Maureen Dowd, Seriously, New York Times, What the Fuck Did we Ever do to you to Deserve this Shit:
Why the Y?
I have a fantasy.
That one day a strapping young man will give me a lift on his time machine and I can finally go back in time and strangle whoever thought it would be a great idea to give Maureen fucking Dowd a regular column.
Now, I know there are people who less deserve a regular column expressing opinions in major metropolitan newspapers. Bobo Brooks, Douchehat, JoeDonBob Surber, Dr. Stangel-Krauthammer, George Fucking Will. But Maureen Dowd just seems the most galling.
And I think I know why. All of them, Maureen Dowd included, are pathetic nepotistic beneficiaries of “both sides are equal” delusions of “objectivity” that somehow means that right-wing ignoramuses be highlighted more than slightly liberal columnists who are at least aware of the world that exists.
But Maureen Dowd is an extra crotch grab to the insult, as the excuse for her nepotistic hire is that they wanted to deal with their “no girls” allowed mentality by hiring a “feminist” who could be counted on to relate nothing but sexist garbage and Mean Girl™ cliches.
Cause, you know, if you weren’t quite yet convinced that the New York Times was a sexist pile of trash, what with the way they are the most reliable marks for every “50s gender roles is totes nature” evo psych “paper” ever written, the snide dismissal every time they are required to write about a prominent woman, or the number of major columnists who are twue believers in various sexist conspiracy theories, then hiring an anti-feminist nitwit with massive daddy issues as their “feminist” columnist might, just might, be that last little clue.
Shorter (or the last port before Jungle):
- Even genetics is in on the conspiracy to make men more feminized and smaller so that the feminazi hordes can conquer and harvest their sperm energy and establish the Eternal Amazonian Empire and the death of all men!
Oh holy fuck, these bastards have finally discovered real biology. I think I might need to ready the suicide pills on this one.
Okey dokey, proceed.
EVEN sitting in an M.I.T. classroom made me feel smarter.
And that right there might be the best distillation of the main problem with modern mainstream newspapers and cable news shows. That they are completely packed with people who will turn a trick on a dime for a name with status.
Oh, are you a “Princeton scholar”? Then please sell your horseshit ideology about how the moon men stole all the ice cream from your fridge because some desperate host or columnist wants the reflected glory of your bought accomplishments.
And we see it most starkly here with Maureen Dowd feeling that just sitting in the seats of an MIT classroom for a work thing infects her with the gravitas and intelligence of the institution.
But I was still struggling with the difference between meiosis and parthenogenesis.
So, the sexists have finally discovered parthenogenesis, eh?
Okay, time for a biology lesson. There are basically two forms of reproduction (more or less) for lifeforms.
Sexual reproduction (or meiosis) is where half the genetic material from two genetic donors (i.e. the people having sexy times which in some creatures might be spraying a bunch of egg sacks bukkake-style) combines to form the amount needed for a new lifeform (in plants the half-material state can actually survive on its own for a bit and in some plants can even be the majority of the life cycle).
And asexual reproduction which is basically like cloning. One lifeform doubles its material and then splits into two nearly identical new lifeforms give or take some small differences due to fuckups or mutations during the copying. This happens all the time in complex sexually reproducing lifeforms (like slutty sexy people) in the form of fixing cuts or replacing shed skin (it’s mitosis for those who remember their high school biology). But for some lifeforms it is also the method by which they form whole new independent lifeforms. These lifeforms usually being single-celled organisms such as bacteria.
Which brings us to parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis is a very rare, very unique situation in which asexual reproduction occurs in a large, multi-cellular organism. So basically, parent lays egg with the full genetic suite of material and it grows into a new creature with 99.9% of the same stuff as their parent.
And one last history lesson before we go back to killing our brains. Back when this was first discovered, some feminist lesbian separatists (lesbian women who pretty much just had it with men and wanted to live only with other sexy women because amazonian societies can be a hot fantasy) embarrassed themselves by embracing this notion as a means of 100% removing the necessity of sperm for the creation of offspring and desperately hoping for a means of making it occur in humans. Some of the most embarrassing examples actually thought that there were magical rituals one could perform to induce this state.
As one would expect, the notion was abandoned even faster than the whole lesbian separatism thing it was connected to and it was allowed to return back to a curious biological reality not exploited by dim-witted ideologies… until now.
