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Gender Shock:
Exploding the Myths
of Male and Female

Phyllis Burke

1996, Anchor Books

254 Pages plus Notes

From the Cover

In Gender Shock, Phyllis Burke explores the many myths surrounding our rigid gender system of male and female.  Analyzing the latest research in psychology, genetics, neurology, and sociology, Burke finds that gender is not the result of one's biological sex, and that gender and sexuality are separate elements of the self.   Looking through three lenses of gender identity - behavior, appearance, and science - Burke challenges the notion that men and women are from different planets.  By revealing how there are more variations within each sex than there are between the two, Burke urges the embrace of a "gender independent culture," one in which individuals develop their best traits traditionally associated with both sexes, e.g., strong and nurturing, rational and empathetic.  An artful combination of investigative journalism, personal stories, and cultural criticism, Gender Shock liberates men and women alike from the prison of gender by envisioning a new and healthier understanding of our lives.

"[Phyllis Burke] translate basic principles underlying queer ivory-tower-speak into plain English and explains why it's important, in practical terms, to rethink beliefs about gender." - The Advocate

"Gender Shock does add something to the growing body of work on the subject of gender by not only tracking how our notions of gender evolve, but how they evolve fallaciously." - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"[Phyllis Burke] relies more on anecdote and example than on theory and sustain argument, thereby giving current discussions of gender a wider audience - and a human face." _ Kirkus Reviews

"Thought-provoking reading on the creation of gender identity for anyone who has a child, or who has ever been one." - Publishers Weekly

Table of Contents

The Feminine Boy Project at UCLA - Kraig
Blaming the Parents
The Creation of a Mental Illness
Hospitalizing the Child - Kit, Jamie, Daphne Scholinski
The Analysts - Stanley
The Domestic Sphere - Robert
Taboo Domestic Behavior

Outfits, Costumes, Uniforms and Disguises - Diane Torr's "Drag King Workshop", Miss Vera's Finishing School For Boys Who Want To Be Girls, Stefan Lynch
The Body as Evidence
The Body, Gender Identity and Sexuality
Seeing Male, Seeing Female

Are Boys and Girls Different?
All Girl, All Boy?



Readers' Comments



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Evan  EvBo7383@aol.com

i found it boring and repetitive

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Anniepoo  anniepoo@netmagic.net

As someone who was on the receiving end of this "therapy", I have to say I read the book with very mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was extremely grateful that somebody was finally telling some of our stories. On the other hand, I was offended that she clearly believed it was OK to torture children if it would save them from being transsexual. She spent a lot of time proving that the torturers were trying to stop the children from being gay or lesbian, when in fact it's irrelevant. Torturing children is wrong. It would disrespect those who died in the Holocaust to write a book that took pains to prove that it wasn't justified, that many non jews died, etc. Some acts are so monsterous that the only moral response must come from a place of outrage at the act, not at it's context. As Susan Stryker wrote, stories such as these deserve a better vehicle.


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Shelley Storm  rage@rage-cafe.net

This is a most indepth, revealing book that I'd lopve for everyone to read, if for nothing else than to just show the horrible things that people still go through just because they do not conform enough.