Go beyond the headlines and the hype to get the newest findings in the burgeoning field of gender studies. Drawing on disciplines that include evolutionary science, anthropology, animal behavior, neuroscience, psychology, and endocrinology, Deborah Blum explores matters ranging from the link between immunology and sex to male/female gossip styles. The results are intriguing, startling, and often very amusing. For instance, did you know that. . .
• Male testosterone levels drop in happy marriages; scientists speculate that women may use monogamy to control male behavior
• Young female children who are in day-care are apt to be more secure than those kept at home; young male children less so
• Anthropologists classify Western societies as "mildly polygamous"
The Los Angeles Times has called Sex on the Brain "superbly crafted science writing, graced by unusual compassion, wit, and intelligence, that forms an important addition to the literature of gender studies."
On the most basic hard-wired biological level, are men and women alike or different? Researchers usually find evidence to support either position depending on how the initial question is asked. Blum, who won a Pulitzer Prize for the articles that lead to her book The Monkey Wars, assesses the differences. She has a skilled journalist's ability to take abstract and confusing genetic, hormonal, endocrinological and neuroscientific findings and make them intelligible. She applies this material to differences in emotions, sexual orientation, love, lust and power. Blum also has a nonscientist's willingness to draw inferences from research done on chimpanzees, hyenas, insects and apply them to the human condition. And, perhaps inescapably, she has a tendency to present these findings without the context of qualifying conditions imposed by the original researchers. The resulting product is not a single big picture but a series of little ones. Does Blum believe that the sexes different? Well, sort of. Most of the book reads as if she believes that the Freudian assertion that "Biology is destiny" may be true after all. However, the conclusion reached by Blum is more ambiguous and somewhat contradictory: on one page she argues that "we have to get away from the outdated notion that biology assigns us a fixed place," and, on the next page she resigns herself to the fact that "aybe we are pushing uphill against biology to some extent." Blum may waffle on her conclusion, but getting to them is fun, informative reading with plenty of facts and figures that are guaranteed to provoke discussion, or at least thought. 7-city tour.