've always been fascinated by brain science and the biological reasons for what we do and why we do it, especially from a gender perspective. I grew up a feminist and used to think that all humans were basically wired the same way, other than the obvious physical differences. Males were the way they were because they were forced into sports, were given toy guns and trucks to play with, had different expectations set upon them by society. Females were boxed into nurturing roles as children, given dolls, not allowed to be as physical as boys, blah blah. I realized I was wrong when my first niece was born. No matter how many trucks and balls she was given to play with, she really just wanted her jumping horse to nurse her other animal toys. The trucks sat idle. She was a nurturer from the get-go.
Now is an exciting time in neuroscience research; we hear new information daily about how our hardwiringour brainsand our softwarehormones and other brain chemicalsaffect our behavior, our skills, our preferences, even our peccadilloes. I gobble up everything I can find to read about it, and it's reflected in this new book.
The main character in Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe
, Mira, is a middle-aged biology teacher, and she understands human nature at this basic biological level, yet she has tamped down her own nature from the time she was a child. It's only when she's forced to that she begins the process of understanding her biology as well as her head and her heart. The journey she makes is not unlike the journey we all go on at some point in our lives: the journey to becoming whole, to finally becoming real, as painful as that often is.
I have to admit that, as a middle-aged woman myself (and by the way, still a proud feminist), I also wanted to explore what it means to be a sexual female in our society at an age where we're no longer considered (and I apologize for this word in advance, but it is the word bandied about in our culture) "fuckable" by society's standards. Well, that's just crazy to me. We're at an age where we know who we are, we know what we like, and we pretty much know what our partners like. We're smart and funny and sexy. We're damn sexy, in fact, and if certain people don't see that, I guess it's best to leave them to their high-breasted, smooth-skinned but generationally-challenged fantasies. I don't mean to sound bitter, because I'm not. I'm frustrated, but it all comes down to biology. Only by understanding it can we make the choice to move beyond it.
I'm also starting to understand why we over-forty-women get labeled as crazy old ladies, because I'm just not content to shut up and disappear. Then again, I never was. And don't you, either!
Synopsis and Praise
Prologue and Chapter 1
Reading Group Guide
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