Posts tagged Gender

Sex, and not the natural kind.

Here’s a story from last month over at Science Made Easy, featuring a nice diagram which is (misleadingly, in my view) called the Tree of Sex.

What makes a creature male or a female? If you mentioned the X and the Y chromosomes, you are correct. I mean, you’re correct if you ignore most forms of life on this planet. If you actually take the time to examine the lifestyles of different life forms, many of the basic assumptions about sex differences don’t hold.

I am going to try and explain this to you, using the Tree of Sex. This family tree traces the ancestry of sex in all of its weird and wonderful manifestations. Those Pie charts are coded according to the method of sex, and I will be explaining what each of those colour codes mean below.

. . .

–Faz Alam, What can we learn from the Tree of Sex?
Science Made Easy (3 June 2014).

You should read the whole article, because if you’re not familiar with this stuff, it’s pretty interesting from a scientific standpoint.

That said, I think that the main thing that this kind of diagram shows is that really it’s kind of a silly and obsolete bit of cultural detritus that we go on pretending that bees and mayflies and fig trees even have male and female sexes that way that humans or turkeys (kind of, somewhat) have male and female sexes. They have sexual reproduction, sure, but when it comes to the idea of the sexes of individual organisms, what we’re talking about across all these different species are basically very different biological phenomena. They’re basically very different in what they arise from, structurally, and they’re also basically very different in how they function. Trying to wrap them up with human categories for sexual dimorphism[1] is at this point kind of like imagining that the queen of an anthill goes around wearing a little crown and ordering ant commoners to do her bidding. Biological sex is not a natural kind, it is the projection of a social metaphor, and often it’s kind of a misleading or an unhelpful one.

  1. [1]Actually, spoiler alert, biological sex is actually also really complicated in human beings and the binary social categories don’t line up all that perfectly with the diversity of actual human bodies.

Riots and gender

From Suzie at Echnidne of the Snakes. Reposted without further comment, to elicit thought and conversation.

Riots & gender

Large-scale violence rarely triggers a public discussion of gender, even though men and boys are the majority of perpetrators. Consider last week’s mayhem in Britain: Although some women participated, most of those involved have been young men from poor areas, the Guardian reported.

The civil liberties of male suspects are being discussed, and for good reason — some sentences sound absurd. But what about the rights of women who wanted to go about their business, without ending up in a mob of angry men? The threat of male violence restricts the lives of women, but people have become so accustomed to it that it often goes unquestioned.

Concepts of masculinity play a large role. A man may get respect through violence, or with the right consumer goods. After all, marketing tells us how men should look and what stuff they need. But it does the same for women, and we’re not nearly as likely to break a store window to get what we want or to gain respect. . . .

A 15-year-old boy has been charged with raping a 13-year-old girl in Woolwich. But the Guardian points out that it happened after the riots there, not during, as had been first reported. Now we are free to ignore it, just like most rapes, which get no political analysis.

Next time a girl or woman gets raped, why don’t women take to the streets and smash any business that caters to men? Oh, never mind, men would strike back harder, just like British authorities are upping the sentences for the rioters.

Most conservatives consider those who stole and/or destroyed property as criminals. In response, Naomi Klein writes about the riots as political. When people in politics and business loot their own countries and others, Klein says, you can expect those hit hardest to hit back. She calls this physics, but it appears to be a physics of men, since the highest authorities are predominantly men. How do we change society so that men aren’t hurting us from above and below?

. . . Unlike gender, there has been much discussion of race and ethnicity in regard to the riots. The Guardian reported that people of all races and ethnicities participated, while some white conservatives are blaming blacks and/or Muslims. There needs to be an examination of culture as it intersects with gender. For example, will street crime lead to greater restrictions for some women?

Why is it so easy to see class, race and ethnicity but not gender?

