A few days ago my world shifted a little on its axes: this is not hyperbole. The world is always going to look a little different since I read a post on a wp blog dissecting the story of the ‘y’ chromosome’s decline thru a radical feminist lens. It immediately struck a chord, for reasons I will attempt to divine in this post. It ruffled a few feathers in the MRA camp, too; and their response was typically ignorant, spiteful and misogynistic. Much to my annoyance – though perfectly understandably from the blogger’s point of view – the post was closed to public comments 😦
The post in question had been reblogged by another feminist blogger who helpfully pasted in a link to a Tumblr site where said MRAs were ‘discussing’ the implications of this aspect of human evolution from their oh-so-enlightened perspective. Since that link and the original post are no longer available, I’m forced to paraphrase, but the gist was ‘without men, who would empty the garbage, who is going to change a lightbulb, work factories etc etc’. And you know what, guys, if this is the extent of your insight then I’m embarassed for you: on your terms we’re so conceited we deserve to be extinct immediately.
A comment from one radfem that grabbed me was her realization that, ‘I have no father’ which for a woman is literally true. Genetically – and how much more basic can you get? – a woman inherits her ‘building blocks’ from her mother and from her father’s ‘female’ sperm which contain the genetic information (‘X’ chromosomes) he inherited from his female forbears. There is literally nothing of him in her: the ‘father’, then, is entirely a social construct, at least as far as females are concerned. This is – to me, at least – a radical idea. Also radical is the post’s ‘angle’ that males ‘understand their condition’ on some level and that such instinctive knowledge is a – largely subconscious – driver for our tyrannical behaviour and systems. This inevitably led to speculations/assertions that males are not only biologically weak but inherently destructive in their behaviour and by nature of their very existence. Evolution would seem to be trending towards the same conclusion. There are arguments for ‘helping nature on its way’ – it’s theoretically possible already to make babies from the genetic material of women only; to sex-select at the embryonic stage – females are being aborted in their millions already for ‘cultural’ reasons – and recent research has shown that kids of same sex mums are actually healthier and better-adjusted than their mum and dad counterparts – and for leaving well alone, on the basis of well-intentioned but misguided scientific interventions in the past. Alternatively, some feminists, such as Andrea Dworkin have advocated for sex-segregated communities*.
Either way, and contrary to what one might infer from the MRA response, the decline of the ‘y’ poses less a threat than an opportunity for the future of humanity. The implications for future generations of males appears bleak, on the surface anyway – though this scarcely excuses the apparent need on the part of men of today, to step up their hate-campaign againsts women of today and all time – but provides worthwhile insights into the false premise of patriarchy. I’m going to focus on a couple particular examples here, the first because it’s personal; the second because it’s current. I don’t claim any kind of expertise when it comes to radical feminism – very much a newbie, and plenty investigation to be done in that area on my part – and my thoughts about this are very much a ‘work-in-progress’, so if any readers feel that my inferences are wide of the mark or that I’m misrepresenting anyone, please do feed back if you want to. I’m listening…
Adoption: As an adoptee, my perspective on family is a little different to most peoples’. There’s no biological connection between me and my father or mother so the legitimacy of the child/parent bond has never depended upon biology for me. The implication that all girls are essentially ‘adopted’ by their fathers is a game-changer in a world where adopted kids (female and male) are presented as exceptional (and not in a good way). This got me thinking about need for biological parents and offspring (specifically mothers who give up kids for adoption, and adoptees themselves) to ‘know’ their place in a family tree, as it were. Why do many mothers find it so traumatic to surrender their children thus, whilst many men are able to ‘father’ and abandon sometimes many children indiscriminately and without compunction? Here are my thoughts. The simultaneous ubiqity and differentness of women – in terms of their universal connection thru the proliferation of the ‘X’ chromosome – coupled with the fact that all men are half-‘X’ hints at a deep-rooted imperative and capacity to ‘mother’. This is not to subscribe to the ‘biology-as-destiny’ line of reasoning ingrained in patriarchy, nor to suggest that ‘mothering’ implies relating to males in a way that infantalizes them, excuses bad behaviour and makes domestic tyrants of many a wife and mother. I’m inferring that women, whether or not they choose to have children, whether they give birth or adopt, are biologically-empowered to feel connected to both males and females in a way that we – the half-‘y’ brigade aren’t. Biologically, they’re enabled to choose parenthood in a way that we’re not: men may literally bombard women with our genetic material in hope of impregnating them, but ultimately it’s the woman’s metabolism and state of health that set the agenda; with a hefty dose of plain old-fashioned chance. In a fundamental way, men cannot be ‘pro-choice’, only pro women’s choice; and even our support in this department is contingent upon women accepting it; or would be, in a society that was less hierarchical and more democratic. Accepting as much is a big ask in a world where ‘control’ is a fundamental tenet of ‘manhood’; but accept we must, for the sake of peace, ours and in the world at large.
