Review of Delusions of Gender, by Cordelia Fine

Delusions of Gender, by Cordelia Fine, is a book that concerns itself with the central question of gender: are there really inherent behavioral differences between men and women, or are those differences all culturally constructed? As an anti-genderist, I am definitely on the “all differences are culturally constructed” side, and Fine takes that side also.

The book is divided in three main parts. Part 1 concerns itself with measured behavioral differences and studies which seek to explain them. Her central concept is that of associative memory, which creates implicit associations in our brain between concepts, such as associating a gender with stereotypical concepts such as empathy or mathematics. Fine discusses a wide variety of studies which show that, whether we are aware of them or not, our implicit associations have a profound impact on what we think about ourselves and how well we perform tasks.

Part 2 discusses the attempts to point to neuroscientific data that supposedly proves a neurological basis for gender. Fine exposes this “research” as being little more than a fallacy of insufficient sample. Finally, part 3 explores the issue of how our implicit associations form in early childhood and why attempts at “gender-neutral parenting” and other individualistic solutions must necessarily fail.

I have not so far read a lot of the anti-genderist literature so I can’t really compare this book to others on the subject, but this is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read. Cordelia Fine combines startling insights into the construction of gender with a keen observational mind. I heavily recommend this book to anyone who has any interest in anti-genderism.

8 thoughts on “Review of Delusions of Gender, by Cordelia Fine

  1. antiplondon November 25, 2013 at 13:21 Reply

    It’s a brilliant book, and I wholeheartedly recommend it too (I have her critique of Simon Baron Cohen’s ‘proof’ of innate gender differences committed to memory).

    May I also recommend The Myth of Mars and Venus by Deborah Cameron?

    • Francois Tremblay November 25, 2013 at 13:24 Reply

      All right, I’ll add it to my list. Thanks!

    • Francois Tremblay August 10, 2016 at 01:08 Reply

      I just again noticed this message you posted on my blog years ago. I find it rather interesting that you “wholeheartedly recommend” a book which argues that raising children genderless does not work, given your recent… bent. I must point out your hypocrisy here. Or maybe you have, in the meantime, slipped into the comfortable hammock of delusional thinking.

      • antiplondon August 11, 2016 at 13:09 Reply

        I must confess it’s been a while since I read the book, so I don’t remember every line. If you could quote the exact section, or give a page reference, I will give you my opinion on that specifically.

  2. Miep November 26, 2013 at 21:17 Reply

    Thanks folks, I’ve ordered a copy :-)

  3. The Arbourist December 15, 2013 at 23:22 Reply

    I’ll second Antiplondon’s recommendation. It is about time for me to reread it though, it has been awhile.

  4. Justthefactsjimmy! October 5, 2015 at 00:51 Reply

    Before you do – I highly recommend you read the critique of Fines book on the NIH.gov academic site.

    Fine makes some pretty big accusations and leaps that don’t measure up.

    There are reasons people write books instead of putting their conclusions in papers that are subject to peer review…

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3108906/

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