Classification: News

22 May 1998 

Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex

by Alice Domurat Dreger

Harvard University Press, May 1998

Hardcover, 320 pages

Alice Dreger, Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies at
Michigan State University and adjunct faculty at the Center for Ethics and
Humanities in the Life Sciences, brings us this study of how and why medical
and scientific men have construed sex, gender, and sexuality as they

have. A 36 page long epilogue contains narratives of intersexuals treated
according to the still-standard medical protocols developed in the 1950s
and calls for change: "Surely, will be familiarity rather than
knowlege that finally takes away [intersexuals'] supposed 'strangeness.'"

From Dreger's Introduction:

I hope the reader will use the history that follows to think about many
broader and related issues. In [this research] I have learned not only about
the history of biology, medicine, unusual bodies, and the history of the
unexpected and changing answers to [the question: How do you know if you're
a boy or a girl]. I have also learned about culture, about technology and
language, about what the body could mean, does mean, and perhaps should
mean, in the life of the person. ...I have learned about how and why it
is that scientists and doctors work to mediate the relationships between
our bodies and ourselves. I have also learned much about why it is we often
look to scientists and medical doctors to read or even to alter our bodies.

I [now] realize how complicated life can be if one has a body or a being
that stands out from

the rest. And do not we all? Surely in some way every one of us is like
a hermaphrodite, a being

or a body that won't quite fit the boundaries. So I do not think of this
intellectual journey only

as a detailed history of sex, gender, and sexuality. I think of it as an
exploration of what it means

to have a body and a being in this day and age.

List: $35.00

Dimensions (in inches): 1.00 x 9.53 x 6.47

ISBN: 0674089278

Note: This book was formerly cited as "But My Dear Woman, You Are
a Man."

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