First off, this book includes an awesome collection of interviews. I was particularly excited for to see contributions from three great sex educators, Tristan Taormino, Wendy-O Matik, and Betty Dodson, and awesome comic artist Erika Moen.
The book is broken into seven chapters. Each of these chapters contains practical advice for navigating relationships. Most of these chapters also challenge the view that relationships should all progress in the same direction, towards an exclusive permanent marriage with children.
Loving Being Single suggests that you don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy. Navigating Non-Monogamy tackles the idea that exclusivity is always preferable. Staying Childless by Choice takes on the pressure for everyone to have kids. On Never Getting Married discusses the reasons for not forming a legal union. And Knowing When To Split faces how sometimes ending a relationships is the best option.
Two chapters are a bit different. Building Feminist Relationships and Gender is Messy contend with gender roles and gender identity, and look for positive ways to take on gender issues to build positive relationships.
We need more books like this. We need more books that acknowledge that one kind of relationship doesn’t work for everyone, and that people can define relationships on their own terms. And we just need more books that talk about non-monogamy, not getting married, and not having kids.
We need more books that incorporate feminism into advice for daily life too. We need more books that examine how to have positive, progressive relationships. We need more books that challenge how we conduct intimate relationships in critical ways. And we need more books that do all that with honesty, sincerity, and humor.
My biggest complaint about the book is the territory it doesn’t explore. The introduction makes passing references to asexuality and kink, but I’d like to hear more. I’d like to hear more about other ways people buck relationships conventions too, like couples that decide to keep separate residences or spend more time apart.
I also wish it examined more of the ways these topics overlap, like the options for raising children within a nonmonogamous relationship, or specific challenges of not being married if you do have kids. And I wish the book looked closer at where taking these less common routes made it harder or easier to build feminist relationships.
There’s so much this book didn’t cover, but that’s not really a flaw. There’s a lot it does include, and it builds groundwork that could lead to more. As I said, we need more books like this.