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Cordelia Fine On Unlearning Gender

  • One Roof Women 80-81 City Road Southbank, VIC, 3006 Australia (map)
Thankfully, the principle of sex equality – that no one should be denied an opportunity simply on the basis of the genitalia they happen to have stowed in their undies – is reasonably well entrenched in Western, contemporary societies. Yet we still struggle to break free from binary thinking around gender. Cordelia Fine argues that a pervasive and powerful myth harms all of us by telling us that men and women have evolved different natures: Testosterone Rex. We all know Testosterone Rex. It’s that familiar and compelling set of interconnected beliefs that tells us that risk-taking, competitive, status-seeking masculinity has evolved more strongly in males because it enhances their reproductive success, and is therefore wired into the male brain, and fuelled by testosterone. Not so, says psychologist Cordelia Fine, whose latest book Testosterone Rex: Unmaking the Myths of our Gendered Minds (Icon, 2017) shows that sex doesn't create male and female natures. Instead, sex, hormones, culture and evolution work together in ways that make past and present gender dynamics only a serving suggestion for the future - not a recipe.  In this unique conversation event Cordelia Fine draws on evolutionary science, psychology, neuroscience and social history to move beyond old 'nature versus nurture' debates. Fine will be joined on stage by comedian, broadcaster and writer Meshel Laurie, as we explore how this new scientific view can transform how we think about our prospects for social change. With wit and a touch of humour, we will leave with a new understanding of gender and the knowledge to challenge the age-old cliché ‘boys will be boys’.

Thankfully, the principle of sex equality – that no one should be denied an opportunity simply on the basis of the genitalia they happen to have stowed in their undies – is reasonably well entrenched in Western, contemporary societies. Yet we still struggle to break free from binary thinking around gender. Cordelia Fine argues that a pervasive and powerful myth harms all of us by telling us that men and women have evolved different natures: Testosterone Rex.

We all know Testosterone Rex. It’s that familiar and compelling set of interconnected beliefs that tells us that risk-taking, competitive, status-seeking masculinity has evolved more strongly in males because it enhances their reproductive success, and is therefore wired into the male brain, and fuelled by testosterone. Not so, says psychologist Cordelia Fine, whose latest book Testosterone Rex: Unmaking the Myths of our Gendered Minds (Icon, 2017) shows that sex doesn't create male and female natures. Instead, sex, hormones, culture and evolution work together in ways that make past and present gender dynamics only a serving suggestion for the future - not a recipe. 

In this unique conversation event Cordelia Fine draws on evolutionary science, psychology, neuroscience and social history to move beyond old 'nature versus nurture' debates. Fine will be joined on stage by comedian, broadcaster and writer Meshel Laurie, as we explore how this new scientific view can transform how we think about our prospects for social change. With wit and a touch of humour, we will leave with a new understanding of gender and the knowledge to challenge the age-old cliché ‘boys will be boys’.