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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bridging Essentialism and Constructivism
This book is wonderful. Fausto-Sterling does not take sides on the essentialism and constructivism. She argues that biology does matter in determining one's sexual orientation, but at the same time, culture plays a central role as well. In other words, culture and biology interact with one another, in a complicated fashion. It 's an interaction that is dialectical,...
Published on March 16, 2000 by MICHELINE GROS-JEAN

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7 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gender seen from a particular perspective
As a transgendered person who is trying to read as much information as possible about gender, this book does supply alot of historic, scientific and theoretical background. It is another important addition to my library. That being said, I was taken aback by her comments regarding transexuals on pp 253 as a "type of human" and "stereotypical member of their sex to be"...
Published on February 20, 2006 by W


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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bridging Essentialism and Constructivism, March 16, 2000
By 
This book is wonderful. Fausto-Sterling does not take sides on the essentialism and constructivism. She argues that biology does matter in determining one's sexual orientation, but at the same time, culture plays a central role as well. In other words, culture and biology interact with one another, in a complicated fashion. It 's an interaction that is dialectical, rather than linear. The author skillfully weaves scientific knowledge with politics and history in a accessable language. Unlike many scientists,whose arguements tend to be ahistorical, she takes into account of history in building her arguements. This work will be interesting for both the scientifically inclined and the theoretically inclined.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When It Comes to Sex ,..., July 25, 2001
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tamiii "tamiii" (San Juan Capistrano, Ca. United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality (Paperback)
...it all comes down to emotions, recalling that the original meaning of that word was a movement of people, a civil disturbance. From the intersexual to the homosexual, Fausto-Sterling reviews the history and politics that informed the science and medical practice of 20th Century sex. I happily add this volume on the gender politics of popular science to a different but equally interesting work by Simon LeVay, Queer Science. However unlike LeVay, Fausto-Sterling recognizes a relationship between sexualized science and the rise of American monopoly capitalism (and its demands for social stability) though her observations in this arena are frustratingly preliminary. Readers of this book might also enjoy Jennifer Terry's An American Obsession which delves more deeply into cultural history.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leading Feminist Embryologist Takes on Her Own Science, February 4, 2003
This review is from: Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality (Paperback)
Fausto-Sterling will take her place in feminist history as the leading embryologist, and perhaps even, the leading scientist, doing gender studies in the latter 20th and earlier 21st centuries. Who would have thought she could excell beyond her ground-breaking text, "Myths of Gender"?
This time she takes on her own scientific field, exposing how blindered, sexist, heterosexist, and flat out stuck and harm-inducing it has become. Given that she presents her arguments in the body of the text in a very reader-friendly language and style, and has nearly a separate text of endnotes of hard-core feminist critical analyses ta boot, we've got in this great work of hers a text reminiscent of Virginia Woolf's "Three Guinneas."
Anne Fausto-Sterling's special interest this go around is science's primary complicity in the (hetero) sexing of psycho-medically dominated and controlled bodies. She provides one of the best feminist analyses of Gender Systematicity as the key politically shaped, shaping, and biased torture device for transsexual and intersex people today.
This is a very important text for sexology, feminist, gender, queer, US, cultural, and transgender studies, history of science, and anthropology of medicine and science. It's a brave read, if not deadly on point. Probably best for graduate scholars, but should be required for any professional in sexology, gender specialist, or medical personnel before they lay one hand or idea of treatment on transsexual or intersex people!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding Gender Through A New Lens, October 7, 2005
This review is from: Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality (Paperback)
Anne Fausto-Sterling's account of all genders and sexes (not just male/female, but everything in between) provides a humanitarian outlook which demonstrates just how far our culture will go to enforce gender dichotomies. About one in 5000 births results in an intersexed (ambiguous genitalia) infant. Most of the time doctors assign a sex to these babies, believing they could never grow into well-adjusted adults with ambigious sex organs. Yet, these surgeries usually include the removal of some or all nerve tissue leading most post operative intersexed people wishing they had never been touched when they grow older. Some of these stories are truly heart breaking and Fausto-Sterling not only explores the history behind these surgeries, but their impact on the day to day lives of thousands of individuals. Giving voice to a group that's not heard from much in mainstream media, Sexing the Body is a must read for anyone interested in the development of gender identity or social injustice.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sex & gender, September 4, 2006
By 
Helen Boyd (Brooklyn, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality (Paperback)
Sexing the Body is a thick book, and an important one. The section of footnotes is nearly as long as the text of the book (which can be complicated when reading; I ended up using two bookmarks). That said, it covers the part of the conversation that most of us don't have when we talk about the difference between sex and gender. I have a friend who reads my stuff - she's a feminist, and smart. But whenever I say that we don't really know if there are only two sexes, she always writes "you mean genders here?" in the margin. But no, I mean sex. I mean XX or XY. Or "with penis" or "with clitoris." And that's exactly what Anne Fausto-Sterling covers in this book: how we came to decide that there are two sexes, how (through the times) science came to that standard, and why it's wrong and when it's wrong.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars opens up the closed doors behind gender "research", June 11, 2003
By 
CC (lvthelrd2000@yahoo.com) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality (Paperback)
I highly recommend this book.It will liberate you from the
now recent obesession with gender "differences" and you will
see the world around you in a new light.
The book is pleasant and does not talk down to the reader
as many of the "gender difference" books do.It isn't
preachy or arrogant,instead it makes the reader think about
how the world around them has been so manipulated to keep
status quo thinking going.
This is not a gender differences book,it's a book which
let's us know we are all complex and not actually
limited by gender specific behavior,as the "researchers"
call "appropriate" behavior or apptitudes which people have
been labeled.
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33 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ambivalence, March 16, 2004
This review is from: Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality (Paperback)
This book delves into some of the biological and cultural issues regarding gender identity. In the introduction, Fausto-Sterling tells us that as a biologist, she accepts that there are biological influences on behavior, but at the same time, she is a feminist who is determined that gender identity is also culturally influenced. This book is framed as a kind of reconciliation between the extremes of the two camps. The early part of the book examines hermaphrodites or intersexuals through history. Fausto-Sterling points out that before medical intervention was standard, hermaphrodites were a recognized gender category, who even had their own rules of conduct and inheritance under Jewish law. She then turns her attention to the modern treatment of intersexuals, describing how thanks to charlatans like John Money, many have been surgically adjusted to fit one sex, while finding that their natural gender goes the other way, and they are consequently trapped in bodies that go against nature. She reviews many studies of the medical intervention of intersexuals and infant gender re-assignment, finding dismally few success stories.
The second half of the book takes up a variety of topics. Chapter 5, for instance, discusses and dismisses reported differences between the corpus callosum in men and women. In this chapter, Fausto-Sterling goes to great length to explain how the statistics for the corpus callosum studies may be flawed, but it seems she misses a larger point- -are there any behavioral traits that are associated with the corpus callosum anyway? Even if women turned out to have a corpus callosum that was five times as big, on average, than that of men, so what? We don't know enough yet about the function of the corpus callosum to hazard a guess as to what such results might point to, so finding or not finding a difference in size isn't that consequential. Later chapters in the book cover the history of sex hormone studies, hormones and the development of the brain. The book closes with an analysis of the author's own development of a gender identity, and an analogy of gender identity as a set of Russian dolls, where each influence on gender identity, from genetic to hormonal to cultural, fits within the larger context. And then comes 120 pages of endnotes, followed by 70 pages of bibliography, and the index.
In previous work, Fausto-Sterling had proposed that there are not 2 but many human genders, including separate categories for each preference of sexual activity. In this book she doesn't exactly argue explicitly for many genders, but she almost seems to assume the idea. She also points out that people's sexual activities may change over time, and thus it may be hard to categorize a person as being throughout life a member of one gender or another. I'm not sure I agree with her on this point. I think it might be more accurate to recognize that are only 2 biological genders, each associated with specific physical and behavioral traits, but that not everyone actually fits neatly into these categories. Indeed, if we have a very tightly defined notion of male and female together with all associated traits, perhaps no one actually matches one gender exactly. But that's not to say that we need to multiply the gender categories- -we just need to recognize and respect each person for who he, she, or even it, is.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, Essential Piece for the Sexologist's Library, March 8, 2005
This review is from: Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality (Paperback)
As a biologist, feminist, and historian of science, Fausto-Sterling lends a modern day expert's voice to the case that many other historians have made -- that women's genitalia was actually more accurately depicted throughout the 18th and 19th centuries than it has been throughout the 20th and into today.

