Frank Browning takes us into human gender geographies around the world, from gender-neutral kindergartens in Chicago and Oslo to women's masturbation classes in Shanghai, from conservative Catholics in Paris fearful of God and Nature to transsexual Mormon parents in Utah. As he shares specific and engaging human stories, he also elucidates the neuroscience that distinguishes male and female biology, shows us how all parents' brains change during the first weeks of parenthood, and finally how men's and women's responses to age differ worldwide based not on biology but on their earlier life habits. Starting with Simone de Beauvoir's world-famous observation that one is not born a woman but instead becomes a woman, Browning goes on to show equally that no one is born a man but learns how to perform as a man, and that there is no fixed way of being masculine or feminine.
Increasingly, the categories of "male" and "female" and even "gay" and "straight" seem old-fashioned and reductive. Just visible on the horizon is a world of gender and sexual fluidity that will remake our world in fundamental ways. Linking science to culture and behavior, and delving into the lives of individuals challenging historic notions, Browning questions the traditional division of Nature vs. Nurture in everything from plant science to sexual expression, arguing in the end that life consists of an endless waltz between these two ancient notions.
"A probing, wide-ranging, and illuminating look at society's current ‘gender conundrum.’ . . . To research sex and gender, the author draws on interviews with and published research by biologists, neurologists, psychologists, physicians, parents, teachers, counselors, therapists, and many individuals who define themselves as ‘gender variant.’ . . . A timely, thoughtful contribution to a much-debated issue." —Kirkus Reviews
"Browning has a talent for relating complex topics accessibly . . . This account provides a solid overview of the shifting landscape of gender issues today." —Library Journal
"The Fate of Gender is a fascinating read . . . overall the book will make readers think hard about how, as a society, we have shaped gender identity and are reshaping what it means to be male and female, either and both." - Scientific American MIND
"In this daring examination of the complexities of modern gender, Frank Browning gives the scientific evidence that gender is a construct rather than a biological reality. Our notions of masculinity and femininity are becoming more fluid and not less, as science defers to social reality instead of the other way around. Scholarly, wide-ranging, and deeply imagined, this unsettling book limns the triumph of nuance over a binary that was never based in authenticity." —Andrew Solomon, author of FAR FROM THE TREE
"The Fate of Gender is a valuable addition to the debate on whether genders are multiplying, morphing, mutating, or disappearing entirely. Frank Browning presents a wide-ranging review of the current complexities of gender and sexuality. Engagingly written, this book is an excellent catch-up on what gender is all about today." —Judith Lorber, Professor Emerita, Graduate School and Brooklyn College, CUNY, author of BREAKING THE BOWLS: DEGENDERING AND FEMINIST CHANGE
"Does sex have a future? Well, yes. But everything else is up for grabs. An insightful, important book." —Rita Mae Brown, author of RUBYFRUIT JUNGLE
"Frank Browning is a voracious social, cultural and political observer. He ranges across continents and venues, stopping to inspect circumstances and examples, in this instance relentlessly moving toward an understanding of what gender is coming to mean. Browning makes it perfectly clear that gender these days is not a settled thing, if it ever really was. A persuasive evidence of intellect is the ability to take disparate examples and fashion them into an entirely unexpected but coherent whole. The Fate of Gender is a stunning example." —David Hawpe, former editor, THE COURIER-JOURNAL (Louisville)
"This is an extraordinary book. From the moment of our conception, sex and gender rule our lives. Browning, with incisiveness, insight, and wit, takes us on this journey, combining the latest relevant research with personal stories and his own explorations. He uses the research to highlight the personal, and acknowledges what is rarely said; that sex and gender are a muddle and mystery and we bravely soldier on ‘til the end." —Lynn Meyer, Founder, Women's Emergency Network
"An important book . . . that never sidesteps troubling questions." —The New York Times Book Review on THE CULTURE OF DESIRE
"Absolutely cutting edge--a portrait of modern sexual politics [that] should be required reading." —Armistead Maupin on THE CULTURE OF DESIRE
"Browning challenges us to consider what each of us is willing to risk to live life more fully." —San Francisco Examiner on THE CULTURE OF DESIRE
"[Browning] presents an international and historical overview of homosexuality that is refreshingly broad-minded." —The Washington Post Book World on A QUEER GEOGRAPHY
"Hidden history revealed." —Studs Terkel on THE AMERICAN WAY OF CRIME