Rethinking Sexual Citizenship

By Jyl J. Josephson

Subjects: Political Science, Public Policy, Women's Studies, Gender Studies, Lesbian / Gay Studies
Series: SUNY series in Queer Politics and Cultures
Paperback : 9781438460482, 254 pages, January 2017
Hardcover : 9781438460475, 254 pages, May 2016

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Table of contents

List of Tables

1. Sexual Citizenship

2. Welfare Policy and the Politics of Sexual Deviance

3. The Politics of Sexual Shaming: Abstinence-Only Sex Education

4. Defense of Marriage Acts and the Politics of Sexual Regulation

5. Sexual Citizenship after the White Hegemonic Heteronormative Family


Offers a more democratic way to think about families, politics, and public life.


Public policy often assumes there is one correct way to be a family. Rethinking Sexual Citizenship argues that policies that enforce this idea hurt all of us and harm our democracy. Jyl J. Josephson uses the concept of "sexual citizenship" (a criticism of the assumption that all families have a heterosexual at their center) to show how government policies are made to punish or reward particular groups of people. This analysis applies sexual citizenship not only to policies that impact LGBTQ families, but also to other groups, including young people affected by abstinence-only public policies and single-parent families affected by welfare policy. The book also addresses the idea that the "normal" family in the United States is white. It concludes with a discussion of how scholars and activists can help create a more inclusive democracy by challenging this narrow view of public life.

Jyl J. Josephson is Associate Professor of Political Science and Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers University–Newark. She is the author of Gender, Families, and State: Child Support Policy in the United States and the coeditor (with Sue Tolleson-Rinehart) of Gender and American Politics: Women, Men, and the Political Process.


"…Rethinking Sexual Citizenship is a rigorously theorized and historically informed analysis whose contribution to the fields of sexuality studies and American politics is both thrilling and timely. " — H-Net Reviews (H-Citizenship)