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Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism

Kathleen Stock

2 Reviews

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Feminism & feminist theory

A timely and trenchant critique of the influential theory that we all have an inner feeling about our sex, known as a gender identity, and that this feeling is more socially significant than our biological sex

'A clear, concise, easy-to-read account of the issues between sex, gender and feminism . . . an important book' Evening Standard

'A call for cool heads at a time of great heat and a vital reminder that revolutions don't always end well' Sunday Times

Material Girls is a timely and trenchant critique of the influential theory that we all have an inner feeling known as a gender identity, and that this feeling is more socially significant than our biological sex.

Professor Kathleen Stock surveys the philosophical ideas that led to this point, and closely interrogates each one, from De Beauvoir's statement that, 'One is not born, but rather becomes a woman' (an assertion she contends has been misinterpreted and repurposed), to Judith Butler's claim that language creates biological reality, rather than describing it. She looks at biological sex in a range of important contexts, including women-only spaces and resources, healthcare, epidemiology, political organization and data collection.

Material Girls makes a clear, humane and feminist case for our retaining the ability to discuss reality, and concludes with a positive vision for the future, in which trans rights activists and feminists can collaborate to achieve some of their political aims.

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Praise for Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism

  • [Material Girls] pack[s] a punch . . . A call for cool heads at a time of great heat and a vital reminder that revolutions don't always end well - Sunday Times

  • Reading the book I felt an intense sense of relief that finally a comprehensive account of gender identity theory was presented and explored with both clarity and depth . . . a clear, concise, easy-to-read account of the issues between sex, gender and feminism . . . an important book, and it is the middle ground who need to read it as it shows how, if we are to live in a world where gender identity trumps biological sex, then it will be women - the physically weaker sex - who lose out - Evening Standard

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Kathleen Stock

Professor Kathleen Stock is an analytic philosopher at the University of Sussex. She has published widely on the philosophy of fiction and imagination. Born in Aberdeen, she studied French and Philosophy at Oxford, completed an MLitt in Philosophy at the University of St Andrews and a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Leeds. She taught at the University of Lancaster and the University of East Anglia before her appointment at Sussex in 2003. Earlier this year, she was awarded an OBE for services to higher education.

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