Dr. David Page, the zippy evolutionary biologist teaching a class Wednesday called “Are Males Really Necessary?,” had helpfully laid out some props to illustrate gene swapping — bananas, apples and heads of lettuce arranged on a table covered with a flowery white tablecloth.
Oh for the life of Bob, it’s David fucking Page. Oh, how to even begin explaining this embarrassment.
Okay, so there’s this guy named Dr. David Page. In some ways he is a stellar scientist with genuine accomplishments. He headed the laboratory which sequenced the Y chromosome, is one of the chief researchers on the genetics of the Y chromosome, and has been one of the chief scientists countering the bizarre male-panic dominant theories of the past that painted the Y-chromosome as being on limited time and soon to disappear in the face of “dominant Xs”.
And honestly, he’d probably have even more accomplishments and be much more heralded if he also wasn’t a sexist nutjob with a massive stick up his ass about the Y chromosome being as buff and masculine in comparison to the X chromosome as he wants men to be to women.
In addition to his genuine scholarship, he has also misused scientific data or pulled ascientific assertions from his biases and presented them as scientific fact including arguing that evolution has a purpose and its purpose is to take the Y chromosome, which is totally not a degraded version of the X chromosome, and make it a badass action movie hero that is free of all that “girly” crap that would have dragged it down.
As one would expect from that mountain of garbage, he has often been criticized and for a period of time actually served as the perfect example of the way sexism in biology scientists created sexism and ascientific conclusions in the biological theories themselves.
Which is frankly hard to disprove when he’s pulling this kind of shit:
Figures depicted X-transposed genes as pink, X-degenerate genes as yellow (representing an ancient mix of male and female – presex, neutral, or neither-nor), and Y genes as blue. X genes were characterized as “housekeeping” and “ubiquitous” while Y genes “acquire” and “maintain” male-specific functions and “experience” palindromic recombination.
So yeah, bad science in favor of sexist genetic determinism. And on top of those unforgivable crimes against the field of biology, he’s a bit of an intersex denier and his work has been cited in favor of hospital policies that “assign” (through genital-mutilating surgery) an intersex kid a gender based on the overall outward secondary sex characteristics (because his research purports to reveal how they are “actually” that sex). And the less said about his opinions on trans* people, the better, but let’s just say that his antics with the coloring of genes and Y=male determinism does not lend itself kindly to reality-based views on trans* experiences as it were.
So yeah, we’ve got parthenogenesis and a crazed “sperm is the sole essence of life” psychotic in the first couple of paragraphs. I don’t know about you, but I’m already shit-sprayingly terrified.
“Since only females can give birth, why is it of any advantage to the species to have a second sex?” he asked. “Why should nature bother with males?”
This existential terror has kept up sexists for millennia. Hundreds of generations of scared cismen, wondering just how important they are in the creation of new life when its mostly the women who are giving birth and growing it inside them for 9 months.
And there have been endless biological “theories” to help cismen cope with this terrifying reality that they might not be the center of the goddamn universe. The homunculus theory, which stated that a sperm formed itself into a tiny person and the womb was merely the vessel for this god seed to implant and grow. The current right-wing nonsense where “life”, weal twue life, begins when sperm meets egg. Freakouts about the revelation that mitochondria is inherited matrilineally, or that hormones are way more deterministic for outward second sex characteristics than ones chromosomes, or that the Y chromosome does not dwarf the X chromosome or carry more coding proteins than it, or that some “male-centric” proteins as it were are even coded in the X-chromosome. And of course, the current right-wing sexist freakout about how if women are allowed to have full and interesting lives without being owned by a collection of men and can even impregnate herself without ever letting a man enter into her, it will somehow mean the global extinction of men as the gynofascist hordes come to castrate them all in their sleep.
He told the packed classroom about the ingenious genetic feat of the Laredo striped whiptail lizards in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and Mexico.
“This species is a Girls Only club, and the girls reproduce by cloning themselves,” Dr. Page said.
Yeah, as noted before in the random biology lesson tangent, this is the most famous rare and pretty cool species that reproduces through parthenogenesis or asexual reproduction in a multicellular creature. It’s a fascinating evolutionary oddity to be sure when it’s not being exploited by pig-ignorant fuckwads.
