Gender exists in almost every society as a way of organizing its people. Gender is used to assign certain responsibilities, obligations, and privileges to some, and to deny them to others. In Gender: A World History, Susan Kingsley Kent tells the story of this seemingly simple but in fact quite complex concept. With historical perspective she critically examines our everyday understandings of women and men, masculinity and femininity, and sexual difference in general. Central to this account is the conviction that gender is neither natural nor innocent. What passes for masculinity and femininity in one society might not do so in another. Even the passing of time can change what gender looks like in a particular culture. Thinking about the history of gender can also shed light on other types of relations, such as those between a government and its people, between different social classes, and between a colony and its colonizer.
Ranging from prehistory to the present, this book presents a chronological picture of gender across the globe. From Hatshepsut and the rise of patriarchy in the ancient world, to the Bushido code of the samurai in wartime, to Susan B. Anthony and the women's rights movement in the United States, to the gay and trans rights movements of today, the force of gender in world history cannot be denied.