Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine

Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create DifferenceDelusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First off, I think that everyone should read this book.
The book is split into quite a few sections, and the first couple of chapters are very statistic and science heavy. As the book progresses, it continues to cite numerous studies, but the analysis of gender is expanded to a bigger and bigger picture.
So though the first couple of chapters seem at first to be almost too specific to be important, they do in fact set the reader up for better understanding the analysis that follows.
So what’s the bottom line? Well, the author uses a LOT of evidence which left me convinced of her premise that while biology and hormones have a clear influence on developing our male and female body parts, they do NOT demonstrate any kind of a clear causal relationship with gender. In fact, in all the time researchers have been trying to study this, particularly since the 1980’s on, the researchers are actually pretty frustrated because they can’t find much of anything linking male and female hormones with gender roles/preferences/stereotypes.
Unfortunately, several bestselling books out there (and the author gets very specific about this) have given the opposite idea, by misrepresenting the actual science. The disjunction between what the science shows, and what popular authors have claimed it shows, is shocking. The science doesn’t back up what we’re hearing in the popular media.
What science DOES show is that gender is HIGHLY, HIGHLY influenced by culture. Many studies (presented in the book) have shown how very susceptible human beings are to suggestions, both conscious and unconscious, that shape our perceptions of what it means for us to behave as men and women.
After reading this book, I came away with the conclusion that the science we have today indicates that gender is a social construct.
This book also addresses the question of why children raised by parents who are trying to be gender-neutral frequently seem to enact popular western gender stereotypes. Suffice it to say, after reading the entire book, I am not at all surprised that our best attempts at gender-neutral parenting may have no effect on children enacting gender stereotypes. The sad truth is that the society we live in today is so completely saturated with gender stereotypes, that children/babies are exposed to them from all directions, from unconscious and conscious gender biases, etc., and actual gender-neutral parenting is pretty much impossible, despite our best efforts.
Ultimately, this is a very important book, and I’m really glad I read it.

View all my reviews

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