— Suzie, Riots and Gender, at Echidne of the Snakes

Monday Lazy Linking

    <ul>
<li><p><a href="http://www.theagitator.com/2010/10/16/another-isolated-incident-34/">Another Isolated Incident. Radley Balko, <cite>Gangsters in Blue</cite> (2010-10-16)</a>. <q>Montgomery, Alabama: “They could have at least apologized,” says LaKisha Dixon. She just wants to hear Montgomery police officers say they’re sorry. Last month, officers entered her home without even knocking on the door. Dixon and two children were inside. “It was three tall men with masks on and big...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Monday 2010-10-18.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://alliance.rationalreview.com/2010/10/on-the-ground-floor/">On the Ground Floor… James Tuttle, <cite>On ALLiance</cite> (2010-10-17)</a>. <q>Dear Friends, Fellow Workers and ALLies, A grand opportunity present’s itself.  We have the ability to aid a rising Anarcho-Star.  Anna O. Morgenstern of C4SS.org and Tranarchism blog spot (and soon ALLiance Journal) fame is pursuing two literary projects, one fictional and the other non-fictional.  At this time, and until...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Monday 2010-10-18.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://c4sif.org/2010/10/the-real-ip-pirates/">The Real IP Pirates. Stephan Kinsella, <cite>Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom</cite> (2010-10-16)</a>. <q>It’s bad enough that IP advocates dishonestly use the word “theft” to describe use of your own property in contravention of a monopoly issued by the state. (After all, as Nina Paley reminds us, copying is not theft; when you use information to guide your action or configure your own...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Monday 2010-10-18.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SociologicalImagesSeeingIsBelieving/~3/-UgX0AJLdH8/">“Princess Boy”: Addressing Children’s Gender Non-Conformity. <cite>Sociological Images</cite> (2010-10-18)</a>. The important thing about this is a pair of fundamentally decent parents and a group of adults realizing that the only "issue" here is an issue with their own anxieties, which they are perfectly capable of overcoming. And thank goodness for that. Because of course there is no problem with Dyson; other than being weirded out by being put in front of a crowd of strangers for a teevee show, he is obviously happy as a clam. Not with being "non-conformant" (who the hell are these Genital Correctness busybodies that we're supposed to "

“conform” to? and why should we care what those assholes think?) but rather with just being his own self. The people who deserve a label are the power-freaking Genital Correctness Busybody Brigade, whose obsession with conformity and anxieties about sex-class drive them to treat little kids like crap for wanting to wear pretty things, or for playing games that they enjoy. Thank goodness they are absent from this conversation; it makes me feel that much better about the world. (Linked Monday 2010-10-18.)

The Genital Correctness Medical Mutilation Brigade

    <p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/mQEB8S9JM_w/what_is_the_right_size_for_a_c.php">What is the right size for a clitoris? <cite>Pharyngula</cite> (2010-06-30)</a>:</p><blockquote><q>I don't know. They seem to come in a range of sizes; when they're as large as a small male penis, I suppose it might be unexpected, perhaps a little confusing, perhaps a little ambiguous to people intolerant of the idea that the human form is found in intermediate shapes....</q></blockquote>

Dr. Dix Poppas has attracted special notoriety for his sexually abusive experiments on the girls that he sexually mutilates. Of course, the more basic issue here is the non-consensual surgical sexual mutilation forced on girls by doctors and anxious parents, in the name of patriarchal Genital Correctness exercised at the point of a scalpel. Which is alarmingly common, and a far wider problem than the special case of Dr. Dix Poppas. There’s every reason to say something about the special awfulness of this child rapist in scrubs; but the notion that mutilating girls’ clitorises for seeming “too big” (for what purpose?) to adult observers could ever possibly be ethical medicine — rather than what it is, pointless medical torture in the service of carving patriarchy into a girl’s skin and flesh.

