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Myths of Gender: Biological Theories about Women and Men
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Myths of Gender: Biological Theories about Women and Men

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  189 ratings  ·  13 reviews
By carefully examining the biological, genetic, evolutionary, and psychological evidence, a noted biologist finds a shocking lack of substance behind ideas about biologically based sex differences. Features a new chapter and afterward on recent biological breakthroughs.
Paperback, Revised Edition, 320 pages
Published September 30th 1992 by Basic Books (first published 1987)
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Biology is not a one-way determinant but a dynamic component of our existence.

A surprisingly funny (in a totally snarky way) attack on both positivist essentialism and the idea that science could exist in a political vacuum.
Written by a medical doctor, Myths of Gender explores studies on 'gender', focusing on the medical aspects. Fausto-Sterling discusses genes, hormones, brain differences, animal behavior, homosexuality, and how science affects society. Succinct, objective, and fascinating.
This book is crushingly hard to get through, but I had to for the sake of my Sociology of Women class. I understand what Fausto-Sterling is trying to do here - proving that the "differences of biology" between men and women are tenuous at best - but this book is so steeped in science and theories and that sort of talk that I often fell asleep. I am more interested in the differences between men and women from a psychological and women's studies point of view. Not that the sociological should be ...more
Les Howie
A brilliant demolition of the bad science behind gender-role-affirming memes like "men have better visual-spacial perception than women". While much of the book looks at work from the late 70s and early 80s, some of the ideas are still "common knowledge" today, and the sort of bad science (or at least bad science reporting) that perpetuates those myths is still being done.
It was an interesting read and the author made many good points about research and methods used to enforce our "age old" myths about gender. My only complaint is the book's age; some of the content is outdated. I'd be very interested to read an updated version with commentary regarding new research.
May 15, 2012 Cheryl marked it as skimmed-reference-dnf
Got it from the library, read the introduction, realized it's just *old.* If I'd been studying this stuff all along and wanted an overview or a refutation or something, ok. As is, it's too esoteric & academic and I'd rather start with something pragmatic and written in this century.
Fausto-Sterling challenges the assertions of certain brain scientists and geneticists (among others), and offers a history of scientific misconceptions based on biology. Her main argument is that these gender myths are used to defend or protect the status quo.
Tons of evidence, plus some sharp insight into the weakness of many "studies" on gender difference. Fausto-Sterling dissects commonly held beliefs, neatly comparing what's produced as evidence, but also things that "experts" on gender difference spout from their perches in academia and media.

The writing is frequently dry and didactic, but readable. Occasionally, however, Fausto-Sterling shifts into a more conversational or even sardonic tone, and that's when the book comes alive.
Very interesting book to read. It seemed very "textbook" at times, but the author does a wonderful job of throwing in snarky comments from time to time and elegantly shooting certain theorie down. This is the kind of book that I would suggest you only read if you have a genuine interest and some background in the topic.
Elizabeth Craig
It was way too academic-y for my personal taste, I felt like I was reading a science textbook. I thought it would be more about the psychology behind why transsexuals feel they don't belong to the gender they were assigned with at birth. My mistake, but this was not the book that I was looking for.
Excellent! Review coming soon...
she's fun, funny, and smart.
Utter rubbish...
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