Erin's Reviews > Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us

Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein
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's review
Nov 13, 08

bookshelves: nonfiction
Read in November, 2008

While Bornstein raises interesting points (the idea of a third sexuality, neither male nor female), her arguments against recognizing gender suffered from her nearly complete ability to ignore that one key signifier....the ability to bear children, and her failure to discuss this issue within her theories made the whole premise rather circumspect.

In addition, this is an entire book that might have really been two magazine articles; the first would cover Bornstein's thoughts on gender, summarized above, and the second, a discussion of gender as it relates to Bornstein's true love, the theatre. She also includes one of her plays, which takes up nearly a quarter of the book.

I probably wouldn't recommend this to someone looking for a clear study of transsexuality - it's dated and seems like a fair amount of repetitive ramblings, with little substance.
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Comments (showing 1-6)

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message 6: by Justin (new) - added it

Justin She clearly mentioned the ability to bear children as one possible demarcation between the genders, and dismissed it since many women cannot bear children, yet they are still considered women.

Myth The biggest issue with her book is how disorganized it is. She includes a lot of (sometimes random) information and buffers it with inserts. I can hardly recall her mentioning much about the biological aspects of "gender", but it was in there.

She also mentioned transgender in the face of the Internet and how people could pretty much be whatever the heck they wanted. That's kind of a funny thing to think about, but she didn't stay on that topic for long. She only stayed on a few topics for very long and her play was more insightful than a lot of the random snippets.

Bornstein is a creative person who thinks big and passionately. Look carefully, everything about her mindset is in her art. The rest of the book, at best, is a memoir with some interesting parts and at the worst a ranting blog.

Her books is important though. In more modern books and essays about social gender her book is often referenced.

message 4: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline Quackenbush I haven't read this book and therefor hold no opinion on it, but I would like to point out that the term "gender" refers to the social construction of sexuality while "sex" refers to the biological construct, therefor the idea of gender is not impeded by the biological act of baring children (but sex is).

message 3: by Beaty (new)

Beaty Richardson child bearing has little to no weight on GENDER, as i am biologically female and yet cannot bear children.

message 2: by Taz (new) - rated it 5 stars

Taz Good lord, it certainly doesn't seem as though you actually read the point while pointing out topics that certainly were mentioned. Also, agreed with previous comments, Gender is not one's Sex. I'm relatively certain that is one of the most fundamental points of people trying to educate the masses about those of us who do not fit the ridiculous binary system society tries to shoehorn everyone into.

message 1: by Jae (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jae Kate's pronouns are ze/hir

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