Sociology, Department of


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Published in Gender & Society 22 (2008), pp. 393–394; doi 10.1177/0891243208315384 Copyright © 2008 Sociologists for Women in Society; published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


Shira Tarrant’s book, When Sex Became Gender, analyzes the intellectual work of five women between the first and second waves of feminism (i.e., between 1920 and 1965). Tarrant specifically “confronts the bonds of ideology” surrounding feminist theory that were created in the cold war years in the United States, Britain, and France. She does so in an in-depth examination of five women who wrote about women’s social location: Margaret Mead, the anthropologist who studied sex roles and socialization; Mirra Komarovsky, the functionalist sociologist who interrogated sex roles, paid labor, and marriage; Viola Klein, the sociologist and sociology of knowledge theorist and sex role analyst, who also worked with Alva Myrdal, the Swedish sociologist and Nobelist; Simone de Beauvoir, the existential feminist who wrote the ground-breaking The Second Sex; and the social constructionist Ruth Herschberger, who wrote on the gendered ideology surrounding biological science and language.

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