4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2010
In The Apartheid of Sex, as in so many of her other endeavors, Martine Rothblatt not only expands our minds and our humanity, but she also helps us see why new scientific insights are too often met with resistance rather than greated with open arms and excitement. She summarizes it with: "It takes bravery because the existing scientists will all fight against the revolutionary, who is, after all, claiming that their life's work was wrong, meaningless, or at least irrelevant". Rothblatt further illuminates the concept by quoting Machiavelli (The Prince): "There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct or more uncertain of success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. The innovator has for enemies all those who have well under the old conditions, and but lukewarm defenders in those who may do well in the new". This book is definitely a paradigm shift in the way we see human sexuality. Indeed, in the very way we see humanity. A shift away from the black/white view of male/female sexuality that has for thousands of years supported the patriarchal culture that has given religious, political and legal support to male dominance at the expense of all other sexualities that lie along the sexual continuum.
Rothblatt's documentation and explanations for this revolutionary view are compelling. This book is a masterpiece of persuasion in making people think about supporting this monumental cause for improving the human condition, removing the shackles from human creativity, and helping us all reach our greatest potential.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Rothblatt makes the compelling argument that our notions of sexual identity are rooted in traditions that have always poorly served us, whether they derive from Greco-Roman civilization, early Christianity or even the "Enlightenment". Through all of them, "women" (or those born with vaginas) were judged inferior to "men" (or those born with penises), whether through character, strength or intellectual capacity. Rothblatt also notes that most major organized religions suffer from the same deficiency, citing Buddhism's belief that only a man can attain Nirvana.
While notions of female character inferiority have been debunked (at least legally) and physical strength is irrelevant for our modern world, arguments that men and women are different intellectually persist. Women are still (as of the writing in 1995, and as of the date of this review in 2010) judged to be better at writing and communication, while men are held to be better at "hard" science and math. Men are also said to test better. On the first count, Rothblatt rightly calls out that the overlap in scores is far greater than the discrepancies, and also notes that men tend to "dominate" the extremes of the low or high scores. However, those discrepancies account for 10% of the total population- both male and female. In other words, men and women are far more alike than they are different, and it doesn't make sense to draw inferences about everyone based on statistical outliers.
We cannot even depend on a chromosomal definition of sex. While we're taught that a boy= XY and a girl= XX, or that the presence of a Y chromosome makes for a boy, it's not always that simple. Many girls (1 in 500?) are born with XXY, and there are some with just an X. Further, some people with XX present with male genitalia. Sexual biology is hardly a "slam dunk", and it becomes increasingly specious to link emotional or intellectual capacity with genitalia.
The author argues that we are not "either/or" but that we are better classified- if we must classify- on a continuum. Most are going to find that hard to embrace- many have not quite made that transition with race- but I must admit, I find the idea of categorizing myself as a combination of eroticism, aggression and my capacity to nurture more useful than just what I'm able to contribute to the reproductive process.
All that said, I would give this 3.5 stars if I could. As much as I might have agreed or found her evidence from other sources useful, I cannot justify the lack of both footnotes and a bibliography for this kind of work. As my teenager said, that's Writing 101. Rothblatt would have done a greater service if those had been included.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2011
Martine Rothblatt, in the book, "The Apartheid of Sex" makes a cogent and compelling argument that the tradition of dividing all persons into two groups at birth, male and female, based on our private genitalia, is not only unnecessary, but it is inherently prejudicial and oppressive. Rothblatt, takes a notion that is so deeply ingrained in our culture as to seem obvious "of course, we are either male or female" and lays out an alternative way to view humanity that would allow us all more freedom and creativity. I think it should be required reading for all parents and teachers.
4 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2010
The Apartheid of Sex:
A Manifesto on the Freedom of Gender
(New York: Crown, 1995) 178 pages
(Library of Congress Call number: HQ1075.R68 1995)
Rothblatt wants complete freedom for people
to be and express any variation of sex and gender they please:
to dress any way they want;
to have whatever personality traits they prefer;
to marry anyone they want;
to raise children in whatever ways please them;
to have sex with whomever they please; &
to have any surgery to change sex that they want.
He believes all of these are matters of social convention.
