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FAMILY VALUES: political shorthand for a rigid picture of the family. “Understanding that families d

December 8, 2008

Summary: this popular term is political shorthand for a rigid picture of the family (a male breadwinner and a female homemaker, a decent income, with no divorces, blended families, homosexuality, unwed or single parents). "The capacity of the human mind to resist knowledge is nowhere more painfully illustrated than in the postulate laid down by average minds that home is always to be just what it is now—forgetting that in no two consecutive generations has it remained the same" (Frances E. Willard, 1905). Grace Harkness (in Minnesota Women's Press) says, "As far as I can see, 'family values' means 'hates gays.' " Suzanne Braun Levine (in Sisterhood Is Forever) says, "Understanding that families … do not need 'values' imposed on them but value accorded them has been the agenda of the U.S. Feminist Movement for 150 years." The people who use "family values" are the same ones who vote down bills to ameliorate health care, support education, put food on the table, improve workplace friendliness to families, and establish other social systems essential to the well-being of the family. See also family.

For more information on the forthcoming Unspinning the Spin: The Women’s Media Center Guide to Accurate, Bias-Free Language, click here.

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