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Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,553 ratings  ·  246 reviews
Many people believe that, at its core, biological sex is a fundamental, diverging force in human development. According to this overly familiar story, differences between the sexes are shaped by past evolutionary pressures: Women are more cautious and parenting-focused, while men seek status to attract more mates. In each succeeding generation, sex hormones and male and fe ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 24th 2017 by W. W. Norton Company
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Mona I would suggest starting with Delusions of Gender -- it has more of a focus on socially constructed notions of gender in western and non-western…moreI would suggest starting with Delusions of Gender -- it has more of a focus on socially constructed notions of gender in western and non-western societies, as well as throughout history. Testosterone Rex focuses more on analyzing and critiquing commonly referenced theories in evolutionary biology.(less)

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3.77  · 
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 ·  1,553 ratings  ·  246 reviews

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This is a book that argues against the traditionalist idea that basic biology means men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and never the twain shall meet. The different behavioural traits and social outcomes that men and women have are mostly down to social structures, Fine believes, not hormones or neurochemistry; in particular, testosterone is not some kind of magic substance that makes men stereotypically ‘masculine’, except for all the physical ways in which it definitely does. But, Fine a ...more
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: evolution, gender, science
I’ve enjoyed all three of the books by Fine I’ve read – but particularly Delusions of Gender, which was and is one of the best books on gender I’ve ever read. This book won an award for the best science book of 2017. I’ve so far bought it for 3 people – two of which have been my daughters.

Delusions of Gender is a book that considers how differences in male and female brains help to explain the all too obvious differences between the sexes. And it concludes that much of this brain science is gro
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
This has really inspired me to stop reading popular science books by random people I find under the "feminism" tag on Goodreads. This book is not scientific & makes a lot of unprovable assertions not backed up by studies. For example, 97% of domestic abusers are male and she literally explains this by saying it's caused by the pressure of conforming to gender stereotypes. How does she know?? There's no study; that's just an opinion.

Once she cited a study showing that one time men and women
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a much-needed review of the outdated scientific interpretations of the role of testosterone on behavior. From the earliest experiments, Fine shows how value-laden and culturally reinforcing many of these "scientific" experiments are. To sum up a wonderfully entertaining and thorough investigation of the history of sex hormone research Fine points out that the current agreed upon model is that behavior influences hormones more than hormones influence behavior. There are many studies that ...more
Peter Geyer
Cordelia Fine has appeared somewhat controversial in a controversy-cluttered area, to the extent that I had avoided her work, notwithstanding it being in and around a topic of great interest, and it wasn't until I read something about her and this book in a kind of interview/review that I decided to test out what she had to say.

Fine's area of interest is broadly what scientific research can tell us about makes and females, as categories, inclinations and behaviours with respect to various groups
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-science
As someone who is used to reading about this topic in scientific articles, a book directed at people with very basic knowledge about sexual selection, mate choice and evolution in general, I can say that it was a bit hard to get through.

For one, I didn't like that all of the citations were in the end of the book, which meant that I needed to constantly flip pages to check the articles mentioned in the main text. But again, for someone who isn't interested in them, reading a text without citation
Jan 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
This book has an agenda and the author cherry picks her data and chooses conclusions that match the way she wants the world to be. I wouldn't say the book is full of lies, but manipulating the data and omission is certainly present here. If you align yourself with her views I am sure you will enjoy this book and it will affirm your worldview, otherwise not.
Todd Martin
Male and Female Peacocks

As everyone knows by now human behavior is a combination of nature and nurture. However, when it comes to the differences in behaviors between the sexes, Cordelia Fine (an academic psychologist and writer) believes nature has nothing to with it. She makes her argument as to why in Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society.

In other words, she’d likely take issue with Tom Bodett’s observation that “my boys used to chew their toast into the shape of a gun and then
The gender issue is a hot topic at the moment, for decades we have been led to believe that ‘boys will be boys’, that pink and blue toys are entirely suitable for the appropriate sex and that men have evolved to take risks because of the extra testosterone swishing about and that the female brain is utterly different to the male brain.

Psychologist, Cordelia Fine, is having none of it.