But this reviewer believes that the last two
(sex-scripts and biological sex) are much deeper than enculturation.
Rothblatt believes there is a continuum of sex from female to male.
He uses the analogy of race:
Skin color shows every possible shade and variation.
And Rothblatt believes it is possible
to have the body of one sex but the mind of the other.
As the title suggests,
Rothblatt wants to end sex-segregation and discrimination
--just as racial segregation and discrimination are now ending.
Historically speaking the races are converging.
The geographical separations that originally created
the different races of the human species are now disappearing.
And interracial reproduction
is reducing the differences between the races.
Rothblatt's own 4 children are interracial,
since he is white and his wife is black.
But inter-breeding between males and females
has not reduced the differences
between the two sexes of the human species.
Rothblatt's basic argument conceals an unstated shift:
We have been able to change the traditional sex-roles of men and women.
And our gender-personalities are converging
(especially the admirable qualities of both 'masculinity' and 'femininity').
But we cannot 'go further' to abolish all sex-differences.
Our biological sex-differences are as pure and strong
as they have ever been.
And there is no way to make sex-differences go away.
Our success in eliminating sex-role and gender-personality stereotypes
does not imply that sexual differentiation will be the next to disappear.
We have great flexibility in gender-personalities:
As self-creating adults, we can choose our personality traits
from any of the hundreds of characteristics
listed on the Gender-Pattern Chart.
(See Ch. 7 of James Park's New Ways of Loving:
How Authenticity Transforms Relationships:
"Masculinity/Femininity: Loving Beyond Our Gender-Personalities".
This Gender-Pattern Chart also appears in
Variations of Sex and Gender,
Ch. IV "Gender Personalities: Thousands of Possible Gender-Patterns".)
But none of the changes in personality-traits
requires or suggests that a sex-change is needed.
Rothblatt makes a classic switch
(also found in other advocates of sex-change freedom):
Because 'masculinity' and 'femininity' are flexible,
so are maleness and femaleness.
But such thinking confuses biologically-given sex
with enculturated sex-roles and gender-personalties.
Rothblatt wants to sell us a radical change
(sex-change operations on demand)
under the guise of a moderate change most of us would endorse
(moving away from rigid and stereotyped gender-personalities
and conventional sex-roles assigned to men and women).
Calling all such changes "gender freedom"
hides the profound differences between biological sex on the one hand
and sex-roles and gender-personalities on the other.
Contrary to the author's aim,
sex-change operations on demand are not a part of the feminist agenda.
Rothblatt also suggests ending sex-typing at birth.
This would allow the child to choose a sex later--or no sex.
Unisex bathrooms would de-emphasize the differences between the sexes
and solve some of the problems associated with segregated bathrooms.
Rothblatt himself lived most of his life as a man:
He married a woman, fathered 4 children,
became a successful lawyer and businessman.
In the middle of his life, he decided to put his 'female' persona first.
He now lives full time as a woman,
wearing women's clothes, jewelry, nail polish, hair-style, etc.
He has remained married to his wife, now calling it a lesbian marriage.
They go out together in public as a lesbian couple.
He tells us nothing about their sex-life,
either before or after his change to living as a woman.
His children still regard him as their dad.
And judging only from the printed words of his book,
his personality is still more 'masculine' than 'feminine'.
He remains stern and hard-hitting in every line of the text.
A more 'feminine' person would emphasize
the tender and intuitive side of being a woman.
He remains a 'masculine' writer, for example,
using lots of scientific examples of paradigm shifts
in his attempt to promote a paradigm shift in our thinking about sex.
He has not changed his professional interests or activities.
He has no 'feminine' interests or activities.
He continues to run his own business, now as a female CEO.
So his decision to live as a woman was not really a personality shift.
His personality probably remains
much the same as it was when he lived as a man.
Rothblatt has written a very personal book
--even tho it takes the form of a legal or philosophical argument--
based on his own mental change from calling himself a man
to calling himself a woman.
But (for this reader at least) he does not sufficiently explain his change.
And he shows very little evidence
of having read any scientific books on sex.
To find better books, earch the Internet for the following exact expression:
"BOOKS ON TRANSSEXUALISM".