Testosterone Rex: Cordelia Fine

testoWith TCAF being this very weekend (come check it out! I will be at the Queer Mixer along with new footage from the Queer Japan film that we will show you! </shameless self promotion>), you’d think my brain would be one hundred percent comics all the time these days. And it mostly is! The other day, I devoured So Pretty/Very Rotten by Jane Mai and An Nguyen, a satisfyingly thick volume of comics and essays on Lolita fashion that I very much enjoyed. But An is a friend of mine, so I would feel weird about going on here about how great her book is. (But it is, though! You should read it. Also, if you’re in town for the big comics party, there’s a related art show at the Japan Foundation, and Jane and An will be talking about the book on Sunday moderated by yours truly. You should come! </shameless self + friend promotion>) I also read Canis the Speaker, and I have many thoughts, but my brain is still processing them. We work slowly.

But when I saw a new Cordelia Fine book on the shelf on my local bookseller, I couldn’t not pick it up. I loved her snarky takedown of gender constructions in Delusions of Gender, and Testosterone Rex with its subtitle of Myths of Sex, Science, and Society promised to deliver more of the same. And it does! This time, rather than straight up gender constructs, Fine tackles the myths surrounding testosterone and the idea that this hormone runs rampant in the male half of the species, creating this uncrossable divide between men and women. Unsurprisingly—and spoiler alert—she finds that all of this is pretty much garbage in a bunch of different ways. Continue reading

Advertisements

Feynman: Jim Ottaviani & Leland Myrick

My full-on love of all things science has been documented here before, but some of you may be doubting my science nerd credentials. I mean, sure, I have that degree in mathematics and everything, but all I ever write about here is comics and fiction with a side dish of social justice oriented non-fiction. Just where is the science? you might be wondering. Never fear, I am about to destroy you with my combined nerd powers: Science plus comics!

Here is how deep my science nerdism runs: This year at TCAF, the glorious festival of all things comics here in Toronto, I was interpreting for Kanata Konami, author of the adorable and slightly diabetes-inducing, but ultimately thought-provoking Chi’s Sweet Home, which meant that I spent the entire festival making sure her, her editor and her husband had someone to speak English for them at all times. (I also made sure they were fed new foreign treats with trips to an Ethiopian restaurant and a falafel place. Yes, as an interpreter, it is my duty to ensure that Japanese guests all taste the chick pea goodness that is the falafel.) And as much fun as I had with Team Konami (including the delightful discovery that Konami herself is also a huge fan of Ekoda-chan. We bonded), trailing them meant I had little to no time to check out the many great exhibitors and buy a ton of books myself. This is good for my long-suffering wallet, less good for my book-battling brain.  Continue reading

Unnatural Selection: Mira Hvistendahl

This book depressed the hell out of me. Really. Page after page detailing just why I, as a member of the lady subset of humans, am really not wanted, and all the terrible things that people are doing to get rid of me. Mostly they are having sex selective abortions. And they are mostly having them in Asia and Eastern Europe, thanks to Western pressure and technology.

Unnatural Selection is yet another non-fiction book with an unwieldy subtitle that says it all: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men. Hvistendahl spends the first third of the book, “Everyone Has Boys Now”, documenting how people are choosing boys over girls, mostly in the developing world. Right off the bat, she makes a depressing point: “Sexism might be an obvious culprit for imbalance if it weren’t so universal. Parents in nearly all cultures say they prefer boys, and yet sex selection only strikes in part of the world.” Almost all parents would rather have boys. Continue reading

The Hidden Reality: Brian Greene

Put on your science pants! My brain’s taking a trip down science-nerd lane! A trip it often takes!

Here’s the thing. I am a science nerd. I very nearly went into theoretical physics at university, but instead opted for pure maths. But it was always a close race. I dabbled in physics throughout my university career, and I could never quite satisfy my curiosity, which led to me reading popular science book after popular science book in my quest to bridge the gap between my math and my physics, but in a way that didn’t require me to go back to school and suffer through academia again. (I am just not built for that world, despite my true love of learning all things.) Someday, my brain will put to pixel its adoration of physics classics like Black Holes and Time Warps by Kip Thorne, or In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat by John Gribbin, but until then, you’ll just have to take my word that my brain loves physics. String theory, M-theory, quantum field theory: bring it! is the general attitude around these parts. Continue reading