Testosterone Rex in which Cordelia Fine self-deprecatingly talks about how, when she introduces herself to people, she is always saddened by the fact that she is not immediately surrounded by fangirls and fanboys who carry copies of her book around and want her to autograph it right then and there.
I admit that I don't carry Fine's Delusions of Gender around with me, but I am a HUGE fan of the book, and I'm pretty sure that if I were ever to meet Fine in person, I would be a total fangirl and absolutely ask to take a photo with her and all sorts of other things.
SO NOW YOU KNOW, CORDELIA - you are just meeting the wrong people. You have LOADS of fans who love you and your work.
I was pretty excited to learn that Fine had a new book out, this one about how people assume that testosterone is a hormone that creates vast differences between men and women (besides the private bits), and that it can explain a lot of things about human and animal behavior, from risk-taking to spreading the seed to being successful at work. And, as she does, Fine shoots all of these assumptions down using science.
The book clocks in at less than 200 pages before the footnotes, so it's not long, but there's a LOT packed into its pages. I don't remember this happening at all while I read Delusions of Gender, but I admit that reading all these details about the sex habits of fish and insects was a little trying for me. I didn't love every page of this book the way I loved every page of Delusions of Gender, but I do think the pay-off for this book is really just as good! Just know that I skimmed some parts of it.
Fine makes a lot of great points, and some of them really resonated with me. For example, she talks about risk-taking and how studies have shown that men are more likely to take risks than women are. Then she totally breaks apart this whole thing, and it was amazing. FIRST, she says that when you separate people by ethnicity, it is actually mostly just white men who feel the world is super-safe and therefore are quite willing to take risks. And, within that subset, it was white men who were "well educated, rich, and politically conservative, as well as more trusting of institutions and authorities, and opposed to a "power to the people" view of the world..."
Who would have thought? The people with the most privilege are the ones most likely to take "risks," possibly because they are the least likely to lose.
Fine goes on to state that people view risks very differently, and someone may consider one thing quite risky and something else quite safe. For example, a skydiver could be very conservative with his money, and a Wall Street speculator could drive a Volvo. It's the individual's perception of the risk that is important, not a general idea of what is risky and what is not.
A salient point to bring those two facts together? "When asked about the risks to human health, safety, or prosperity arising from high tax rates for business, now it was the women's and minority men's turn to be sanguine." (Ah, so rich white men were very worried about the risks that would come with taxing business, whereas the people who would more likely benefit from taking that risk were not so worried!) Basically, people of both genders and all races take risks all the time, it is just that we seem to value some actions as being more risky (skydiving) than others (accepting a job at a company where that you will be the only woman, surrounded by bros).
Cordelia Fine is one of those people with so much glorious righteous anger PLUS a fantastic sense of humor that you kind of want her to fight all your battles for you. She shares a story about how she went to a school sale and some woman was selling plastic knives, and made a point to say the girl could have a pink knife, but her brother could have red or blue. She talks about how early kids become aware of gender and what they are "supposed" to do. (She goes into even more detail on this in Delusions of Gender). She reminds us that we should never say stupid phrases like, "Boys will be boys," as though we should give them a free pass for being jerks. She really carries the banner on gender equality, and I love her for it.
Really excellent book! Go read it!