So… yeah, let’s break my heart and watch it get exploited by more pig-ignorant fuckwads.
“In the species with males, life is pretty routine. The females produce eggs, the males produce sperm, fertilization occurs and the male-inclusive life cycle is completed. In species without males, life has a different texture. The females produce eggs, but the eggs do not need sperm. That’s parthenogenesis, which is a big word that means we understand absolutely nothing about how this works.”
Thank you for the heteronormative ascientific anthropomorphizing of science, may I have another?!?
Fuck me to death with a spiked dildo, does this shit just hurt. Ugh, no, “sexual reproduction” is not “routine” and “normal”. It just happens to be the dominant model by which multicellular organisms reproduce. Largely because (one more biology lesson) sexual reproduction is a nice way of creating a shit-ton of genetic variation without having to create millions of copies of something. Basically, it counters the biggest weakness of multicellular creatures (that it takes them a much longer time to become “full-grown” and “able to reproduce” than unicellular creatures) with a decent compensation (if the big disease comes through, you’re more likely to have more of your population resistant or immune to it than the mostly clone population of unicellular organisms).
It’s not magical, being a mommy and a daddy who produce sperm and egg, powers, it’s just reality and let’s be frankly honest, if we’re talking about which one is more normal by “number of organisms that use it to reproduce” then asexual reproduction is WAY WAY WAY more normal by so many orders of magnitude that it’ll make your eyes hurt.
Oh, also, Fuckwad McDipshit? We don’t “understand absolutely nothing about how parthenogenesis works”? It’s actually pretty fucking simple. Most egg-having species form an egg with half the genetic material, it gets fertilized by semen which carries the other half and then through eventual implantation (for most mammals) or growth with warmth (for egg-laying species) there is a cycle of mitotic divisions that slowly begin crafting new organisms.
Parthenogenesis just means the egg has all the genetic information. Meiosis is skipped and the growth phases just involve that series of mitotic divisions that the “normal” sexually reproduced eggs undergo.
Fuck, the fact that this complete wanker teaches at MIT while I can’t even get a look-in at a community college just fills my soul with infinite sadness.
He said old-fashioned fertilization (meiosis) beats cloning (parthenogenesis) because, as genes mutate,
They have a greater biological diversity.
Yeah, that’s the big advantage. Being more diverse and being filled with more “mutations” and freaks in order to protect the species from getting stuck in in-bred dead-ends (like the Republican Party or European aristocracy) and having enough variation to survive most anything that the world might throw at them (like say human beings and their talent for destroying the planet).
It’s the biggest thing that makes sexually-reproducing species in any way advantageous and yet it’s so hard for old white, totally not sexist, racist, and homophobic men to embrace this reality and celebrate it rather than trying to find ways of rephrasing it as the victory of conformity and traditional family structures.
But remember, that’s not a sign of bigotry in science coloring the conclusions, no, no, it’s a sign of… uh… how are we going to spin this again?
He said old-fashioned fertilization (meiosis) beats cloning (parthenogenesis) because, as genes mutate, “males provide females with spare parts.”
And that’s why he is the master, ladies, gentlemen, non-binary individuals, and fluberts. Molto bella.
It’s not having a diversity of genetic variation, it’s those nice man genes fixing up the dirty mess the lady genes left behind with their “building the pyramids with slaves so you didn’t have to hunt the mammoth and now give me a blowjob” can do spirit!
Truly there is nothing that can’t be reimagined as patriarchy if you just set your mind to it.
It had been eight years since I’d talked to Dr. Page, director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, about doomsday predictions that we were hurtling toward a planet without men in a mere 100,000 to 10 million years.
… I’m sorry, I seem to have missed my exit and ended up in the center of Crazytown during the annual Conspiracy Festival. So apologies if I seem a little gauche as I ask… What the fucking hell what?!?
I don’t even know where to begin but to note that somebody looked at this woman worrying about “doomsday predictions about a planet without men” and thought “you know what she needs? A platform to share these important insights with the entire fucking world.” Someone actually made that decision. I just… no, just no.
The Y chromosome was shedding genes and wilting into a mere remnant of its once mighty structure. Y declinists were arguing that, from sperm count to social status, men were vanishing, Snapchat-style.
