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Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality Paperback – November 30, 2000
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Anyone who has been following the new brain science in the popular press--and even those whose casual reading includes journals along the lines of Psychoneuroendocrinology--will be fascinated by the puckish observations of Brown University biologist Anne Fausto-Sterling, whose provocative and erudite essays easily establish the cultural biases underlying current scientific thought on gender. She goes on to critique the science itself, exposing inconsistencies in the literature and weaknesses in the rhetorical and theoretical structures that support new research. "One of the major claims I make in this book," she explains, "is that labeling someone a man or a woman is a social decision. We may use scientific knowledge to help us make the decision, but only our beliefs about gender--not science--can define our sex. Furthermore, our beliefs about gender affect what kinds of knowledge scientists produce about sex in the first place." Whether discussing genital surgery on intersex infants or the amorous lives of lab rats, the author is unfailingly clear and convincing, and manages to impart humor to subjects as seemingly unpromising as neuroanatomy and the structure of proteins. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
As the old complaint that men's long hairstyles make it impossible to tell "if it's a boy or a girl" reveals, gender ambiguity is socially unsettling to many people. Boldly stepping into the breach, Fausto-Sterling contends that the fear of gender confusion has pushed science and medicine to go to extreme lengths in constructing solid concepts of sex (i.e., an individual's anatomical attributes) and gender (i.e., the internal conviction of one's maleness or femaleness). As in her now classic book, Myths of Gender, Fausto-Sterling draws on a wealth of scientific and medical information, along with social, anthropological and feminist theory, to make the case that "choosing which criteria to use in determining sex, and choosing to make the determination at all, are social decisions for which scientists can offer no absolute guidelines." Further, she adds, "our beliefs about gender affect what kind of knowledge scientists produce about sex in the first place." While the book encompasses a wide range of topics--including a cultural history of hermaphroditism (now more properly termed "intersexuality") and the recent medical interventions used to "cure" it, an account of the emergence of sex hormone research and its use to create changes in sexual orientation, and the history of how science has (mis)understood the brain in terms of gender--Fausto-Sterling's cogent use of concrete historical examples, her simple language and personal anecdotes keep this complex synthesis accessible. Her insightful work offers profound challenges toscientific research, the creation of social policy and the future of feminist and gender theory.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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