Reading: Anne Fausto-Sterling: Sex/Gender – Biology in a Social World

Anne Fausto-Sterling’s Sexing the Body is one of the few crucial texts on identity that I’ve read, along of course with Judith Butler (take your pick, though Undoing Gender is rather fine), and she is sadly one of those writers who publish very infrequently. Sex/Gender – Biology in a Social World is only her third, and I was dead excited when I saw it. Less than excited now I have it on my shelf.

I bought it at the same time I did 2312, and if you averaged the pages and prices of both they were pretty reasonable. 2312 was around 12€ and has 500+ pages, which leads one to the conversation of why Routledge is publishing a thin book (barely 120 pages of actual text), in a not especially small font, and similarly thin cover for something around 25€. Part of a “series integrating science and culture” it seems. Well, ok, I’ve blown greater sums on thin works that have been worth it, however painful the extraction of euros has been, so I was looking forward to some juicy, heavy evaluations of the subject covering the last 12 years since Sexing the Body was published.

More disappointment. Perhaps it will pick up in subsequent pages, but a sixth of the way in I can say this book is at most aimed at first-year university students who are not majoring in Gender Studies, Feminism or any other similar humanities field. Perhaps it’s aimed as an intro text for biology students to get a handle on the subject, but this certainly isn’t the follow-up to Sexing the Body I was hoping for, nor, I suspect, will it provide much in the way of new ideas or information for anyone even moderately reading in these fields. Which makes me feel this is a slightly misleadingly presented work.

All this not to say for anyone wishing to get a concise grasp on identity (and nailing such delicious things as to why, for example, the division current theoretical division of identity into sex and gender is at best specious), and is prepared to front up the euros will probably find it worthwhile.