The Y had shrunk to a fraction of the size of its partner, the X chromosome. (Obviously, Stephen Colbert told Dr. Page, it had just gotten out of the pool.)
Oh holy hell. Okay, time for backstory once again. So remember when I said that there was unfortunately an insane “men are literally disappearing from the Earth” biological theory about the Y chromosome that David Page in one of his few lucid moments actually managed to help knock out of its place embarrassing biologists?
Yeah, this is that.
And no, it wasn’t some anti-male feminist thing, just a bunch of scared old white men having a freakout about the Y chromosome not being as awesomely powerful as they would like and tying it to their existential panic over suffragettes and the dawning horror that women might be allowed to have full lives rather than happily serve as broodmares and house-slaves.
And since it’s here, I might as well through in my two cents.
It’s an asinine and insultingly moronic “theory” based on nothing more than fear. The actual reality is that mutation is and divergent genes that determine sperm or egg production of cells or tissues is a critical function of any sexually reproducing organisms. Which is why organisms that are most closely related to species that existed when this reproductive method was first mutated show hermaphroditic species (they got both egg-producing tissues and sperm-producing tissues) such as most flowering plants and a number of “basic” animals.
And is the case in a lot of evolution, diversity happens. And the Y-chromosome, much like mitochondrial DNA was allowed to and in fact was positively selected for specializing. Much like mtDNA, major coding proteins became more X-chromosome specific or rather were discovered to have always been X-chromosome specific, but there are still Y-linked genes.
And more importantly, there will probably always be Y-linked genes in most sexually reproducing mammalian species. In the same way that mitochondrial DNA will probably always exist. It’s just the way that evolution tends to go, what with it not being predetermined paths leading to specific outcomes, but rather just life and mutation and the teeming sea of variation and diversity.
Even if we manage to not snuff ourselves out in the next thousand years and survive to that mythical future time with cyberpunk dinosaurs and people surviving as living skin, then we’ll still probably have Y-chromosome linked genes.
So all this worry is just an excuse to have a freakout about (usually lesbian) women being able to survive and live lives without male meddling in the guise of a genuine scientific inquiry.
The Y-sky-is-falling predictions mirrored Hanna Rosin’s thesis in “The End of Men,”
Speaking of the devil…
showing that women are consolidating power — as graduates, breadwinners, single mothers, consumers.
OH NOES! Not women living their own lives without being the sex doll property of some man somewhere! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!
Indeed, former Clinton money guy Terry McAuliffe would not be the new governor of Virginia if his Republican opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, had not scared off single women by belonging to a state party crew that was chasing women around with wands, trying to do transvaginal probes.
I mean, why do we even let these vile she-creatures have the right to vote if they are going to be so flighty as to be scared off merely by a sexist candidate who promised they’d be raped if he won.
…And this is what the New York Times considers to be “feminist”, people. Yeah, let that explain all the national discourse around women’s rights right there.
Even back when I first talked to Dr. Page — known as Mr. Y — he cast himself as “the defender of the rotting Y chromosome.”
He painted a picture of the Y as “a slovenly beast,” sitting in his worn armchair, surrounded by boxes and pizza crusts.
“The Y wants to maintain himself but doesn’t know how,” he said. “He’s falling apart, like the guy who can’t manage to get a doctor’s appointment or clean up the house or apartment unless his wife or girlfriend does it.”
Have I mentioned that this guy is an embarrassment to Evolutionary Biology, yet? Cause I don’t think I could possibly say it enough times.
But yeah, total mystery how he became the poster-child for sexism in the sciences back in the 80s.
But, as it turned out, it was a mistake to underestimate a chromosome that had for centuries madly attacked, annexed, enslaved, pillaged, plundered, inseminated and thrust forward to create great art, architecture and literature.
…Lady, your therapist will have a field day with this sentence.
Driven no doubt by lust and ego, the Y heroically revived.
“The Y chromosome did essentially fall asleep at the wheel about 200 to 300 million years ago, not long after we parted evolutionary company with birds, while we were still pretty close to our reptilian ancestors,” Dr. Page tells me now. “And then, at the last minute before the car veered off the cliff, the Y chromosome woke up and got with the program and said, ‘I don’t have a lot left, but what I have left I’m going to keep.’”
