Mary P. Ryan


On her book Mysteries of Sex: Tracing Women and Men Through American History

Cover Interview of July 29, 2009


At the dawn of the twenty-first century all three axes of gender had been remodeled.  The roles of men and women had become distinctly more symmetrical, the imperative of heterosexual relations been men and women had been substantially relaxed thanks to the gay liberation movement, and the dominance of men had been significantly reduced, be it measured in average wages, or numbers of high ranking women among public officials.

Yet the injustices, inequities and human cost that fester along those stubborn but flexible dividing lines between male and female have not disappeared.  With the eclipse of feminism, moreover, gender seldom gets much public attention.  Relative indifference to gender has also returned to the historical profession, still comfortable in its old haunts, the past lives of presidents, warriors, and other elite white males.  This book is meant as a summons to citizens and historians to remain vigilant about the continuing mysteries of sex.

© 2009 Mary Ryan