Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex

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9780674001893: Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex
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In her study of the medical response to human hermaphrodites, Alice Dreger draws on over 300 scientific and medical commentaries in France and Britain, of which over half the cases reported occurred between 1860 and 1915...As Dreger observes, there was no single opinion among doctors or the public at large about which traits were essentially male or female, or even what they might signify. In Britain, female facial hair was likely to be associated with insanity, while in France it was more likely to be seen as a mark of remarkable strength. Other interesting differences emerge...Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex is richly researched, detailed and fascinating. -- Angelique Richardson Times Literary Supplement This is a well-researched, sober history of a problem that Alice Dreger shows has directly affected more people than we might think and which shapes the sense of sexual identity of us all...Avoiding preachy judgementalism, Dreger shows how deeply ingrained are our assumptions about gender normality (sexual anatomy is destiny) and on how flimsy a basis they have been grounded. The book offers us all a lesson in self-awareness. -- Roy Porter Nature Alice Dreger ascribes the growing visibility of the hermaphrodite to Victorian anxieties about gender-blurring social phenomena, including homosexuality and feminism, as well as to improvements in medical science. During the Victorian era, Dreger argues, a greater number of women gained access to gynecological care, and as a result, infant anatomy came under more professional scrutiny; medical journals of the period, widely accessible for the first time, publicized anomalous cases. Scientific knowledge of embryological development began turning the one-time monster or marvel into, in the words of the turn-of-the-century French doctor Xavier Delore, 'a scientific matter and a degraded organism.' -- Emily Nussbaum Lingua Franca Dreger...has found a rich mine in the clinical case histories of hermaphroditism, which outline the physicians' complex struggle to find a foolproof way of fitting individuals into a binary sexual scheme. -- Laurence A. Marschall The Sciences This engaging, well-written book will benefit scholars and lay readers interested in the history of sex, sexuality, gender, and medicine. The book traces the evolution of what makes a person male or female and shows how the answer has changed depending on when the question was asked and where it was asked. Dreger has succeeded in compelling the reader to ask the same question. -- Patricia Y. Fechner New England Journal of Medicine The historic records of [hermaphrodites]...are carefully documented by this meticulous author and merit study...To read this book is to become aware of the tremendous complexity of human sexuality and gender identity--beyond genitals, hormones, enzymes, and even chromosomes and genes. Behavior, feelings, and values blend with intellect and how each individual is sexually drawn to each other. -- Domeena C. Renshaw, MD Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Most people have heard the term 'hermaphrodite,' but aren't quite sure what it means. [This book serves] as an introduction to that topic, bringing the voices of intersex people...into dialogue with...experts. Dreger also includes many fascinating historical photographs. Her stories of detective doctors presiding over 'doubtful-sex gatherings' show how 'again and again, consultations with fellow medical men almost invariably, rather than clearing up confusion, resulted instead in deeper and broader doubt...Medical men often discovered that too many diagnosers spoiled the certainty'...What makes [this book] important and provocative also makes [it] a little dangerous because [it] is so ahead of [its] time. -- Leonore Tiefer Women's Review of Books This is a very strange and a very good book, tackling an important topic with humanity, and in a readable style. This is a subject where biology, psychology and medical authority conflict, and where prudery, ignorance and dogmatism drive people to suicide. Dreger deals with the history of definitions of man or woman by myth and by medicine, and provides case histories, together with photographs of the problematic genitalia...As biologists, we should treasure variation--if you doubt that for human sexuality, read this book. -- Jack Cohen Biologist Through a collection of dramatic and moving medical case histories from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Dreger argues that the medical profession increasingly claimed the knowledge and authority to determine 'true' gender and to effectuate such determination by surgical means...