The ‘nature versus nurture’ argument is dragged up frequently, but by using arguments from social history, psycho
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gender
I had read Cordelia Fine's earlier book, "Delusions of Gender", a while back, enjoyed it greatly, and so I was eager to read her next book. "Testosterone Rex" did not disappoint. Fine has a delightful writing style, combining personal anecdote and a great deal of humor with clear arguments and large amounts of evidence supporting her views. This book was perhaps a drier topic, at least to me, with a great deal of biology, but I nonetheless found the book fascinating, and many of the key argument ...more
Inderjit Sanghera
One-by-one Cordelia Fine upends various modern myths surrounding gender stereotypes, or, to be more specific, fables surrounding testosterone as somehow being the magic bullet which justifies all sorts if illusions; men are inherently greater risk-takers, men are hard-wired for promiscuity, men thrive in stressful scenarios. Testosterone continues to be used to justify male privilege, to justify ideas surrounding toxic masculinity, whether it be the propensity for domestic violence or for male d ...more
Matty Esco
May 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
A collection of vague attacks on human sexual dimorphism using still vaguer statistics from self-report questionnaires resulting in outlandish claims like "Men prefer to have sex with women they are emotionally attached to" and "Upbringing has an impact on sexual behavior". Take that, Patriarchy! Two stars because some of the science was good.

For future reference: If you encountered someone who started every third sentence with "As a libertarian", "as an existentialist", or "as an atheist", you
Mar 05, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There is no science in this book.

The author fails miserably to demonstrate to the reader the scientific evidence behind her claims, one after another... Indeed, the only myths are those perpetuated by the author.

Leaving unmentioned entire bodies of scientific findings can only be a sign of two things: ignorance or purposeful propagandizing. I think the latter is more probable since I suspect that the author thinks that by burying scientific evidence (or not mentioning it) helps the cause of fig
Jeremy S
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
As a new dad, I have had frequent conversations with my wife about all of the gender-neutral discussions taking place with kids toys/clothing etc. so I was delightfully intrigued to see this book come up and I gave it a read.

It is a feminist book, and already there may be men going "oh no..." but it was a very good read, no matter who you are (which I think is further to Fine's point on gender stereotypes)!

The whole book breaks down the myth that Testosterone is what fuels erratic/impulsive beha
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Testosterone Rex’ is a follow up to Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference, both of which are excellent demolitions of sexist pseudo-scientific nonsense. The first tackled misinterpretations of neuroscience. The second deals with misinterpretations of research on hormones, specifically the oversimplification that men are risk-takers and women aren't because testosterone. Fine’s tone in both books is one of controlled sardonic rage, which I have every symp ...more
Michael Livingston
Jan 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I really loved Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference, so I had high hopes for Cordelia Fine's follow-up, Testosterone Rex. It's a well put together argument against the idea that biological sex, and particularly testosterone, determines behaviour, but it didn't impress me nearly as much as I was expecting.

I found myself much more sceptical of Fine's presentation of the evidence here - wanting more meta-analyses or systematic reviews over neat and interes
Feb 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: constructs
There is some really important information in this book that, in my opinion, could have been delivered in a more relatable manner. This is a subject that is of interest to many but the language was not really inclusive. This book was clearly aimed at academics with a background in gender studies. I felt as if I were in class- and not a class in which we were all taking part in wonderful debates or discussions, but rather a class where I felt that I had to sift through jargon to really appreciate ...more
Brian Clegg
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It seems that books about the myth of gendered minds are somewhat like busses - wait ages for one, then two come along close together. I've already reviewed the superb Inferior by Angela Saini, so it was fascinating to be able to contrast Cordelia Fine's impressive Testosterone Rex.

This is a full-on take on the whole business of the ways that men and women aren't (and are) different. You may think that there's no need to do this in today's world. After, all, we all recognise gender equality, don
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is both a brilliant and hilarious book. I've always thought the only essential difference culturally between women and men was that men spit and women didn't. This book is a great refutation of patriarchal society and the studies (always by men) that confirmed their pre-existing biases. To me, it's incredible to what lengths rich white men will go to develop theories that back up their starting point, which is--the way we are is normative, and I'll prove it by going back and showing that du ...more
Fantastically informative, smart, compelling, and (most unexpectedly) funny. I really enjoyed this audiobook - the narrator was fantastic, btw. I will admit that often when I read science writing I feel like I am eating my peas. (Well, not really because I like peas and in truth they are not really healthy, but that is the expression and people think its weird when you say it is like eating really gross things like tinned sardines or flourless chocolate cake.) But this book was really a fun read ...more
Mar 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: libra-kot
This book is full of bs.
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This was fantastic, packed with incredibly interesting research, but packaged in a jokesy, light voice.

Cordelia Fine’s thesis is this: she rejects the “testosterone rex” viewpoint, which is basically sexual essentialism, or the idea that biological differences like testosterone can explain our behaviour; it says that men are Manly Men and women are Wispy Women. Cordelia Fine agrees that biology certainly has a role in our behaviour, but it’s always entangled with culture- and in fact, culture h
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Written by an Australian professor who challenges the idea that human sexuality is binary and fixed, I like her style of arguing, where she begins by carefully summarizing the evidence behind something, and then shows how looking at the whole story may show a different conclusion.

For decades, sociobiologists have pointed out that, biologically, females are severely limited in their total number of potential descendants — you can only become pregnant so many times — but males can have a near infi
A few months ago I had a long discussion with a male friend about gender equality. I think we were talking (at some points exclaiming loudly) for at least half an hour on a range of topics within this subject. Generally, my friend feels that men and women are biologically wired to have certain inclinations and behaviour, while I think that there is no correlation between having ovaries and being extremely good at changing diapers and/or enjoying telling a child to eat broccoli. The discussion go ...more
Tadas Talaikis
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gender
On many traits males are more variable than are females without a difference on average,

what makes my belief about no real difference in advantage between males and females.

Will see what this book says or not about it.

Says pretty much it and this is first book I had found about it. Then it led me to more research and keeping everything short: 46 meta-analyses on "cognitive, verbal and nonverbal communication, aggression (sic!), leadership, self-esteem, moral reasoning and motor behaviors", risk
Although the science was abundant and the arguments interesting, I felt it became repetitive and lacked well rounded conclusions that would have helped the reader to navigate all the information. However, still an important read for those still clinging to old fashioned ideas about gender, identity and sexuality.
Leonard Kim
Some interesting things, but I frequently lost patience. Straw Man Rex.
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Neuroscientists, educators, people
Although scientific claims don’t tell us how our society ought to be, that being the job of our values, they can give us strong hints as to how to fulfil those values, and what kind of arrangements are feasible.

Cordelia Fine’s new book critiquing the objective psychology and biology behind behavioural differences between the sexes is an excellent update and expansion of her writing in Delusions of Gender, a truly gratifying and formative book in helping me understand my own gender in relation
This isn't a perfect book, but it's pretty good. I found it useful for the way it refutes commonplace arguments about maleness:
Beyond the genitals, sex is surprisingly dynamic, and not just open to influence from gender constructions, but reliant on them. Nor does sex inscribe us with male brains and female brains, or with male natures and female natures. There are no essential male or female characteristics--not even when it comes to risk tasking and competitiveness, the traits so often called
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Extremely interesting book! I was drawn in by the title, which in my opinion is quite brilliantly thought up. Fine attempts to shine her light on common conceptions of gender based on outdated scientific views. While some sections were a little too sciencey (which is, of course, unsurprising!), she generally manages to use clear language to convey her argument. I felt a little more sociology might have supported the overall point even further, since gender is one of the ultimate multidisciplinar ...more
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Tryvexan in South Africa 1 2 May 04, 2018 03:49AM  
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Cordelia Fine (born 1975) is a Research Associate at the Center for Agency, Values and Ethics at Macquarie University, Australia, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of. Melbourne, Autsralia. Her previous book, 'A Mind of Its Own' was hugely acclaimed and she was called 'a science writer to watch' by Metro.
“Our sexuality is body, culture, age, learning, habit, fantasies, worries, passions, and the relationships in which all these elements combine. That’s why sexuality can change with age, partner, experience, emotions, and sense of perspective.” 4 likes
“contrary to the view that the brains of men and women are strikingly different, none of these differences were particularly substantial. Even for the very largest, the overlap between the sexes meant that about one in five women were more “male-like” than the average male.” 2 likes
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