Rachel's Reviews > Taking Sex Differences Seriously

Taking Sex Differences Seriously by Steven E. Rhoads
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's review
Jan 31, 2010

it was ok
Read in January, 2010

Reading this book mostly infuriated me. Sloppy scholarship, a very clear political agenda, and an over-reliance on anecdotal evidence made Rhoads' central argument an even harder sell than it otherwise would have been: We should return to the gender roles of the 1950s. (If you didn't live through the 1950s, the show Mad Men is a good reminder of what being a woman would have been like during those days.)

But that's not to say that I didn't find portions of the book interesting. "Portions" might be overstating it, actually--more like summaries of individual studies. For instance, did you know that a girl's biological father emits pheromones that delay the onset of menstruation while a step-father's pheromones actually bring on an earlier onset? Fascinating.

And I also sympathize with Rhoads' assertion that the effects of the sexual revolution have been mixed at best. I do believe that there are few women who do not crave companionship and children in addition (or sometimes instead of) a career. And I can see how the availability of relatively "easy" sex prohibits many men from committing to marriage.

However, personal beliefs aside, I am suspect of the "evolutionary psychology" that leads Rhoads to many of his conclusions. Someone better versed in this field correct me if I'm wrong, but everything I've read in this area seems pure conjecture. Like a bunch of people sitting in a room saying "And then humans did THIS! Yeah, that makes sense!"

If you're interested in a scientific study of sex differences, there have got to be better books out there.
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