[This] is a wonderful example that historical writing is not merely about revisiting the past, but reshaping the future. This book will prove fascinating and moving reading for those concerned with the ways in which biomedical knowledge is deployed in the service of the cultural regulation of gender and sexuality. -- Vernon Rosario Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review [A] perceptive, erudite and superbly-written book...Concentrating on late-nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain and France, Dreger analyses how defining and 'managing' hermaphroditism were crucial to the destabilization as well as a simultaneous--and only seemingly paradoxical--reinforcement of the sexual division of humanity into male and female. In a surprisingly well-integrated epilogue of the book, she establishes that present-day treatment of hermaphrodites in America, in spite of phenomenal advancements in surgical technologies and theoretical understanding of sexual physiology, continues to be guided by ideas about the nature and meaning of sex that would not have seemed unfamiliar to fin-de-siecle doctors. -- Chandak Sengoopta Medical History In her compelling, highly engaging and carefully researched book, Dreger charts the individual stories of many hermaphrodites--often with accompanying photographs...[It is] vital reading for feminists in that [it] offers detailed illustrations of scientific and medical complicity with social norms of 'sex' and 'gender', and raises important questions about how cultures enforce ideas about 'normal' bodily conditions and behaviours. -- Celia Kitzinger Feminism & Psychology Dregerhas produced a well-written, lucid and sensitive account of the medical treatment of hermaphrodites from the latter half of the nineteenth century through to the present day...Dreger's description of the way modern doctors persist in assuming that they, and not the individual concerned or society, have the right to define an individual's sex are particularly illuminating. This book will be immensely interesting to historians working in this area and anyone concerned with intersexuality. -- Helen Blackman Social History of Medicine In her book, Alice Dreger sets out to convince the reader that the history of hermaphrodites, or people of ambiguous sex, is an important and interesting topic, and she more than accomplishes her goal. Not only does she deliver, but she does so with grace, ease, and compassion. This is a marvelous book, an unexpected surprise which is as readable and engaging as it is informative...Within pages of opening the book, I was enthralled. -- H. Hughes Evans Journal of the History of Medicine Traces the history of the biomedical treatment of hermaphrodites during what Dreger calls the "Age of Gonads."...She offers the reader a complex and lucid account of the process by which hermaphrodites moved from a public space (some as performers in traveling circuses and shows) to a private space where all hermaphrodite identities became increasingly shaped and defined by physicians who gained in power and prestige by intervening in the lives of these individuals...Dreger makes a convincing argument for a new approach to individuals born with ambiguous genitalia. -- Heather Harris Journal of the History of Biology In Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex, Alice Dreger illuminates life stories that had been recast, subsumed, and ultimately 'disappeared' by the medical profession...Dreger's book is clearly written and easy to read. Fascinating, entertaining, disturbing, and thought-provoking all at once, it makes one ask, 'what is the difference between a male and a female?' and even more unsettling, 'why does it matter so much in our society.' Synapse: University of California San Francisco Weekly This fascinating book consists of numerous case studies on hermaphrodites (intersexes) and their abusive treatment by the medical and scientific community during the late 19th century and early 20th centuries in Britain and France... Dreger believes that by studying the cultural history and climate that prevailed relating to intersexuality at the turn of the last century, we may be better able to understand the concept of gender, sex, and sexuality. There are interesting sections on famous hermaphrodites and hermaphrodites in love. -- H.S. Pitkow Choice This history is important to our understanding of how the categories of "male" and "female" have come to be understood in the medical community. This history is also relevant to the current questioning of modern intersex medicine...Overall, this book is well written and considers important influences of history on the treatment of hermaphrodites that have been previously ignored. -- Amy B Wisniewski, Ph.D. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease In Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex, Alice Domurat Dreger looks at the debates concerning intersexed peole which circulated in the medical communities of France and Britain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In so doing, Dreger has also offered insight into our own fin-de-siecle quandaries about the limits of usefulness of the concepts of sex and gender as categorizations of human beings...Overall, Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex is an excellent book. -- Holly Devor Journal of Sex Research 19990101

