My father (born 1941) recommended this book to me twenty years ago and I refused for many years because he would shove everything through the filter of Male/Female brain. I was turned off by his summary of “Men have male brains, and women have female brains. But some men...
My father (born 1941) recommended this book to me twenty years ago and I refused for many years because he would shove everything through the filter of Male/Female brain. I was turned off by his summary of “Men have male brains, and women have female brains. But some men have female brains and some women have male brains. And some male brains have female features, and female brains have male features...”, and would then proceed to tell everyone what kind of brain they had. This was worse than astrology, “I’m not like the usual Scorpio, because my moon is in Cancer and my Pluto is in the Seventh House.” So it appears that you could support any theory if there are enough exceptions.
I read the book to eliminate my dad’s frequent argument of “You haven’t read it so you don’t know.” I feel that the book was actually - and only - “good”. I feel it was written at an eighth grade reading level, and it is 30 years old. Parts were well-written and thought-provoking. Other parts were Just. So. Tedious. I have a Master’s in a mental health field, so perhaps I’m just not used to being spoonfed every possible iteration of a theory. Much of the book incited an anxiety in me similar to when someone just keeps talking and talking but not saying anything new. I tried to figure out “Maybe it’s just my male brain responding.” But, much of it was like reading an entire cookbook for stir fry line-by-line.
TOFU, brown sauce, broccoli. BEEF, brown sauce, broccoli. PORK, brown sauce, broccoli.
TOFU, brown sauce, peppers. BEEF, brown sauce, peppers. PORK, brown sauce, peppers.
TOFU, brown sauce, bok choy. BEEF, brown sauce, bok choy. PORK, brown sauce, bok choy.
Those aren''t really nine different recipes, and it''s tiresome to add chili peppers and call it Szechuan, then repeat the same simple recipe nine ways as a whole different chapter. But, in this case, it was every way that sex differences are expressed as infants, in early school, late school, work, home, parenting, etc. “What? Males were more competitive and externally-focused, and women were more co-operative and communicative in the workplace just like they were on the playground, classroom, puberty, or through parenting chapters? Oh, I didn’t see that coming...”, “Oh again, with the castrated rats... add hormones and the same thing happened as in several previous chapters.”
(Hence the title of this review.)
The book could have been a much better book if it were cut down to 50 pages, AND acknowledged that it is among several other factors influencing interpersonal and intrapersonal experiences. There are so many other aspects to human brains (trauma, genetics, family, culture, addiction, disease, shame, religion, on and on) that this is just one part of what needs to be learned and considered. The DSM has 297 disorders in 947 pages, and that doesn’t include all of the hundreds of treatment options to address those diagnoses. So I’m resistant to a book that carries with it such a temptation for people to be reductive versus expansive.
I think the book is good for curious people who don''t understand why some thought processes are different than their own, this will shed some light in one arena. If you think that your way of thinking is "correct", then having page after repetitive page can provide the temptation to weaponize the info to say, “You can’t help it, you have a female/male brain.” as a science-based support for dismissing people, then please do not read this book.
However, if you accept that people are people and we all think in a variety of ways, then the book isn’t revelatory.
It is quite readable (despite the repetition), a good primer for laypeople, and, though it never claims to be everything, I would have really liked for the authors to have addressed the risks of over-generalization more openly. Some reviews have a "now I know why they are wrong" vibe - which is the opposite to the author''s clearly stated reason this book was written, but it''s easy for some to distort it that way. Please precede any recommendations to others with a caution.