Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Anne Fausto-Sterling

                                                    Anne Fausto-Sterling

"The social organization and expression of human sexuality are neither timeless nor universal."

Anne Fausto- Sterling was born in 1944. Fausto-Sterling married Paula Vogel, an American Playwright and University Professor, on September 26, 2004 in Turro, Massachusetts.

Anne Fausto- Sterling was initially interested in the study of zoology. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1965. She continued her education and received her Ph.D. at Brown University in 1970 where she studied developmental genetics and its interaction with gender and sexuality. Anne Fausto-Sterling has a laboratory at Brown Universiy where she researches sexual reproduction and regeneration. She was able to study sexual reproduction by looking at the developmental ecology of flatworms. Fausto-Sterling is a Professor of Gender Studies and Biology as well as the Chair of the Science and Technology Studies program at Brown University. She has been part of the Brown faculty for more than 40 years as well as a part time professor at numerous institutions in the United States. Fausto-Sterling has also received numerous awards for her contributions to Feminist sexology and the study of intersexuality. She is most interested in developmental genetics, intersexuality and the connection between science and gender.
Aside from her involvement in the United States, Fausto-Sterling has also taught abroad in the subjects of Medical Science, Gender Studies, Science Studies and Biology. It is through her speeches and lectures where her education regarding gender roles and human sexuality can be best exhibited. She stresses that gender and science are intertwined and one cannot be studied without mentioning the other.

Professional Life:
In 1990 Anne became interested in the study of inter-sexed children. She became attracted to this field because at the time feminists were very interested in understanding the body as a social construction rather than strictly focusing on ones biology.
Anne has published three books in relation to the psychology of women. These three books are still referenced widely in feminist courses as well as scientific inquiry.  Myths of gender: biological theories about women and men, written in 1992 in which Anne describes the lack of validity behind the biological influence on sex differences. Her second book, Sexing the body: gender politics and the construction of sexuality focuses on the developmental systems of gender and rules out the common nature-nurture debate. Fausto-Sterling writes this book in hopes of introducing flexibility into the study of human behavior patterns. Fausto-Sterling’s third publication, Sex/Gender: Biology in a Social World integrates her specialty in the field of science. She introduces biochemistry, neurobiology and social construction in relation to gender and sexuality. All three of these publications have opened up avenues for current Feminists as well as future activists interested in dissecting the social norms and constructs around gender and sexuality.

Relevance to Class Material:
            Anne Fausto-Sterling has contributed tremendously to the study of sexuality as well as advocating the Feminist movement. She is one of the earliest Feminists to question the mainstream ideas around gender and its differences. She was the first to coin the words herm (“hermaphrodite”), merm (“male pseudo-hermaphrodite”) and ferm (“ female pseudo-hermaphrodite”). She exposed these three sexes as being just as significant in human sexuality as is female and male.
Fausto-Sterling, as well as other Feminists of her time, questioned the validity of science in determining what ones gender truly is. Her curiosity opened an avenue for Feminists and made people question the honesty regarding male superiority and female subordination. She exposed that by “blaming” a woman’s shortcomings strictly on science diminishes the realities of environmental and social causes. Aside from gender, Fausto-Sterling was one of the first feminists to look at the connections between race, gender and science. Her interest in this connection opened avenues for further exploration. Prior to Fausto-Sterling’s linking of the fields, biology was the only way one could understand sexuality and gender.


Sheen, Judy P. "Fausto-Sterling, Anne." Animal Sciences. 2002. Retrieved September 18, 2012 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3400500140.html

Code, L. (2000). Encyclopedia of Feminist Theories. p 236-237

Fausto-Sterling, A.  (2000). Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality.
Fausto-Sterling, A. (1993). The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are Not Enough. The Sciences, 20-24.

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