Mysteries of Sex: Tracing Women and Men through American History

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9780807830628: Mysteries of Sex: Tracing Women and Men through American History
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In a sweeping synthesis of American history, Mary Ryan demonstrates how the meaning of male and female has evolved, changed, and varied over a span of 500 years and across major social and ethnic boundaries. She traces how, at select moments in history, perceptions of sex difference were translated into complex and mutable patterns for differentiating women and men. How those distinctions were drawn and redrawn affected the course of American history more generally.

Ryan recounts the construction of a modern gender regime that sharply divided male from female and created modes of exclusion and inequity. The divide between male and female blurred in the twentieth century, as women entered the public domain, massed in the labor force, and revolutionized private life. This transformation in gender history serves as a backdrop for seven chronological chapters, each of which presents a different problem in American history as a quandary of sex. Ryan's bold analysis raises the possibility that perhaps, if understood in their variety and mutability, the differences of sex might lose the sting of inequality.



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" Mysteries of Sex is an engaging and sure-footed account of American women's history. Filled with interesting interventions, observations, and formulations, it helps make sense of what is now an overwhelming body of work. Ryan's strong and intelligent narrative voice provides just the sharp perspective we need at this juncture."--Stephanie McCurry, University of Pennsylvania

About the Author:

Mary P. Ryan is John Martin Vincent Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University. Mysteries of Sex returns to -- and fundamentally reinterprets -- the theme of her first book, Womanhood in America (1975). Ryan's other books include Civic Wars: Democracy and Public Life in Nineteenth Century America; Women in Public: Between Banners and Ballots, 1825-1880; and Cradle of the Middle Class: The Family in Oneida County, New York, 1790-1865.

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9780807859452: Mysteries of Sex: Tracing Women and Men through American History

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ISBN 10:  0807859451 ISBN 13:  9780807859452
Publisher: The University of North Carolina..., 2009
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