Reseña del editor:

This text explores encounters between hermaphrodites - people born with "ambigious" sexual anatomy - and the medical and scientific professionals who grappled with them. Alice Dreger focuses on events in France and Britain in the late 19th century, a moment of great tension for question of sex roles. While the feminists, homosexuals, and anthropological explorers openly questioned the natures and purposes of the two sexes, anatomical hermaphrodites suggested a deeper question: just how many human sexes are there? Ultimately hermaphrodites led doctors and scientists to another surprisingly difficult question: what is sex, really? The book takes the reader inside the doctor's chamber to see how and why medical and scientific men constructed sex, gender, and sexuality as they did, and especially how the material conformation of hermaphroditic bodies - when combined with social exigencies - forced peculiar constructions. Throughout the book Dreger indicates how this history can help us to understand present-day conceptualizations of sex, gender, and sexuality. This leads to an epilogue, where the author discusses and questions the protocols employed today in the treatment of intersexuals. Given the history recounted by her, should these protocols be reconsidered and revised?

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Alice Domurat Dreger
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Descripción HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 2000. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Revised ed.. 236 x 157 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. This text explores encounters between hermaphrodites - people born with ambigious sexual anatomy - and the medical and scientific professionals who grappled with them. Alice Dreger focuses on events in France and Britain in the late 19th century, a moment of great tension for question of sex roles. While the feminists, homosexuals, and anthropological explorers openly questioned the natures and purposes of the two sexes, anatomical hermaphrodites suggested a deeper question: just how many human sexes are there? Ultimately hermaphrodites led doctors and scientists to another surprisingly difficult question: what is sex, really? The book takes the reader inside the doctor s chamber to see how and why medical and scientific men constructed sex, gender, and sexuality as they did, and especially how the material conformation of hermaphroditic bodies - when combined with social exigencies - forced peculiar constructions. Throughout the book Dreger indicates how this history can help us to understand present-day conceptualizations of sex, gender, and sexuality.This leads to an epilogue, where the author discusses and questions the protocols employed today in the treatment of intersexuals. Given the history recounted by her, should these protocols be reconsidered and revised?. Nº de ref. de la librería AAC9780674001893

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Alice Domurat Dreger
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Descripción HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 2000. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Revised ed.. 236 x 157 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. This text explores encounters between hermaphrodites - people born with ambigious sexual anatomy - and the medical and scientific professionals who grappled with them. Alice Dreger focuses on events in France and Britain in the late 19th century, a moment of great tension for question of sex roles. While the feminists, homosexuals, and anthropological explorers openly questioned the natures and purposes of the two sexes, anatomical hermaphrodites suggested a deeper question: just how many human sexes are there? Ultimately hermaphrodites led doctors and scientists to another surprisingly difficult question: what is sex, really? The book takes the reader inside the doctor s chamber to see how and why medical and scientific men constructed sex, gender, and sexuality as they did, and especially how the material conformation of hermaphroditic bodies - when combined with social exigencies - forced peculiar constructions. Throughout the book Dreger indicates how this history can help us to understand present-day conceptualizations of sex, gender, and sexuality.This leads to an epilogue, where the author discusses and questions the protocols employed today in the treatment of intersexuals. Given the history recounted by her, should these protocols be reconsidered and revised?. Nº de ref. de la librería AAC9780674001893

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Descripción Harvard University Press. Paperback. Estado de conservación: new. BRAND NEW, Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex, Alice Domurat Dreger, This text explores encounters between hermaphrodites - people born with "ambigious" sexual anatomy - and the medical and scientific professionals who grappled with them. Alice Dreger focuses on events in France and Britain in the late 19th century, a moment of great tension for question of sex roles. While the feminists, homosexuals, and anthropological explorers openly questioned the natures and purposes of the two sexes, anatomical hermaphrodites suggested a deeper question: just how many human sexes are there? Ultimately hermaphrodites led doctors and scientists to another surprisingly difficult question: what is sex, really? The book takes the reader inside the doctor's chamber to see how and why medical and scientific men constructed sex, gender, and sexuality as they did, and especially how the material conformation of hermaphroditic bodies - when combined with social exigencies - forced peculiar constructions. Throughout the book Dreger indicates how this history can help us to understand present-day conceptualizations of sex, gender, and sexuality. This leads to an epilogue, where the author discusses and questions the protocols employed today in the treatment of intersexuals. Given the history recounted by her, should these protocols be reconsidered and revised?. Nº de ref. de la librería B9780674001893

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