Testosterone Rex

Myths of Sex, Science, and Society

Cordelia Fine (Author, University of Melbourne, Australia)

Overview | Formats

“Goodbye, beliefs in sex differences disguised as evolutionary facts. Welcome the dragon slayer: Cordelia Fine wittily but meticulously lays bare the irrational arguments that we use to justify gender politics.”—Uta Frith, emeritus professor of cognitive development, University College London

Many people believe that, at its core, biological sex is a fundamental, diverging force in human development. According to this overly familiar story, differences between the sexes are shaped by past evolutionary pressures—women are more cautious and parenting-focused, while men seek status to attract more mates. In each succeeding generation, sex hormones and male and female brains are thought to continue to reinforce these unbreachable distinctions, making for entrenched inequalities in modern society.

In Testosterone Rex, psychologist Cordelia Fine wittily explains why past and present sex roles are only serving suggestions for the future, revealing a much more dynamic situation through an entertaining and well-documented exploration of the latest research that draws on evolutionary science, psychology, neuroscience, endocrinology, and philosophy. She uses stories from daily life, scientific research, and common sense to break through the din of cultural assumptions. Testosterone, for instance, is not the potent hormonal essence of masculinity; the presumed, built-in preferences of each sex, from toys to financial risk taking, are turned on their heads.

Moving beyond the old “nature versus nurture” debates, Testosterone Rex disproves ingrained myths and calls for a more equal society based on both sexes’ full, human potential.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • January 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-393-08208-1
  • 6.6 × 9.6 in / 272 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverTestosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society


Endorsements & Reviews

Testosterone Rex is that rare combination of revelatory science, trenchant analysis, and understated humor that makes it not only a pleasure to read but an invaluable resource. The next time someone solemnly explains to me why evolution has caused men to be competitive and women not, women to prefer childrearing and men to race cars and run corporations, men to be promiscuous and women coy, I plan to whip out my well-marked copy of T. Rex and cite the science that says they’re wrong.” — Sharon Begley, author of Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain

“Fine’s funny, spiky book gives reason to hope that we’ve heard Testosterone rex’s last roar.” — Annie Murphy Paul, New York Times Book Review

“Full of witty gems you’ll want to underline and read aloud, Testosterone Rex gleefully debunks myths about the nature of masculinity and femininity. Without denying science or ignoring evolution, Cordelia Fine shows how biology, far from limiting our possibilities, extends them.” — Marlene Zuk, author of Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live

“Fascinating [and] bold. . . . Fine has written a book that’s not only well-researched and convincing but also . . . delightfully humorous.” — Barbara J. King, NPR

“Exciting, eloquent, and effective. Deftly weaving together research from anthropology, biology, neuroscience, and psychology, Fine shows exactly why and how the myth of testosterone and maleness plays out and why it is false. This book is not politically correct; it is good science.” — Agustín Fuentes, professor of anthropology, University of Notre Dame

“In this witty corrective, psychologist Cordelia Fine examines the fraying “biological big picture” of sexual selection, and corrals findings in evolutionary science, neuroscience and endocrinology to add nuance to it.” — Barbara Kiser, Nature, “Best Science Picks”

“Goodbye beliefs in sex differences disguised as evolutionary facts. Welcome the dragon slayer: Cordelia Fine wittily but meticulously lays bare the irrational arguments that we use to justify gender politics.” — Uta Frith, Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development, University College, London

“The expression ‘essential reading for everyone’ is usually untrue as well as a cliché, but if there were a book deserving of that description this might just be it.” — Antonia Macaro, Financial Times

“There aren’t many psychologists out there writing books that make me laugh out loud and want to stay up late reading, but Cordelia Fine does the trick. With Testosterone Rex, Fine brings her signature irreverence and meticulous research to such old chestnuts as the obvious evolutionary benefits of promiscuity for males, women’s natural risk aversion (note: childbirth is about twenty times more likely to be fatal than is skydiving), and of course the idea that testosterone caused the Great Crash of 2008. Read this book because it’s fun, but also because it’s a great antidote to lazy thinking and entrenched sexism.” — Rebecca M. Jordan-Young, author of Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Difference

“In addition to being hopeful, Fine is also angry. We should all be angry. Testosterone Rex is a debunking rumble that ought to inspire a roar.” — The Guardian

“[Fine] convincingly and entertainingly demonstrates that, despite stereotypes, such characteristics as risk-taking, competitiveness and nurturing are not “essential” to one sex over the other and cannot be blamed for the lack of equality between males and females in contemporary society.” — Clara Moskowitz, Scientific American

“Cordelia Fine’s Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society does the public service of deconstructing the biological and societal tenets on which the continued inequality of the sexes is largely founded. . . . Using humor and her uniquely accessible academic writing style, . . . [Fine disrupts] what we think we know about gender difference.” — Katie Klabusich, Rewire

“A provocative and often fascinating book.” — The Economist

Also by Cordelia Fine All

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  2. Book CoverA Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives