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Mismeasure of Woman: Why Women Are Not the Better Sex, the Inferior Sex, or the Opposite Sex

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  405 ratings  ·  23 reviews
When "man is the measure of all things," woman is forever trying to measure up. In this enlightening book, Carol Tavris unmasks the widespread but invisible custom -- pervasive in the social sciences, medicine, law, and history -- of treating men as the normal standard, women as abnormal. Tavris expands our vision of normalcy by illuminating the similarities between women ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published February 26th 1993 by Touchstone (first published March 27th 1992)
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Emily Wemily This reminds me of a quote I recently read in 'Half of a Yellow Sun,' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:

"And it's wrong of you to think that love leaves roo…more
This reminds me of a quote I recently read in 'Half of a Yellow Sun,' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:

"And it's wrong of you to think that love leaves room for nothing else. It's possible to love something and still condescend it."

I believe that for some men, the answer to your question is yes. A well-intentioned, privileged, and perhaps even unconscious 'yes.'(less)

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Oct 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people curious about gender differences, feminists, psych buffs
This book is a critique of two popular fallacies about men and women: gender essentialism (the idea that all men and all women resemble their own sex and differ from the other sex in the same ways) and universalizing maleness (using the average man as a stand-in for the average person). She mostly tackles essentialism in popular culture and psychology, particularly by looking critically at the studies cited as proof of gender stereotypes (say, that women are more empathic) and identifying factor ...more
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily by: I wish I could remember -- it was in the Women in Video Games discussion this year
Shelves: occupy, nonfiction
This book is the wiser and more knowledgeable sister of The Beauty Myth. Some material is, thankfully, out of date, thanks to 20 years of progress in queer advocacy. But Tavris's discussion of legal equality vs. legal sameness, and of the medicalization of women's hormonal cycle (and the failure to medicalize the far more hazardous mood swings of men!) is still on point.

On hysterectomy for a 'precancerous' diagnosis: "Although prostate cancer is far more common than uterine cancer, no one recom
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: women, sociology
Examines critically basic assumptions and "conventional wisdom" underlying the stories modern culture tells about women, and that women tell about themselves, whether dealing with their relation to men, health and psychological issues, social roles, sex, body image, etc. It points out that presenting women as opposite to men, better or worse than men, or the same as men, all involve evaluating women against the cultural norm of the universal male instead of taking women as they are in themselves ...more
Feb 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book. Another feminism book
Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Written by a psychologist, The Mismeasure of Woman explores studies on 'gender', focusing on the psychological and social aspects, with a basic section on the brain studies. It took me a while to work through because it's a dense read -- there are so many studies and articles mentioned that the bibliography is 42 pages long. It's quite the emotional rollercoaster! It's infuriating and depressing to realize how much science and society have lied about and mistreated women (and men, though not in ...more
Aug 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a good read - it brought to light a lot of biased ways of thinking about differences between the sexes (and lack thereof) that I may not have noticed previously without being strictly pro-women/anti-man. I thought it was very balanced and also well-written in general.
Mar 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
I am not an extreme feminist or anything... but I recommend this book for every woman! I took a psyc. of women class and this book summed it all up. It really makes you think about the issues of being a woman in todays society.
Lawrence Bish
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was one of many that have opened my eyes to hidden flaws in my own and the general perceptions of our world, our behaviors, our beliefs and our social practices. A significant and wonderful contribution towards correcting some of the more ignorant problems of western society.
Feb 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in gender (as both a societal construct and legitimate psychological differences).
Shelves: nonfiction, gender
Absolutely fantastic. The best, most complete, and most helpful book on gender I've ever read. Tavris' ideas deal mostly with the cage our culture imposes by evaluating women to male standards and demanding they adhere to female standards simultaneously. What she does that so many other feminist authors fail to do, though, is offer coherent solutions.

Tavris is a psychologist, and does a very good job of backing up her claims with research. Much of it is dated, though, so as always I suggest look
Stephen Jay Gould noted with delight that the title of this book was borrowed from his own The Mismeasure of Man. The main issue here (as I read it), is that the 'average human' is not a '60 kilogram man', and medical studies that assume so are bound to be misleading--often fatally so. As John Glenn objects to being an 'n of 1' in his research project comparing the effects of aging with the effects of weightlessness, one main goal of this book is to have more studies done on women, or (better ye ...more
Mar 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
A dense read, but many fascinating hypothoses. Her basic premise of is that men and women are more alike than different, which current theory in science, (biological, sociologcical, sexually, in communication) has men and women on polar opposites in most areas. And she posits that this hypothesis holds true in most of the animal kingdom below humans. Sort of a plea to us to not judge the opposite sex so stringently.
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is an excellent overview of the subject despite the dated studies, as all but a few are still valid and relevant. The critique of common methodologies and several key experiments gives grounds to ignore 90% of gender-related headlines out of hand, which in my opinion is worth the cover price alone.
Nov 28, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Giving up. Too deep (hah), and I feel like I'm living my early thirties all over again. Which is not a good thing in my case. Don't like the cover either.

I would recommend it for research. It has some gems of information in there in the Nature v. Nurture argument. But I'm just not up for this right now.
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminist
When a man is the measure of all things...women are always trying to measure up. The custom of treating man as the normal standard, woman as abnormal. The real differences lie not in gender , but in power, resources and life experiences.
Chris Pederson
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
'Equality as acceptance means that instead of regarding cultural and reproductive differences as problems to be eliminated, we would aim to eliminate the unequal consequences that follow from them.' AWESOME book and met Carol at TAM8, super nice! ...more
Vinaysheel Rao
Feb 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
The book is trash. I cannot elaborate because I'd be mansplaining. ...more
May 13, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Common knowledge is usually an oxymoron. Seek the unbiased, documented information.
Kaethe Douglas
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Amanda mentioned it on Pandagon, and apparently, it holds up very well.
Nov 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A disapointment. I'd hoped it was going to answer some questions about what women/men simmilarities. Instead it answered questions about the politics of who is labled with what qualities. ...more
Fraser Sherman
Tavris looks at the history and effects of seeing men as the default setting for "normal human" and women as "different." She covers arguments about innate male superiority (constantly shifting reasons always leading to the same conclusion), female superiority, different mating strategies, PMS, psychological and medical studies and handwaving issues of class, power and race.
Tavris doesn't claim the two sexes are identical, but argues persuasively (admittedly I'm biased) it's more about life exp
Tavris does an excellent job exploring how everything from PMS to Victimization continues to let men off of the hook and allows us, as a society, to avoid having the tough conversations about what would actually help women have the same standing as men. The scariest thing: this book was written in 1991 and dang if not much has changed!! In her discussion about Victimization she even mentions "me too." Of course, this was WELL before the current meaning of that phrase...and yet nothing has change ...more
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
i'm a MUSLIM , i'd like to give you an example from the HOLY QURAN as to FEMALE & MALE :

لحجرات - الآية 13يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

(13) O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous o
Usha Alexander
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An essential corrective to the gender biases of today.
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Jul 10, 2009
Sheryl Tribble
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Sep 03, 2015
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Carol Tavris earned her Ph.D. in the interdisciplinary program in social psychology at the University of Michigan, and ever since has sought to bring research from the many fields of psychology to the public. She is author of The Mismeasure of Woman, which won the Distinguished Media Contribution Award from the American Association from Applied and Preventive Psychology, and the Heritage Publicati ...more

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