While much of this book focuses on a variety of aspects regarding the ways that society and the medical industry works to `boy' and `girl' babies, as well as claiming that there are only two sexes (which Fausto-Sterling demonstrates is not true) there is some information that is directly relevant women's bodies and women's health.

This book is very well documented with a notes section that is virtually as long as the text itself. In the sections that are relevant to feminist research in sexuality and the body, Fausto-Sterling argues that because there is such an extreme lack of knowledge about the clitoris, its structure, and its function, countless urologists, surgeons, and doctors across the country routinely perform "minor" operations on women - some just hours old - that alter their sexual lives forever (p.300).

An essential read for anyone interested in biology, the body, sexuality, gender and how society molds and shapes what we know as "truth" about ourselves and our world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Critique, December 9, 2010
This review is from: Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality (Paperback)
Fausto-Sterling provides a wonder analysis not only in the construction of sex in our contemporary world, but also gives an over-arching view of dichotomies that could be applied in many situations. She reveals history, cases, scientific experiments and problems with the language within the scientific community in a comprehensive manner. She also gives interesting/workable potential solutions to the issues she discusses. I would recommend this book strongly to anyone looking into feminist theory, queer theory and women's studies, but I don't think it should be the first book to be read, either.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revelatory and well-written, November 24, 2012
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This review is from: Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality (Paperback)
I found it fascinating. There's much more plasticity in human sexual identity than we generally think. Only complaint is the tiny size of the print.
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Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality
Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality by Anne Fausto-Sterling (Paperback - November 30, 2000)
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