As an adoptee who, like most, has wrestled for years with conflicting emotions around my sense of ‘connectedness’ to both my adoptive and biological parents (I’m not in touch with the latter) the understanding that a desire for ‘family’ is rooted, at least in part, in patriarchal lies absorbed by osmosis from a young age, is a psychic weight off my shoulders. I’m not at fault and nor are my adoptive parents: the underlying problem is bigger than us. The patriarchal over-emphasis on blood-relation as a prerequisite for ‘familial’ love (and the customs, rituals and laws built around this premise) have real consequences for children, for women and for men: that pharma companies and healthcare providers are raking in millions a year from couples desperate to have ‘their own’ children whilst thousands of kids languish in a ‘care’ system that often neither meet their needs or protects them from abuse is criminal on two counts; to which we mght append a third kind of crime: the oftentimes isolation of the vulnerable in care institutions is a state of affairs that certain men are keen to maintain, to their sexual and material advantage. Women, seduced by patriarchal myth and who thus feel that they couldn’t love ‘someone else’s’ child are selling themselves short, if everyday evidence of women’s capacity for love is anything to go by. They, in accord with partners and social norms may well have come to regard adopted kids as second-best, and guess what, many kids grow up feeling the same way about themselves.
Transgenderism: a phenomenon that will inevitably be rendered obsolete along with males. Accepting that we men are, on some ill-understood, instinctual level, aware of our own impending extinction points the way to a theory of Transgenderism fundamentally different to the currently-fashionable notion of being ‘trapped in the wrong body’. Maybe it’s the inherent obsolescence of the biological male, rather than the learned confines of the masculine role that MtTs are symbolically rejecting?
A comment by (MtT) Soran on the GenderTrender blog post ‘Male to Eunuch, Asexuality and Gender Nullification’ came close to articulating this, when he** said:
‘…maybe the extreme breadth and fluidity of the human mind is simply rendering the human body obsolete, and we’re going crazy trying to escape it? All of this seems to boil down to the human body itself, which was ‘designed’ by blind processes that had no conscience … I just don’t understand why we’re assuming that ‘sanity’ means accepting an evolutionary accident…’
Soran‘s attempt to grapple with his conflict sidesteps addressing the issue of gender directly (he states earlier in his comment that ‘…gender is BS…’) and looks instead to biology for an explanation, admitting its falliblity and inherent randomness. It may be then, that those who identify as Trans*women are simply a little closer to a conscious awareness of the ‘y’ problem and utilise the best tools that society – i.e. patriarchy – can provide, inadequate as they are, to ‘escape’ their fate. The futility of gendered thinking is laid bare.
In a single sex world, is woman without man still ‘female’? No and yes. No, in the sense that the current, popular understanding of female – for which the definition in engineering terms ‘hollow space into which a corresponding male part might fit’ is a good analogy – will inevitably lose meaning. In a more fundamental sense, yes: the elimination of a patriarchically-defined standard of female will pave the way for a much fuller, more diverse, integral one. Feminists often talk of women being ‘less-than-human’ under patriarchy: evolution towards a single-sex – though by no-means asexual – model of humanity and human reproduction represents as much a fulfilment of human potential as female potential, in a world where the two become at last, synonymous and realise ‘the extreme breadth and fluidity of the human mind’ that Soran describes.
I’m only sad I won’t be around to see it happen…
* Sheri S. Tepper’s engaging and insightful novel, ‘The Gate To Women’s Country’
explores some of these ideas in a fictional context. I highly recommend it, and many of her other stories.
** His preferred pronoun