She/He/They/Me Book Summary - She/He/They/Me Book explained in key points
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She/He/They/Me summary

Robyn Ryle

For the Sisters, Misters, and Binary Resisters

2.7 (282 ratings)
36 mins

Brief summary

In 'She/He/They/Me', Robyn Ryle explores the complex and fluid nature of gender identity. Through a personal and sociological lens, the book unpacks how gender affects our perceptions, experiences, and relationships in society, and the possibility of creating a more inclusive future.

Table of Contents

    She/He/They/Me
    Summary of 12 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 12

    The traditional view of gender is simplistic, reductive and problematic.

    Before we set off on our journey to explore the possibilities of gender, we first need to lose some of our baggage. Otherwise, we’ll be carrying too much weight to travel freely. 

    To lighten our load, we must set aside the simplistic, conventional notion of gender that can drag down our thinking about the subject. 

    Let’s start by laying it out on the table and examining its logic. Gender is typically thought of as a natural, objective distinction that divides people into one of two categories: male or female. If you’re male, you normally have a penis, and you act in certain ways people call “masculine” – like being dominant and feeling sexually attracted to women. Conversely, if you’re female, you normally have a vagina, and you act in certain ways people call “feminine” – like being passive and feeling sexually attracted to men. 

    That’s more or less the “common sense” understanding of gender in modern Western society. Notice what’s baked into it: a set of unexamined assumptions about what’s “objective,” “natural” and “normal,” coupled with a series of black-and-white, binary oppositions, like masculine/feminine, penis/vagina and dominant/passive. All of these assumptions and oppositions are highly questionable, for reasons we’ll look at in the course of our journey. 

    With this conventional notion of gender, we can also notice a lot of conflation going on between concepts and aspects of reality that should be distinguished from each other. In thinking about gender this way, we’re mixing up biological sex, gender assignment, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation – blurring them together into a confusing mess of ideas. 

    We’ll unpack all of these concepts in due time. For now, the important thing to note is simply this: the conventional notion of gender is pretty reductive – and deeply problematic. 

    As we’ll see, the reality of gender is much more complicated. It involves many other factors, dimensions and possibilities, which are overlooked or even outright obscured by the “common sense” understanding of gender. 

    And, as is often the case, this “common sense” may be common, but it doesn’t really make much sense, at least in terms of capturing the complexities of reality. In the journey ahead, we’ll be striving to do these complexities better justice.

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    What is She/He/They/Me about?

    She/He/They/Me (2019) provides readers with a unique opportunity to explore the many concepts and phenomena of gender. Weaving anthropology, global history and gender studies into a fascinating blend of empirical information and theoretical speculation, author Robyn Ryle opens our eyes to the sheer vastness of the possible forms that gender can take.

    She/He/They/Me Review

    She/He/They/Me (2021) is a thought-provoking exploration of gender identity and expression. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It presents a wide range of personal stories that offer diverse perspectives on gender, fostering empathy and understanding.
    • Rich in research and expert insights, it provides a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of gender, helping readers navigate their own identities.
    • The book challenges societal norms and encourages critical thinking, igniting conversations and promoting inclusivity in a world that often misunderstands gender.

    Who should read She/He/They/Me?

    • People interested in fighting for a society that has more gender equality 
    • Those seeking a deeper understanding of masculinity and femininity 
    • Individuals interested in doing away with such dualities altogether

    About the Author

    Robyn Ryle is a professor of sociology and gender studies at Hanover College in Indiana. She’s the author of the textbook Questioning Gender: A Sociological Exploration, and her academic writing about gender inequality has appeared in SAGE Publications’ Investigating Social Problems textbook and the Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality. For general audiences, her essays have appeared in Gawker, StorySouth and Little Fiction/Big Truths.

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    She/He/They/Me FAQs 

    What is the main message of She/He/They/Me?

    The main message of She/He/They/Me is to embrace and celebrate the fluidity and diversity of gender identities.

    How long does it take to read She/He/They/Me?

    The reading time for She/He/They/Me varies, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just a few minutes.

    Is She/He/They/Me a good book? Is it worth reading?

    She/He/They/Me is a thought-provoking book that challenges gender norms and encourages inclusivity. It's definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of She/He/They/Me?

    The author of She/He/They/Me is Robyn Ryle.

    What to read after She/He/They/Me?

    If you're wondering what to read next after She/He/They/Me, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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