Appendix: Secondary Literature and the Relation of Biology to Sex and Gender

From: The 7 Sexes

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A p p e n d i x : S e c o n d a r y L i t e r at u r e a n d t h e R e lat i o n o f B i o l o g y t o S e x a n d G e n d e r Almost all the references in my history of sex determination come from primary sources that I read at the Kinsey Library at Indiana University. This primary literature approach was also true for my books on the history of classical genetics, the history of the gene concept, Muller’s biography , and the history of degeneracy theory leading to eugenics. The reason for this is my temperament. I like to consider myself Baconian in my philosophy of science. By this, I mean that I compile a stack of 5 × 8 cards as I write notes and quotes from the articles or books I read. I find that when a “critical mass” occurs (usually after 100 or more cards), I see connections, and I infer them from the data at hand. This is classical induction, rather than deduction from a preexisting hypothesis. I know many philosophers of science doubt the existence of such induction in science, but whether it is an illusion or not (like free will) I find it a habit hard to break because it has steered me through writing so many books. The difficulty with my approach is that I tend to ignore the secondary literature, and if I read it at all, I usually do so after I have written a first draft of my projected book. This is unkind to those who have labored before me to explore cognate fields. Of course, some of those secondary sources I had read years ago, but was not working on the project that later occupied my thinking and writing. I try to acknowledge those in 178 Appendix my books. The danger of relying on newer secondary sources is the ideas in them may be so compelling that they blot out the opportunity to have original insights that my Baconian method provides. I am sure other scholars have wrestled with this paradox. While I may not do justice to the secondary literature discussed in this appendix, I include it, because one referee of this manuscript felt I should look into the feminist and gender-studies literature to supplement the primarily biological approach I used to trace the history of sex determination.Idowantthoseinthesefieldstohaveabookthatlooksat the history of the biological components of human sexuality, especially one that includes genetics, endocrinology, cytology, and biochemistry. I could have written the book without any reference to sexual behavior, butthiswouldmakeitmoredifficultforthosewhostudysexualbehavior toseetheconnections(legitimateanddubious)betweentheirtop-down (primarily behavioral and cultural) approach and my bottom-up (genes to gonads and genitalia) approach. For what it is worth, I respond with the limitations of being a geneticist and historian of science, and reflect on how these books connect to my approach. I also thank the anonymous reviewer for providing a list of about a dozen books that she (or he) thought pertinent to feminist and gender studies. Thomas Laqueur, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990). This is a superb history of sexuality. I am glad I had not read it before I wrote my own history, because I might not have written what I did. Laqueur covers a vast amount of the history of sexuality (primarily anatomical) to which I have given scanty attention, just as he gives little attention to the influence of genetics, cytogenetics, and hormonal feedback relations on the development of sexuality. What he does brilliantly, inmyopinion,isdiscussthecontrastbetweenthe“one-sex”modelofantiquity , in which a female is a lesser or defective male, and the “two-sex” model, in which there are two essences, with the male and the female different in some innate way. In both cases, as he points out, it was not science that led to these theories, but socially imposed views of sexuality . He argues that both gender and sexuality are social constructions, or at least heavily influenced by cultural or political traditions. For the Appendix 179 one-sex model, he identifies that political outlook as one of a hierarchy. For the two-sex model, he identifies the separation of the sexes as a consequence of the industrial revolution, and the redefining of females as dependent girls, housewives, and mothers limited by their biology. Laqueur’sconceptofsexualityislargelydevotedtoitsbehavioralaspects ,especiallytheorgasmanditsrelationtoovulationortopregnancy...


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