"Just Like A Woman: How Gender Science is Redefining What Makes Us Female" by Dianne Hales

A Review by Sidra Vitale


'"Just Like A Woman" presents the cutting-edge findings in anthropology, physiology, psychology, neuroscience, endocrinology and medicine that are redefining what a woman is.'

For a book jacket, that's pretty damn accurate.

One of the things I found so interesting about this book is a quip from the book jacket: allegedly, _Just Like a Woman_ is "refreshingly free of ideology". What it really is, is chock full of third wave feminist ideology, by its very nature, not second wave -- thus, as third wave feminism has remained so 'under the radar' in comparison to its parent wave, a second wave analyst is likely to see this book as "ideology-free".

But it's not. Third wave feminist ideology can be summarized in a very simplistic fashion:

"Of course I'm a woman, you idiot. Get a grip."

Historically, women have been defined by their biology, by their different-ness from the 'standard' male stereotype. Second wave feminist ideology pushed perspectives of women completely out of their bodies, treating women as formless intellects, and denying our physical selves. This is a logical extremism to take in the face of gender-based "women are different, therefore women are inferior" thought. However, it is time to swing back to the middle, more moderate area of thought -- men and women are different from one another, and that makes them each unique, with different physical weaknesses and strengths, and that such diversity in our species is a natural thing, and a thing that makes us stronger and more capable than a more homogeneous animal.

_Just Like A Woman_ is an excellent introduction to the more moderate ideology that characterizes the third wave of feminism. That doesn't ignore women's bodies -- instead, stands up and says "I have a body." That phrase may be followed by "...and *this* is how I want to be pleasured" or "...and *this* is how I express rage" or "...and *this* is how my brain chemistry reacts to anti- migraine medication".

_Just Like A Woman_ illustrates key distinctions between the female and male of our species, from verbal skills, to our sense of smell, to neurochemistry. Women, for example, have a higher core body temperature than men do. That distinction begs such fundamental questions as "why"? and even, "how"? And maybe helps you consider more trivial situations such as why your co-worker is always too hot even though you both sit under the same AC vent.

Dianne Hales' _Just Like A Woman_ is divided into three sections:

I heartily recommend this work to the budding feminist, women and men curious about the internal bodily workings of women, and the mature second wave feminist.

Copyright 1999 Sidra M. S. Vitale.