Jade's Reviews > Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference

Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine
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Jan 05, 16

really liked it
bookshelves: science, all-time-favourites, feminism
Read in April, 2012 — I own a copy , read count: 1

There have always been many (pseudo)scientific books on the shelves attempting to explain the differences between the sexes, of which the most common differences usually consist of men having a more result-orientated, mathematical approach, and women having a more relationship-orientated, emotional or empathic approach (never mind about non-binary people, queers, etc.). This is usually shown as something that’s unchangeable; something written down by genetics and made clear by the way our brains differ so much from each other. Also, some (if not most) of these books claim that that’s what also causes traditional gender roles – women are simply better suited for housework, and men better suited for business. Often, this is also where an evolutionary argument about caves, hunting, and gathering comes in.

Unfortunately, the tendency to display such dated, sexist views isn’t only found in pseudoscientific writers (an example being the ever annoying book always present in every single bookstore I visit, Men Are from Mars Women Are from Venus by John Gray), but also in qualified scientists or psychologists: The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, being a great example, or The Sexual Paradox: Extreme Men Gifted Women and the Real Gender Gap by Susan Pinker. Though I can’t deny the big influence popular ‘science’ books have on the general reading audience, as an aspiring psychologist myself, the fact that qualified psychologists spew this kind of garbage worries me intensely.

Which is why I’m quite glad to have found this wonderfully well-researched book by Cordelia Fine, in which she attempts to refute many claims made by popular psychology books concerning traditional gender roles/behaviour, and differences between the sexes. Does she succeed? In my opinion, yes, and she does so with humour, solid arguments, and a critical approach. I really enjoyed the fact that she doesn’t only bring up arguments to counter interpretations and results of research used in the aforementioned popular psychology books, but she also attacks the way certain methods of research are used and interpreted (case in point: neuroimaging).

A very complete, interesting, witty, and fun read. I commend Cordelia Fine for writing such a wonderfully clear answer to the dated views on the differences between the sexes, and emphasizing the importance of valid research (and the interpretation of it). I can definitely recommend this to anyone who’s interested in reading more about gender roles/behaviour.
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