Testosterone Rex (Hardback)
Unmaking the Myths of Our Gendered Minds
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WINNER OF THE 2017 ROYAL SOCIETY INSIGHT INVESTMENT SCIENCE BOOK PRIZE
What the judges said: ‘Every man and woman should read this book on gender bias … an important, yet wickedly witty, book.’
‘Fine’s entertaining and thoughtful book is a valuable addition to the discussion about gender.’ Ian Critchley, Sunday Times
‘In addition to being hopeful, Fine is also angry. We should all be angry. Testosterone Rex is a debunking rumble that ought to inspire a roar.’ Guardian
‘A densely packed, spirited book, with an unusual combination of academic rigour and readability … The expression “essential reading for everyone” is usually untrue as well as a cliché, but if there were a book deserving of that description this might just be it.’ Antonia Macaro, Financial Times
Testosterone Rex is the powerful myth that squashes hopes of sex equality by telling us that men and women have evolved different natures. Fixed in an ancestral past that rewarded competitive men and caring women, these differences are supposedly re-created in each generation by sex hormones and male and female brains.
Testosterone, so we’re told, is the very essence of masculinity, and biological sex is a fundamental force in our development. Not so, says psychologist Cordelia Fine, who shows, with wit and panache, that sex doesn’t create male and female natures. Instead, sex, hormones, culture and evolution work together in ways that make past and present gender dynamics only a serving suggestion for the future – not a recipe.
Testosterone Rex brings together evolutionary science, psychology, neuroscience and social history to move beyond old ‘nature versus nurture’ debates, and to explain why it’s time to unmake the tyrannical myth of Testosterone Rex.
For fans of Fine – whose Delusions of Gender ‘could have far-reaching consequences as significant as The Female Eunuch’ (Viv Groskop, Guardian) – and thousands of new readers, this is an upbeat, timely and important contribution to the debate about gender in society.
Cordelia Fine is a Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Melbourne. In 2018 she was awarded the Edinburgh Medal for her work on challenging gender perceptions in science and her contributions to society’s understanding of gender stereotypes. She is the author of the much-acclaimed A Mind of Its Own (Icon, 2006) and Delusions of Gender (Icon, 2010), described as ‘a truly startling book’ by the Independent, ‘fun, droll yet deeply serious’ by New Scientist and an ‘important book … as enjoyable as it is timely and interesting’ by the West Australian.
‘Every man and woman should read this book on gender bias. Testosterone Rex is an important, yet wickedly witty, book about the 21st century which touches on the current debates around identity and turns everything on its head. Pressingly contemporary, it’s the ideal companion read to sit alongside The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power.’
‘Fine’s gift for rendering complex neurological concepts comprehensible is one of the many reasons why her book is so brilliant. She writes like a dream, not just by the lifelessly humble standards of most scientific prose, but by any literary measure, and her book sparkles with pithy wit.’
‘If you’ve ever thought that men are from Mars and women are
from Venus, or that men don’t listen and women can’t read maps, this book is
for you. The expression “essential reading for everyone” is usually untrue as
well as a cliché, but if there were a book deserving of that description this
might just be it.’
‘A cracking critique of the “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” hypothesis, Cordelia Fine takes to pieces much of the science on which “fundamental” gender differences are predicated. Graced with precisely focused humour, the author makes a good case that men and women are far more alike than many would claim. Feminist? Possibly. Humanist? Certainly. A compellingly good read.’
‘Fine leavens the hard science with personal anecdote, and her entertaining and thoughtful book is a valuable addition to the discussion about gender.’
‘Testosterone Rex is packed with convincing evidence and astonishing facts, all of which seem so important that everybody should be made to read all of it immediately, or at least before typing another word on Twitter about political correctness gone mad.’
‘Fine dissects as she goes, bringing a probing intelligence not only to what we believe about gender, and why it’s often wrong, but also to the history of how we came to think it was so … Beliefs about men and women are as old as humanity itself, but Fine’s funny, spiky book gives reason to hope that we’ve heard Testosterone Rex’s last roar.’
‘Testosterone Rex is one of those rare books that manages to effortlessly mix science, social commentary and a call to arms. It is witty, robust and angry but provides a new take – and new evidence – that helps us answer the age old question of where women stand in the world.’
‘Testosterone Rex is a debunking rumble that ought to inspire a roar.’
‘Fine does it again. The mistress of “I think you’ll find it’s more complicated than that” delivers a brilliant and witty riposte to the “boys will be boys” bores. Fascinating.’
‘A fascinating, greatly contemplative discussion of sex and gender and the embedded societal expectations of both.’
‘It is extraordinary how so much is attributed to such a minute quantity of hormone. Cordelia Fine combines formidable intellect, forensic analysis and devastating wit to expose those myths of sex, gender and human behaviour that might just reflect testosterone-fuelled, wishful thinking. This engaging, accessible and hopefully influential book doesn’t disappoint, and makes crucial reading for those with an interest, from any perspective, in human behaviour.’
‘The delusion that there are distinct and unique male and female natures, put in place by an unholy alliance of genes, hormones and neurones, remains alive and well. Cordelia Fine dismantles this myth with style, wit and scientific precision. This combination of scientific responsibility and general accessibility is desperately needed if we are to escape the serious social damage caused by such widely disseminated pseudoscience.’
‘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.’
‘This is an important, well researched book that presents biological, psychological and social science research to explain why men and women are far less different than many would have you believe. If that sounds dry, it ain’t. Fine lives up to her name – she is an extremely talented writer.’
‘Cordelia Fine has done it again: she debunked the idea of a female brain in Delusions of Gender and has now slain Testosterone Rex. This is obligatory reading for anyone interested in gender equality at work or home – your views on sex differences will never be the same.’
‘This book is brilliant’
‘Ms Fine’s is a provocative and often fascinating book.’
‘Fine knocks it out of the park with her smart and eye-opening Testosterone Rex … After reading it, 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.’
‘Filled with interesting facts, studies and arguments, it’s an impressive work, sure to be useful when faced with gender essentialists who argue that asking for progressive change such as fair representation, or less sexist adverts, is a futile fight against nature.’
‘Testosterone Rex is an important book. It helps us think about the kind of society we expect to see or hope to build. It questions whether we have to accept existing gendered norms about male and female behaviour.’
‘Watching Fine take these gendered claims painstakingly, methodically, devastatingly to pieces should rank among the great works of art that humanity has ever produced. Buy a box set of this and Delusions of Gender. Buy twelve. Distribute them to your loved ones. Absolutely everyone in the world should read it. You’ll thank me later.’
Endless books claim that the brains of men and women are wired differently. They set out to convince us that women are somehow biologically suited to getting the creases out of clothes while men peruse maps. This brilliant book proves our attitudes to men and women are cultural, not natural. Fine makes the neuroscience clear and provides a wealth of ammunition to debunk the myth that sex inequality is just something we’re born with.