The sexist pseudoscience at the heart of biology | MarketingwithAnoy

Studied for years zoology made me feel like a sad maladaptation. Not because I loved spiders, enjoyed cutting up dead things I had found next to the road, or wanted to rummage around in animal feces for clues as to what their owner had eaten. No, the source of my unrest was my gender. Being a woman meant only one thing: I was a loser.

“The female is being exploited, and the basic evolutionary basis for the exploitation is the fact that eggs are larger than sperm,” my college teacher Richard Dawkins wrote in his bestselling evolutionary bible, The selfish gene.

According to zoological law, we egg hunters had been betrayed by our voluminous gametes. By investing our genetic heritage in a few nutritious eggs, rather than millions of mobile sperm, our ancestors had pulled the short straw in life’s watch lottery. Now we were doomed to play second fiddle to the sperm shooters for all eternity, a feminine footnote to the macho main event. I was taught that this seemingly trivial difference in our gametes laid a cast iron biological basis for sexual inequality. “It is possible to interpret all other differences between the sexes as stemming from this one fundamental difference,” Dawkins told us. “Female exploitation begins here.”

Handyr led an eerie life as a pushing agency. They fought against each other for leadership or possession of women. They shuffled around randomly, driven by a biological imperative to spread their seeds far and wide. And they were socially dominant; where the males led, the females followed meekly. A woman’s role was, of course, as a selfless mother; as such, the parenting effort was considered similar: We had no competitive advantage. Sex was a duty rather than a drive.

And as for evolution, it was men who drove the bus of change. We females could jump on a ride, thanks to shared DNA, as long as we promised to keep quiet. As an egg-laying student in evolution, I could not see my reflection in this 50s sitcom with sex roles. Was I some form of female aberration?

Fortunately, the answer is no.

In the natural world, the form and role of the woman vary greatly to include a fascinating spectrum of anatomies and behaviors. Yes, the happy mother is among them, but it is the jacana bird that leaves its eggs and leaves them to a harem of roosters to breed. The females may be faithful, but only 7 percent of the birds are sexually monogamous, leaving a lot of teasing females seeking sex with multiple partners. Not all animal societies are dominated by men in any way; alpha females have evolved across a variety of classes, and their authority ranges from benevolent (bonobos) to brutal (bees). Females can compete with each other just as viciously as males: Topi antelopes take part in fierce battles with huge horns to gain access to the best males, and meerkat matriarchs are the most murderous mammals on the planet, killing their competitors’ babies and suppressing theirs. reproduction. Then there are femme fatales: cannibalistic female spiders that eat their lovers like post- or even pre-coital snacks and “lesbian” lizards that have completely lost the need for males and reproduce solely by cloning.

A sexist mythology has been baked into biology, and it distorts the way we perceive females. But fortunately, in the last few decades, there has been a revolution in our understanding of what it means to be a woman.

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