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The First Sex: The Natural Talents of Women and How They Are Changing the World Paperback – February 1, 2000

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The First Sex: The Natural Talents of Women and How They Are Changing the World + Why Him? Why Her?: How to Find and Keep Lasting Love + Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (February 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449912604
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449912607
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #176,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Rutgers University anthropologist Helen Fisher isn't afraid of immodest proposals. The woman who demystified four million years' worth of romance in Anatomy of Love now suggests in The First Sex that evolution favors women. Citing recent research in biology, sociology, sociobiology, and anthropology, Fisher makes a strong case for a near future in which the natural talents of women as thinkers, communicators, and healers, adapted to the age of information, create a new kind of global leadership in business, medicine, and education, skewing the power dynamics of sex and relationships towards the feminine. Women, she says, are contextual thinkers to a far greater degree than men; this "web thinking," as Fisher dubs it, is an asset in a global marketplace. Women are far more talented than men at achieving win-win outcomes in negotiations. On an organizational level, women are less interested in rank and more interested in relationships and networking, an essential attribute in a world without borders. In the arena of education, women have a natural talent for language and self-expression; as healers, they enjoy an emotional empathy with their charges that can and will redefine doctor-patient relationships. And, she predicts, in the next century women will reinvent love by asserting feminine sexuality and creating peer marriages, true partnerships. While Fisher's future may seem idealized, her science and her sociology make for a well-reasoned case that the people Simone de Beauvior once defined as "the second sex" are about to move to the head of the class. --Patrizia DiLucchio --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

No tears spilt over the limited effects of wrinkle cream here! Fisher (The Anatomy of Love), an anthropologist at Rutgers University, synthesizes the insights of her own discipline and those of psychology, sociology, ethnology and biology into good news for women: their biological advantagesAcontextual thinking, interpersonal intuition and long-range planningAmake them better suited to innovate and thrive in the emerging "knowledge economy." In Fisher's scenario, risk-taking males attack with words and play win-lose games, endlessly arguing unbending rules from the playground to the boardroom, while verbal, apologetic females roam in leaderless packs playing win-win games. She believes paternalistic, pyramidal mega-corporations are becoming obsolete as those girls morph into Net-minded women executives who manage virtual corporations with "flat" organizational structures. The playhouse blurs with the office in the decentralized "hyborgs" of the future: "officeless" business webs and virtual classrooms. With breezy optimism, Fisher takes a conservative stance in the nature/nurture debate, cheerfully reducing all of patriarchal history to the result of sex hormone surges with nary a nod to the "social" in "social science." Overly optimistic though her argument may be, it offers a provocative overview of the latest bio-anthropological studies on gender and communication, menopause and romantic love. Agent, Amanda Urban at ICM; 9-city author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Helen Fisher, Ph.D., is one of this country's most prominent anthropologists. Prior to becoming a research professor at Rutgers University, she was a research associate at Manhattan's American Museum of Natural History. Fisher has conducted extensive research on the evolution, expression, and science of love, and her two most recent books, The First Sex and The Anatomy of Love, were New York Times Notable Books. She lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Comparatively, however, they are much more rare than men with such talents.
Fisher proposes some far-fetched, ridiculous explanation of why this is the case, but asserts that now women are poised to take over that dominant role.
You can say the number to me but it sometimes just doesn't register until I see in down on paper and have it visually in my head.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I expected more from Helen Fisher. This book was poorly written, and is biased. I think it's fine to acknowledge the differences between men and women,in fact I'd like to see more discussion about this, especially the biological aspects. But why not show how both sexes have strengths and weaknesses, and how they compliment each other? Instead Fisher fills page after page claiming that women are superior at almost every task, and in most cases provides supporting arguments that are weak. Talents of males are mentioned as an afterthought. And of course in the 21st century the supposedly limited skill set of males will no longer be needed. I suppose many female readers will eat this up, but discrimination is discrimination, no matter where it's directed. The prose is quite choppy, kind of surprising, given the innately superior language abilities of women. She must have had a male editor.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I read this book twice because honestly my spatial brain could not handle all the fluid vague wording.This sort of book appeals to those who want to say their sex is better or worse at something,,It's a coffee table book for those who want to spend hours a day discussing which sex is good at this or that.What honest value does this have in a society already beaming with hate,misunderstandings and frustrations.What good does this do for a woman who doesn't have the characteristics meantioned in this book.
The author makes an attempt to praize women,but what a way to praize us!We are all different,each woman is a unique human being,some of us have verbal gifts and some find math really easy,as myself,I find math easier.To the writer this means I have a male brain or I'm fashioned somehow to that degree that I have male characteristics.
Strange how women have been assigned verbal skills and men have been assigned spatial and math abilities by the Ivory Tower set.
Makes me wonder sometimes.It's just John Gray revisted,nothing more.
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47 of 62 people found the following review helpful By "Bobby" on May 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
In reference to the reviewer below who states that men are more "right-brained" thinkers, it is interesting to note that modern science is now demonstrating this is true. The May, 2005 issue of Scientific American discusses how men have a more active right-amgydala compared to women, in which men tend to be more central or integrative thinkers. Women in contrast tend to be more left-amgydala dominant, which is more concerned with finer-detailed aspects of cognitive processes. Experiments using the drug Propranolol have shown this striking differences between the sexes. This fits well with experience, where in conversation women tend to focus much more on details that seem superfluous to men who want it put into a context. For men, the "gist" is what is most important. Thus, in direct contradiction to Fisher's claim, it is men that are more the contextual, holistic thinkers.

Another interesting find is that women have a markedly higher orbitofrontal-to-amygdala ratio compared to men. The finding suggest that women on average might be able to then reign in their emotions better than men. This might very well be true, particularly when it comes to violent impulses. For other everyday encounters, however, it would seem judging at the rate of faux pas and other social effronteries committed by both sexes that neither gender seems particularly suited in reigning in less-than-desirable emotions. Given how some companies have had to actually have their human resource departments develop so-called "bully broad" programs, or anger-management for women managers, it would seem women do not have as an advantage the ability to control themselves emotionally.
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115 of 156 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on July 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Reading this self-congratulatory feminist manifesto, one gets the impression the author would have us believe women of the species have just parachuted into our midst rather than being our long-time companions down here on the planet of the (male) apes. Given their complicity in all the wonders & woes through recorded time, it's only logical to attribute at least half-credit (and blame) for what humankind is and is becoming as due to their persisting and enduring influence over the eons. Yet here we find no such admissions of female culpability in the sorry state of the species. Instead, it seems to be exclusively males who have royally mucked things up so far. Yet, in the world according to Ms. Fisher, one must not despair, for all that will be changed as soon as women (the super sex) begin to come into their own. The reader is left with an uneasy impression this is all another thinly veiled sexist and virulently anti-male argument parading as social science a la Susan Faludi ("Backlash" and "Stiffed").
In all this heady prose of feminist celebration one can almost hear the faint echoes of Helen Reddy's feminist paean "I Am Woman' (Hear her roar!). Yet there is only anecdotal proof that any of what she purports is accurate or true of women in general, never mind that it will somehow ineluctably come to pass. For example, she boasts that women have "natural" talents males do not, and therefore are "better suited" biologically to excel at a whole range of complex social tasks than are males. This isn't a carefully couched scientific argument framed in terms of recognizing much wider individual variations within the female population itself than between males and females generally. Rather, it is argued as if it were a general sex-linked intellectual trait.
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