Book Review: The End of Gender by Debra Soh

Yes, this book is very controversial. But of course, I love to read that kind of book.

No comments

“There are only two genders. There. I said it.

Not three, not seventy one, and certainly not an infinite number. Gender is not a spectrum, a continuum, a kaleidoscope, a prism, or any other majestic-sounding metaphor trans activism has dreamed up.”

Yes, this book is very controversial. But of course, I love to read that kind of book.

About the Book

Title: The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths About Sex and Identity in our Society

Author: Dr. Debra Soh

Published: 2020

Series: (standalone)

Genre: psychology, politics, sociology, gender

My Rating: 4/5 stars

The Premise

Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated):

“Is our gender something we’re born with, or are we conditioned by society? In The End of Gender, neuroscientist and sexologist Dr. Debra Soh uses a research-based approach to address this hot-button topic, unmasking popular misconceptions about the nature vs. nurture debate and exploring what it means to be a woman or a man in today’s society.”

My Thoughts

The End of Gender intends to debunk what Dr. Debra Soh believes are myths regarding sex and gender in society. This is probably the most contentious debate of our current cultural zeitgeist, it’s a very sensitive topic, and discussion about it can definitely be taboo. But that doesn’t mean we should avoid it.

Soh is a sexologist with a PhD in neuroscience, and now she’s a journalist focusing on debates around sex, gender, politics, and academic freedom. Her ideas regarding these topics stray from some of the accepted progressive theories about the gender spectrum and some other issues, so she’s been subject to plenty of backlash, and her book was even surreptitiously removed from Target for a short amount of time in 2020.

Here are the claims that she makes in the book:

1) biological sex is not a spectrum (intersex people don’t cause it to be a spectrum)

2) gender— your internal sense of being male or female— is more due to biology than social factors (gender is not a social construct)

3) there are only two genders, and you can be gender-atypical— a tomboy girl or an effeminate boy— without labeling yourself an entirely new gender

4) your sexual orientation often correlates to how you feel about your gender identity

5) although it is beneficial to transgender adults, transitioning may not be the best option for every child who exhibits gender dysphoria as some of these children end up growing out of their dysphoria or do not receive proper psychological vetting before going ahead with a gender transition

6) there are differences between trans women and cis women, even after trans women have fully transitioned

7) gender roles for men and women, particularly in dating and sex, stem from evolution and are not inherently a negative thing (although they can become a negative thing if we put too much emphasis on them)

8) gender-neutral parenting does not work because kids will often still gravitate towards activities typical of their actual gender identity (for example cisgender girls even if raised gender neutral may still be inclined to play with stereotypically feminine toys such as dolls)

9) science should be driven by inquiry and not a political agenda, but right now there is too much censorship

I wasn’t sure what to think of everything she said, and I was iffy on some of the theories she explained within the book, mostly the part about women in STEM subjects, as I think she underestimated the role that society could very well be playing in the lower numbers of women in STEM fields. But this was certainly an interesting read and I think that I at least have a better understanding of some of these debates now.

The Verdict

I’d recommend this book to everyone: I think it’s very important to read books on controversial issues even if they contradict the popular narrative, because in order to come closer to the truth it is important to consider all available information and avoid attempting to silence someone who offers a differing opinion. It is the only way that we can be sure we are choosing the best and most informed way forward. I will be doing more research on everything in this book so that I can get the other perspectives as well, as I know very little about this subject in general and don’t want to be confined to only reading the interpretation that is presented in this book

Have you read The End of Gender by Debra Soh? If so, what did you think of it? Feel free to leave a comment!

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to Frappes & Fiction. I post about the books I read (even if they’re not fiction), the books I think YOU should read, and anything else on my mind.

(I’m also on social media!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.