Cari's Reviews > The Riddle of Gender: Science, Activism, and Transgender Rights

The Riddle of Gender by Deborah Rudacille
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's review
Oct 16, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: 2012, cultural-studies, gay-lesbian, disappointing
Read from September 18 to 23, 2012 — I own a copy

Gender is an increasingly important and consistently under-researched aspect of the human experience, one that most people have a narrow understanding of. As Rudacille points out in The Riddle of Gender, gender and anatomical sex, while most often a matching pair, are two different things. Extensive scientific research is woefully lacking and what little has been conducted over the past one hundred years was piecemeal and undermined by personal bias and politics. Because of this it's little wonder we have only limited knowledge of what influences gender (everything from nature vs. nurture to the effect of hormones), and Rudacille makes an admirable attempt to present facts as well as theories from all sides of the issue.

Unfortunately her presentation is a mess. She starts okay, but as she brings in additional points of view and other aspects only loosely related to the subject, she loses sight of her theme and stumbles. She seems unable to decide between an examination of the science or a review of cultural history, and the result is a chaotic mix of the two that combines decades of study with personal opinions and bias. With much of the early research riddled with errors of assumption and many later studies crippled by methodological problems, Rudacille faced an uphill battle in terms of solid science and isn't skilled enough to weave a factual narrative free of assumptions, opinions, or tangents. Very disappointing.

I wanted to like this. A book examining gender was needed, but unfortunately, this isn't that book.
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09/20/2012 page 102
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