Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society

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9780393082081: Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society
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“Goodbye, beliefs in sex differences disguised as evolutionary facts. Welcome the dragon slayer: Cordelia Fine wittily but meticulously lays bare the irrational arguments that we use to justify gender politics.”―Uta Frith, emeritus professor of cognitive development, University College London

Many people believe that, at its core, biological sex is a fundamental, diverging force in human development. According to this overly familiar story, differences between the sexes are shaped by past evolutionary pressures―women are more cautious and parenting-focused, while men seek status to attract more mates. In each succeeding generation, sex hormones and male and female brains are thought to continue to reinforce these unbreachable distinctions, making for entrenched inequalities in modern society.

In Testosterone Rex, psychologist Cordelia Fine wittily explains why past and present sex roles are only serving suggestions for the future, revealing a much more dynamic situation through an entertaining and well-documented exploration of the latest research that draws on evolutionary science, psychology, neuroscience, endocrinology, and philosophy. She uses stories from daily life, scientific research, and common sense to break through the din of cultural assumptions. Testosterone, for instance, is not the potent hormonal essence of masculinity; the presumed, built-in preferences of each sex, from toys to financial risk taking, are turned on their heads.

Moving beyond the old “nature versus nurture” debates, Testosterone Rex disproves ingrained myths and calls for a more equal society based on both sexes’ full, human potential.

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Review:

An Amazon Best Book of January 2017: Fine knocks it out of the park with her smart and eye-opening investigation into why we give credit to (or blame) testosterone for so many behaviors. With a writing style that reminds me of Mary Roach and her gift for seeking out the ridiculous, Fine puts under the microscope our assumption that testosterone is the wonder hormone that makes men risk takers and competitive and, in its absence, women less so. This might sound like heavy stuff—like the gender studies classes I avoided in college—but Fine invites you to laugh with her as she punctures outdated notions and points out obvious weaknesses in the mighty social (not scientific) barricade of sex-specific dogma and the daily throwaway comments that carelessly reinforces that wall. After reading Testosterone Rex, my new resolution is to never say "Boys will be boys" again. Because while boys are, of course, boys, we owe it to them—and to girls—to understand that they are not defined by this single hormone. —Adrian Liang, The Amazon Book Review

About the Author:

Cordelia Fine, an associate professor at the University of Melbourne, is author of the much-acclaimed Delusions of Gender and A Mind of Its Own.

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