• Material Girls

  • Why Reality Matters for Feminism
  • By: Kathleen Stock
  • Narrated by: Kathleen Stock
  • Length: 8 hrs and 43 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (120 ratings)

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Material Girls  By  cover art

Material Girls

By: Kathleen Stock
Narrated by: Kathleen Stock
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Publisher's Summary

Material Girls is a timely and trenchant critique of the influential theory that we all have an inner feeling known as a gender identity, and that this feeling is more socially significant than our biological sex.

Professor Kathleen Stock surveys the philosophical ideas that led to this point, and closely interrogates each one, from De Beauvoir's statement that, 'One is not born, but rather becomes a woman' (an assertion she contends has been misinterpreted and repurposed), to Judith Butler's claim that language creates biological reality, rather than describing it. She looks at biological sex in a range of important contexts, including women-only spaces and resources, healthcare, epidemiology, political organisation and data collection.

Material Girls makes a clear, humane and feminist case for our retaining the ability to discuss reality, and concludes with a positive vision for the future, in which trans rights activists and feminists can collaborate to achieve some of their political aims.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 Kathleen Stock (P)2021 Hachette Audio UK
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: LGBTQ+

Critic Reviews

"A clear, concise, easy-to-read account of the issues between sex, gender and feminism...an important book." (Evening Standard)

"A call for cool heads at a time of great heat and a vital reminder that revolutions don't always end well." (Sunday Times)

What listeners say about Material Girls

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

thoughtful

a thorough discussion of the importance of retaining rights and protections for women and girls while ensuring the inclusion and equality of trans people.

12 people found this helpful

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Semi sensible regarding the matter.

It's unfortunate the damage desperate and greedy lobbying groups have done to Transsexuals, Homosexuals, Women, and Sex based rights. In 2021 you'd hope people would be smarter and wiser, but they're just more brainwashed and Narcissistic. I feel awful for those with children sucked into this ideology.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Ek
  • 12-14-21

recommend

Kathleen Stock did an excellent job. Although she and I may not agree on everything, I enjoyed learning about her well organized and well presented perspectives. She is a firm, intelligent and conscientious teacher and leader. I recommend this book.

5 people found this helpful

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Brilliant analysis

This is a sympathetic, logical, and important contribution to the contemporary discussion of sex and gender.

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Oops…

So…. I purchased the book “Material Girls”… Chapters 1-4, I thought that I was reading a book in support of Transgender people to educate myself…

Chapter 5 on = HARDCORE T.E.R.F.

I should’ve done more research before buying the book…

2 people found this helpful

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Well written, clearly read, clarifying

Highly recommended contribution to the debate on sex & gender. Without being lofty or "academic" Stock explains in clear language how the debate between transgender advocates and feminists has become so muddy, by clearly identifying the many different meanings of the words and concepts in use. Taking gender for example, she identifies at least 4 different meanings that are in current use by activists, government officials, policy makers, medics and scientists, which make this debate so fraught and confused. She lays out current theories on both sides and provides clear explanations.

Chapters are a bit long (an hour each - I'd prefer shorter) and the context of examples and law is UK focused, but that doesn't diminish the importance of this book.

I found especially valuable chapters 2(What is sex), 4 (What is Gender Identity?), 5 (What Makes a Woman?) which really will help me understand arguments on the various sides better going forward, and 8 (A Better Activism in Future) which puts out her vision for improvement of this debate, and questions that need to be quantitatively answered (but currently are not), for policy to move forward.

Much gratitude to Professor Stock for writing this book under conditions of such extreme vilification. Read this, and you will find nothing to warrant the personal attacks Stock has experienced for her thoughtful perspective.

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Really great listen

Whether you agree with the author or not, she lays out great arguments for keeping an open mind and not demeaning folks because they may have a different opinion.

I found the book after hearing her story. I felt such anger and sadness that someone is forced from their job for simply speaking their own truth. It’s such a contradiction to what we hear from activists.

I highly recommend this book and hearing it read by the author was really impactful.

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What's her point?

This book is very broad with enough "statists" to seem coherent ... but much like the many interviews I have watched of the author ...what's her point" who is the audience she is trying to reach. I think there are a lot of "truths" of her ideas or concepts of "trans" people . That being said - what should be done? The sad "truth" is the veracity of the "trans" community is just as diverse ... trans women are woman... they are not, At least in some ways require different things... sadly what I don't think gets any conversation are those that just want to be... aware of medical and personal experiences but for greater point of just being... and its voices like her that makes transition even harder.. Every "trans" person is aware of their passing" ability and in social spaces... and yet the ability to live in that role has to happen before they have protections... go to restrooms - get a job - health care - body changes...

