Book Review–“Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences”

Last night I read Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences published by Penguin Books. The author–Leonard Sax–has a Ph.D. and a M.D., so I expected a monograph of quality.

However, I’ve never read an academic book more offensive, problematic, inaccurate, queerphobic, transphobic, sexist, hateful, opinionated. I’m still in shock. In a nutshell, the author argues that boys are biologically better and completely different than girls, that gender nonconforming people had bad parents, that trans people are mentally ill, and that all of the problems boys have in school would be solved if their soft-spoken female teachers spoke louder! 

The author never defines “gender” or “sex.” Throughout the book, he uses “gender,” when “sex” would be more appropriate and accurate in most instances. The author suggests correlation implies causation and uses a handful of examples and broad generalizations to “create” rules of behavior. The author neglects discussions of race, class, ableism, etc. #IntersectionalityMatters #PositionalityMatters 

Why Gender Matters relies on dated, disproven notions of essentialism. This book completely rejects all of the emerging science on the subject. The book does not allow for social constructionism at all and ignores the role of the historical unconscious.

Don’t read this book! Please don’t. This book could only futher harm people, especaially those who more directly resist soceity’s expections for “men” and “women.” Why Gender Matters was so bad and so offensive, I emailed Amazon to express my thoughts and to request a refund–they granted it even though it was slightly past the refund window for Kindle Books. I also suggested they shouldn’t sell the book as it promotes discrimination. 

Read Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference to actually learn about why gender matters and about its power on society. 

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda