MYTHS OF GENDER: Biological Theories About Men and Women by Anne Fausto-Sterling

MYTHS OF GENDER: Biological Theories About Men and Women

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An excellent refutation of a whole slew of ""scientific"" theories about biologically based gender differences (i.e., math ability) that supposedly separate the boys from the girls (and the men from the women). ""There is no such thing as an apolitical scientist,"" the author contends. She then makes mincemeat of many findings from sociobiologists who specialize in distinguishing the sexes in terms of ""universal"" traits. The composite drawing of the average female, developed from the research findings critically examined by Fausto-Sterling, is that of a skilled housewife who will fail in the workforce both because she is neither good at math nor naturally aggressive (except when emotionally unhinged by hormonal impulses) and who, after the age of 50, goes straight downhill in physical, emotional, and intellectual terms. Fausto-Sterling contends that much of the research that produces ""evidence"" of supposed biologically-rooted gender differences is ""blueprint"" research, whereby the scientist asks questions that inevitably lead to confirmation of his (or her) assumptions. She convincingly refutes much of this research, even going so far as to question whether there is any scientific validity to the findings, so widely quoted in child development manuals, that little girls talk earlier than boys. Her work is important because, as she points out, biologically-based argumentation does influence public policy. For example, if we accept that rape is the result of the male's ungovernable need to mate, do we then accept sexual violence as so embedded in our social fabric that we must resign ourselves to its existence? Fausto-Sterling raises many, similarly probing points. And while the book is academic, she does much to guide a reader through the maze of scientific research. A difficult read, but worth it.

Pub Date: Nov. 27th, 1985
Publisher: Basic Books