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Much Needed Analysis

in a world where dissenting views are censored, dismissed, and denigrated, Kathleen Stock offers a well-documented thesis with robust evidence. a must read for anyone interested in the topic

1 person found this helpful

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An eloquent step-by-step dismantling of gender ideology

Kathleen Stock, like Helen Joyce, writes with devastating clarity about trans ideology, its history and evolution, and the practical consequences for a tolerant, humane public that hasn’t yet thought it through but will soon have no choice. In return, of course, she’s been attacked viciously, relentlessly and with serious professional consequence; yet she betrays no anger, nor even occasional hints of snark for which she could absolutely be forgiven. This book is one of the best concerning the astonishing situation we find ourselves in.

1 person found this helpful

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  • SilverSea
  • 09-20-21

A really important book for our age

Kathleen Stock clearly explains, backed up by philosophical argument, what gender identity theory is and how it is changing our world. She dismantles the arguments of gender identity theorists whilst retaining sympathy with trans people, and explains why feminists embracing trans activism are doing their own cause damage. She reads it carefully and clearly. I plan to buy it in paper- it is the kind of book where you need to refer back, and would definitely warrant several readings. It is a refreshing, unhysterical and incisive dismantling of theories and trends which are taking over our institutions in unexamined ways, with consequences we mostly have our eyes shut to, in the laudable name of tolerance and liberalism. Ignore the shrill cries of transphobic! TERF! levelled by trans activists - this is a must read for anyone who cares about the future of liberal society.

21 people found this helpful

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  • David P.
  • 10-30-21

A great introduction for an outsider to the debate

As a cis-gendered heterosexual male with a generally centre-right (but socially liberal) political persuasion, safe to say I am probably not the books predominant demographic.

I became interested to seek an answer to why two progressive ideas (namely some strands of feminism and trans activism) seem to be attacking each other so viciously when those on the right would expect them to be natural bedfellows. This book provided a great introduction to the debate to me, although still left me questioning why it has generated such vitriol (not a question the book sets out to answer).

I found Stock's argument for a real basis of biological sex persuasive, particularly the use of the 'cluster model of sex' which has good parallels in the way which biologists (my field) think about species. I once argued the idea of a species was a made up construct to a university tutor, because of edge cases like ring species which don't fit the mould. But he argued back persuasively that species were real with the concept of cluster models. I also find Stock's argument persuasive about cases where 'sex' as a concept as opposed to gender identity continues to be important, particularly in the case of sport, and safe spaces for women.

One criticism I have is the assertion that most cis-gendered people don't have a strong gender identity. I would argue from person experience that I do. I am male, I feel male, masculinity feels part of my identity. Shaving, driving, shooting, working out. All these things make me feel a sense of maleness, But I'm not trans, my identity matches my sex. So I would assert I do feel a gender identify even though I am cis-gendered.

On reflection, I think the debate forms part of a wider tendency on the left to shut down debate by labelling opponents in such a way that what ever they say is delegitimised. You criticise Israeli government policy? You must be anti-Semitic. You support Brexit? You must harbour racist views. You critique gender identify theory, you must be a TERF. I commend this book for refusing to to be cancelled.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Clay Baker
  • 10-03-21

really interesting

Very informative. Helped untangle a lot of the confusion I had around this subject. Its an important subject we need to talk about more, but I'm usually too afraid to ask people what they think about in case I unintentionally offend them/someone. I am probably still too afraid to go around asking strangers about this but I can at least feel more aware of many of the important arguments when talking to those I know well enough to assume they trust I'm trying to learn and understand. And hopefully my risk of causing upset during such a conversation will be lessened having heard this book.

8 people found this helpful

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  • London Sam
  • 10-20-21

Essential reading

Thorough, well-researched and well reasoned. Absolutely demolished modern genderist / transgenderist theory and rhetoric in a way which, if you actually read it, there is no coming back from. The only possible excuse for continued belief in that cultish set of ideas is an ignorance of the existence of this book.

6 people found this helpful

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  • JacobusLochmanCliff
  • 10-11-21

An excellent book

A really enjoyable read, very accessable for everyone, clearly, precisely and cogently argued. Great to read a book by someone who is clearly taking a strong stance on the importance of biological sex but who clearly values knowledge kindness and corurtesyrdt f - both in terms of the solutions she proposes and in terms of the tone of her writing. One of the best books to read if you want you understand the way the dramatic shifts in our understanding of what gender is have come about/ been contrived. I was glad to listen to something by someone clearly trying to make a productive contribution and present evidence and arguments rather than just to keep making assertions.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Marie Powell
  • 11-18-21

A clear insight into the debate over ‘gender identity’ versus ‘biological sex’

