Event Information

Date & Time
April 7, 2016 - 4:15pm
Levinthal Hall, Stanford Humanities Center
424 Santa Teresa
Stanford , CA
California US

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Book Talk - "The Social Sex: A History of Female Friendship"


In today’s culture, the bonds of female friendship are taken as a given, but only a few centuries ago, the idea of female friendship was completely unacknowledged, even pooh­poohed. Only men, the reasoning went, had the necessary qualities to develop and sustain such meaningful relationships. Surveying history, literature, philosophy, religion, and pop culture, Clayman Senior Scholar Marilyn Yalom and Theresa Donovan Brown, who has a BA from Stanford and an MBA from UC Berkeley, demonstrate how women co-opted the public face of friendship. Their book, The Social Sex: A History  of Female Friendship, illuminates the story of women as friends throughout the ages: in medieval convents, in 17th and 18th century literary salons, in 19th century romantic relations, among early 20th century working girls, on today's internet, and more. Yalom and Brown will accompany their lecture with pictures that do not appear in the book.

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This event is sponsored by the Clayman Institute for Gender Research and the Stanford Humanities Center; co-sponsored by Faculty Women's Forum, Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Development & Diversity.



  • Marilyn Yalom
    • Senior Scholar
    • Clayman Institute Director, 1984 - 1985
    Marilyn Yalom has an extensive list of scholarly publications, including Blood Sisters (1993), A History of the Breast (1997), A History of the Wife (2001), Birth of the Chess Queen (2004) and How the French Invented Love (2012), which was a finalist for the Christian Gauss Phi Beta Kappa literary criticism award.  Her 2008 book, The American Resting Place, contains a portfolio of 64 black and white art photos taken...
    • Author
    Theresa Donovan Brown is an award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction. She holds a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. Her background writing policy-level speeches for global economic leaders, trading securities, and running a financial communications firm informs her insights into the cultural history of friendship.