‘y’, oh! ‘y’ (the end is nigh…)

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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
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3 responses »

  1. Pingback: More ‘X’ & ‘y’ – it’s really simple… | musicbugsandgender

  2. Hey I know this blog post was written a year ago…however I just came upon your blog from gender trender.
    The statement that women have no father is false:
    – a father becomes a father by passing to his offspring half his genotype, NOT half his phenotype. The father may be a dark haired, curly male (phenotype), but still passes along half his genotype to his blond, straight haired daughter.
    – only one of 23 chromosomes in a sperm or egg is sexed (two out of 46 in a cell), the others are not, so a daughter may still share part of the phenotype of the father through the other 22 chromosomes.

    By saying a “father becomes a father” I mean in terms of reproductive biology, not in terms of emotional attachment or as a social signifier as intended when speaking of families, be them created through pregnancy or adoption.

    Now for the other points in your post, at the cost of sounding misandric, I have to agree: male is a deviation from the female norm genetically speaking, and women (human females) are way more self sufficient than men (human males), biologically speaking (not to mention the y deviation comes with a lot of potential health issues). However we are still a sexed species that needs both women and men to exist.

    Indeed this observation on the fact that the human sexes are, alas, not really born equal, does in my mind motivate the need of some men in the past ten thousand years (out of 200’000 of homo sapiens sapiens existence) to subjugate women and live in the religious-based fantasy that the universe is male (god – universe creator is male) and that men are in the image of god while women are a deviation made to serve men. The reality that women (the genetic norm) are creators (literally able to create new life from a ‘recipe’: genes), and men are not (men are the consequence of an evolutionary necessity of scrambling said recipe and widen the gene pool, for better odds at survival) is too threatening to the male human.
    I still think we can live in a society free of sexist roles without men going bonkers, especially as our self worth is less and less tied to reproduction and increasingly dictated by other, mind-based creations that differentiate us from other species. In other words I hope the question: “can I be a female too?” will be replaced in men’s minds with: “can I unlock the secrets of nature and eliminate all the limits of the human condition in the universe?”. Of course I want women to ask themselves the second question as well.

    • Hi Hermione, thanks for your comment. It looks like I’ve been caught out not doing my homework properly 😦 The comments I was referring to in the above post (females have no father…) were made on the CherryBlossomLife blog. It’s no longer active and the archives are private – you can appeal for access at http://cherryblossomlife.com/ ; the post in question is entitled ‘are men aware of their condition?’ if I remember rightly.

      I’m no more a biologist than I am a Radical Feminist; so any errors in understanding either theory are mine alone: I simply liked and felt inspired by the comments left on said blog. At risk of coming over apologetic and/or pretentious – the potential benefit to society of breaking, or at least, reimagining the father-child bond outweighs the importance of sticking to empirical fact. I defer to your apparently better comprehension of genetics – the homework I refer to, above – but what impresses me about GenderTrender and other adherents to RadFem (passion, compassion and consistency aside) is the imagination; the hope that things might be better. I truly believe yesterday’s ‘fact’ is tomorrow’s fiction: if one thing apparently separates us from other species it’s our breadth of behaviour; our historical capacity to deviate. I’m struck by your comment:

      ‘I still think we can live in a society free of sexist roles without men going bonkers, especially as our self worth is less and less tied to reproduction and increasingly dictated by other, mind-based creations that differentiate us from other species’

      This idea is appealing. Demonic Males http://www.amazon.co.uk/Demonic-Males-Origins-Human-Violence/dp/0747533016/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389136500&sr=8-1&keywords=demonic+males is my current reading. The authors search for the biological roots of male violence in our ape ancestors – a proper study mind; not some reactionary Mars and Venus bollocks – and I think the ‘better future’ lies in a synthesis of both a solid understanding of biology and harnessing our imagination. I’m ashamed to say I feel mostly pity towards many of the Trans* folk whose words I read via GT/FB/Tumblr etc: not so much because their pronouncements are blatantly sexist (and they seem to have little awareness of same) or because they fly in the face of scientific understanding but mostly their lack of imagination.

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