Judith Stacey, author of
In the Name of the Family
These two books are so similar as to be interchangeable; the only significant difference is that one study was done on the West Coast and the other on the East. Stein (sociology, Univ. of Oregon) interviewed 30 women in the San Francisco area, while Esterberg (sociology and director of women's studies, Univ. of Missouri, Kansas City) interviewed 43 women in an unidentified Northeast community. Focusing on the integration of feminism, antiracism, and social justice with lesbian lives, both discussions are fascinating, and their portrayal of lesbian identity as changeable and fluid is valuable. Although the word bisexual does not appear in Stein's title, her focus on bisexual women is easily as strong as Esterberg's. And Stein's discussion of separatists may be patronizing when she suggests that "separatism would give the lifelong lesbian some insurance that women she became involved with would not leave her for men." Despite these minor flaws, these are both important contributions. Recommended for academic libraries, especially those supporting lesbian, gay, and bisexual studies.Pauline Klein, DeKalb Cty. P.L., Decatur, Ga.