I bought this book after hearing about the awful way the author was treated at her place of work - the University of Sussex where she was a Philosophy Professor and had worked for 18 years. She received such hatred and abusive vitriol for writing a book that dared question whether sex (biology) is or should be more important than gender (feelings/social construct) that she ended up leaving her job. When she was interviewed on Radio 4 and I heard of her plight, I was completely unaware of the huge division caused by the trans activism in the UK and beyond. Keen to educate myself on the issues around me, I read this book, I listened to Nolan Investigates, a BBC investigative podcast highlighting the reach and impact of the lobby group, Stonewall, searched news articles, interviews and asked people around me their thoughts. Now, I posses a much better understanding of the issues and why they cause so much controversy. Whether you draw any conclusion from this book, or whether it supports your current held beliefs, I genuinely think it’s worth everyone reading because it’s written objectively - presenting the extremely well researched facts with an analytical eye that seems to do service to the argument on both sides of the debate.

This subject matter is one that seems to draw out the very worst in people; a ‘if you’re not with me, you’re against me’ attitude. Debate seems to have been replaced with subjective, hate filled missiles being lobbed. The real world implications of this movement on particular groups which raises genuine concerns of safety and safeguarding seems to have been entirely overlooked by people in power who should know better or at least seek to fully understand the concerns and consequences of their actions. This awful war of the sides was evident in the way the author was treated by the students and teachers following its publication. I appreciate the impact it has had on her life & career. I want to say thank you for being brave enough (in a world where simply questioning the ideology causes such hatred to be directed at you) to write such a well researched, well articulated book that helps to inform the debate and separate facts from fiction.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Droid
  • 10-29-21

REALITY!!!

I am absolutely disgusted that Kathleen Stock has been bullied and vilified because of her beliefs. Her findings and beliefs are based in reality. I highly recommend this book/audible.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-11-21

Timely

Got this title off the back of an Unherd interview and a genuine interest to learn more.

The book is well structured, sensitive and logically sound until the latter stages.

There seemed to be elements of either dissonance or inconsistency when discussing feminism towards and intersectionality.

Soundbites of this title would be easy to misconstrue for shock and disgust value. The final phases of the piece concerning the demand in publishing circles left me questioning the motives of the author.

Well worth a listen regardless, you don't need to agree with someone wholly or partially to entertain their position. Great to see someone actually highlighting links with autism, people deserve help, love and support, not propaganda.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Brian McGrath
  • 11-01-21

Food for thought.

A thoughtful treatise on a contentious and difficut subject. Well worth a read if interested.

1 person found this helpful

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  • dikdok
  • 11-23-22

Profound analysis of Trans Ideology and its consequences.

This is a rigorous and lucid examination of Trans Ideology. Stock forensically and carefully examines the evolution of the concept of ‘Gender Identity’ and associated ideas and demolishes what passes for academic work in this field, such as the belief that sex is socially constructed. This is as thorough and detailed a philosophical examination as you would expect from a philosopher, and shames the rest of the academic world in its acceptance of the half-baked theories which make up Trans ideology. But Stock is no transphobe. She is a vigorous defender of the human rights of trans people and argues compassionately for a real understanding of what underlies the desire to ‘change sex’ in and how society should respond in a humane and understanding way. She observes that trans ideology has morphed into a campaign to obliterate sex differences to the detriment of society and particularly to women and girls. Girls are now the majority of people identifying with another sex (or none) and social contagion mixed up with other issues, such as autism, anxiety about puberty, objectification of women, depression, and self-harming is being treated as simply a case of gender identity leading to puberty blockers and irreversible surgery. Some detransitioners now profoundly regret what they have done to their bodies. For producing this outstanding academic work, Stock has been vilified. If you want an example of how to write a readable yet highly academic work, this is perfect.

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  • David
  • 12-24-21

One of the most needed books on this topic

I was pleased to find a book that engaged with the topic trans identity from a philosophical perspective. I was blown away by the depth of analysis and exploration of the topic. An expert piece presented brilliantly. I’ll be listening to this again and again.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mike C
  • 01-04-22

accessible and candid take on gender identity

Stock impresses with her structured analysis and solid evidence base. I thank her for her scholarship and honour her bravery in the face of terrible vilification by individuals and powerful organisations. I will recommend this to numerous people I know who have been at least in part seduced by the hegemonic imposition of gender identity on cultural, social and legal settings.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-10-22

A very important book

This book takes such a divisive topic and speaks so logically whilst remaining empathetic. A must read for all parents and women!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-31-22

Slippage

Great analysis of this pernicious ideology, however Kath would have been better served not to slide into unsubstantiated slurs of male stereotypes.
Until then I thought she was far too smart to let those little personal peccadilloes creep in !