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Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexualityby Ann Fausto Sterling
Synopses & Reviews
Gender systems pervade and regulate human lives—in law courts and operating rooms, ballparks and poker clubs, hair-dressing salons and kitchens, classrooms and playgroups. . . . Exactly how gender works varies from culture to culture, and from historical period to historical period, but gender is very rarely not at work. Nor does gender operate in isolation. It is linked to other social structures and sources of identity.”
So write womens studies pioneer Catharine R. Stimpson and anthropologist Gilbert Herdt in their introduction to Critical Terms for the Study of Gender, laying out the wide-ranging nature of this interdisciplinary and rapidly changing field. The sixth in the series of Critical Terms” books, this volume provides an indispensable introduction to the study of gender through an exploration of key terms that are a part of everyday discourse in this vital subject.
Following Stimpson and Herdts careful account of the evolution of gender studies and its relation to womens and sexuality studies, the twenty-one essays here cast an appropriately broad net, spanning the study of gender and sexuality across the humanities and social sciences. Written by a distinguished group of scholars, each essay presents students with a history of a given term—from bodies to utopia—and explains the conceptual baggage it carries and the kinds of critical work it can be made to do. The contributors offer incisive discussions of topics ranging from desire, identity, justice, and kinship to love, race, and religion that suggest new directions for the understanding of gender studies. The result is an essential reference addressed to students studying gender in very different disciplinary contexts.
This path-breaking study of gender and sexuality is the first to go beyond the nature/nurture debate to offer an alternate framework for considering questions of sex and sexuality.
Why do some people prefer heterosexual love while others fancy the same sex? Is sexual identity biologically determined or a product of convention? In this brilliant and provocative book, the acclaimed author of Myths of Gender argues that even the most fundamental knowledge about sex is shaped by the culture in which scientific knowledge is produced.Drawing on astonishing real-life cases and a probing analysis of centuries of scientific research, Fausto-Sterling demonstrates how scientists have historically politicized the body. In lively and impassioned prose, she breaks down three key dualisms - sex/gender, nature/nurture, and real/constructed - and asserts that individuals born as mixtures of male and female exist as one of five natural human variants and, as such, should not be forced to compromise their differences to fit a flawed societal definition of normality.
Why do some people prefer heterosexual love while others fancy the same sex? Do women and men have different brains? Here Anne Fausto-Sterling argues that the answers to these thorny questions lie as much in the realm of politics as they do in the world of science.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -449) and index.
About the Author
Anne Fausto-Sterling is professor of biology and medicine at Brown University.
Table of Contents
Introduction * Catharine R. Stimpson and Gilbert Herdt
1 Bodies * Carroll Smith- Rosenberg
2 Culture * Kate Crehan
3 Desire * Lauren Berlant
4 Ethnicity * Anna Sampaio
5 Globalization * Carla Freeman
6 Human Rights * Elizabeth Swanson Goldberg
7 Identity * Raewyn Connell
8 Justice * Jane Mansbridge
9 Kinship * Janet Carsten
10 Language * Deborah Cameron
11 Love * Lauren Berlant
12 Myth * Wendy Doniger
13 Nature * Anne Fausto- Sterling
14 Posthuman * Ruth A. Miller
15 Power * Wendy Brown and Joan W. Scott
16 Public / Private * Michael Warner
17 Race * Hortense Spillers
18 Regulation * Judith Butler
19 Religion * Regina M. Schwartz
20 Sex / Sexuality / Sexual Classification * David M. Halperin
21 Utopia * Sally L. Kitch
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