Monday Lazy Linking

    <ul>
<li><a href="http://eyeofthestorm.blogs.com/eye_of_the_storm/2009/10/one-correlate-of-the-idea-that-time-is-progressive-and-that-we-are-it-which-should-give-progressives-pause-is-the-way-the-ide.html">one correlate of the idea that time is progressive and that we. Captain Capitulation, <cite>eye of the storm</cite> (2009-10-04)</a>. <q>one correlate of the idea that time is progressive and that we are it which should give progressives pause is the way the idea has articulated cultures. so, for example, hegel held that africa had no history, was outside of history. in anthropology into the midlate twentieth century, you got...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2009-10-17.)</em></li>
<li><a href="http://eyeofthestorm.blogs.com/eye_of_the_storm/2009/10/its-amazing-that-when-people-discuss-genocide-as-in-daniel-goldhagens-new-book-at-least-as-its-represented-in-the-review-i.html">it's amazing that when people discuss genocide, as in daniel. Captain Capitulation, <cite>eye of the storm</cite> (2009-10-17)</a>. <q>it's amazing that when people discuss genocide, as in daniel goldhagen's new book (at least as it's represented in the review; i intend to read it), or in the alternative views mentioned in the review ('“Mobilizing the Will to Intervene,” a study by leading Canadian and American figures, identifies “poverty...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2009-10-17.)</em></li>
<li><a href="http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2009/10/economies_of_sc.html">Economies of Scale in Compliance, by David Henderson. <cite>EconLog</cite> (2009-10-11)</a>. <q>This morning, after a highly-productive Liberty Fund seminar in Santa Fe, I went over to Pasquale's for breakfast. I sat with a woman who runs a Mexican restaurant in a small town in Colorado. We talked about various things, including her criticism of &quot;factory farms&quot; that, in her view and...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2009-10-17.)</em></li>
<li><a href="http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2009/10/13/the-pill-makes-you-attracted-to-pansies/">The Pill makes you attracted to pansies. Jill, <cite>Feministe</cite> (2009-10-13)</a>. <q>Or so says perpetually off-kilter Jill Stanek — except she uses the term “quiche-eaters.” Basically, a study says that women who use birth control tend to be attracted to men with more boyish features with caring personalities, versus “rugged” men with controlling personalities. The study itself is questionable, and the...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2009-10-17.)</em></li>
<li><a href="http://knappster.blogspot.com/2009/09/rrndfnd-bleg.html">RRND/FND Bleg. Kn@ppster, <cite>KN@PPSTER</cite> (2009-09-16)</a>. <q>I don't usually talk much about my day job here at KN@PPSTER, and when we run a fundraiser over there I usually give it at most a mention here. This one's a bit different and I figure it's a &quot;hit hard, everywhere&quot; situation. So:Dear readers,Over the years, we've tried various...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2009-10-17.)</em></li>
<li><a href="http://reason.com/blog/2008/08/06/berlusconi-hides-nipple-of-tru">Berlusconi Hides Nipple of Truth. Kerry Howley, <cite>Kerry Howley: Reason Magazine articles and blog posts.</cite> (2008-08-06)</a>. <q>Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi likes the painting to the right, a Giambattista Tiepolo work called &quot;La Verità Svelata dal Tempo.&quot; (The Truth Unveiled by Time.) He likes it so much that he gives news conferences with a reproduction of the painting as backdrop. Truth, the young woman, is front...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Monday 2009-10-19.)</em></li>
<li><a href="http://www.wendymcelroy.com/news.php?item.2795.1">A bad attitude -- the new felony. wendy@nospam.com (Wendy McElroy), <cite>WendyMcElroy.com : News</cite> (2009-10-16)</a>. <q>A bad attitude -- the new felony</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Monday 2009-10-19.)</em></li>
<li><a href="http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=1575">the best version of this story i read ended with the moral &quot;some infinities are bigger than others&quot;.  HOW TRUE. <cite>Dinosaur Comics</cite> (2009-10-19)</a>. <q>archive - contact - sexy exciting merchandise - search - about– ← previousOctober 19th, 2009nextOctober 19th, 2009: The talk went well! Or at least, I hope it did. A CONFESSION: I queued up all these comics and posts way back when it was last Wednesday, because I was worried I'd...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Monday 2009-10-19.)</em></li>