Hey, do you ever want to drive a biologist insane? Just start anthropomorphizing genes and start crafting fantasies about how they are self-aware of their “path” and make “conscious choices” to be something else.
Because hey, that’s how people work. So of course that’s how inanimate gunk, sequences of four semi-repeating chemicals work, right?
And the fact that this man is allowed to teach biology outside of a semi-circular trash bin thrown down an abandoned freeway underpass while spewing this fantastical nonsense (to a member of the press no less) just fills me with all-consuming rage. There are flames… Flames on the side of my face, breathing hot-
Dr. Page and Dr. Jennifer Hughes led a team that decoded the Y chromosome of rhesus monkeys, which share a common ancestor with humans, and discovered that the Y’s gene shedding leveled off about 20 to 30 million years ago. In the Y’s cliffhanger, the chromosome used its toolbox to repair some of its genes and became fastidious about not allowing the other genes to be damaged.
As The Times’s Nicholas Wade sanguinely noted, “There are grounds for hope that the Y chromosome has reached a plateau of miniaturized perfection and will shrivel no more.”
Because yeah, what the idiocy of the “oh noes, the man-chromosome is disappearing because of flappers having the right to vote” Disappearing Y theory needed was to be replaced by the Rugged Individualism Y theory.
Fuck, I know too many men have reflexive penis-terror reactions to anything even remotely related to men and the word “shrinking” or “smaller” but we could at least pretend we actually care about the genuine science on the subject.
Cause, see, the Y just is. It’s smaller than the X. It’s got less coding proteins. And frankly, most of what it does can be easily replicated by pumping some androgens at the right time in fetal development and pubescent growth. That’s genetic efficiency.
And I know that goes against all the mythologies about men being naturally endowed by science and God to rule over the inferior creatures of the Earth and you were hoping to find the magic bullet that will finally show all those uppity bitches that they should be naked in your kitchen giving you a blowjob as they make you a sandwich that would make the angels weep… But you just need to let it the fuck go.
We are what we are. Our chromosomes are not our destiny. Our gender assignments at birth are not our destiny. Not even our genuine genders are our destiny. Nor is our genes or our circumstances.
If we allow our beautiful diversity to be, we can be happier as what we are. A species remarkably adaptive and impressively ingenious. Able to fix even our own colossal fuckups-
And I just lost all you conservative change-fearing bastards right there, didn’t I?
Motherfucking “personal responsibility” fearing bastiches. Every last one of you.
While the Y was shrinking, the “buxom” X, as Wade dubbed it — formerly considered “a staid, pristine relic,” as Dr. Page says — was growing larger and stronger, acquiring new bunches of genes, some of which play roles in producing sperm.
YOU GET IT YET? IT’S A METAPHOR FOR FEMINISM IN THE EYES OF SEXISTS? I’M SORRY FOR YELLING, BUT I’M NOT SURE YOU GET THE SUBTLE ARGUMENT WE ARE EXPLOITING THIS PSUEDO-SCIENCE TO MAKE!
But just when the Y thought it was safe to go back in the water, a new American study in the journal Science shows that mice, with only two Y chromosome-derived genes, can produce cells capable of joining with an egg to make a new mouse.
“Scientists have practically obliterated the ultimate symbol of maleness in DNA, the Y chromosome,” the BBC reported, “and believe they may be able to do away with it completely.”
You know, minor aside, but nobody seems to hate men more than anti-feminists.
I mean, they are so terrified that even minor female empowerment will be so revolutionary and wonderful that there will be literally no use for men once women are no longer held down by their throats on the bathroom tile.
That the ability of some women to live lives wholly separate from the actions of a man. That a woman may be created by two loving women doing IVF, grow up and then love a woman herself without having been “taught her place” by a man will somehow make men obsolete, will somehow mean that no woman anywhere will ever want to be with them or care about them ever again.
That the only way they can have friends is to have slaves.
If it was uttered by a feminist, it would clearly be recognized as the bitterest of hatred for men, but somehow these waves of gynophobic bastards convince themselves that this is somehow just how the world works and there are endless conspiracies to destroy them utterly.
I suppose it makes it easier to justify the hatred, the all-encompassing need to destroy and vilify all women everywhere, if one is fighting for one’s very survival against all odds.
But here in the real world, despite the dressings you put upon it, despite the allies you manage to dupe, despite the prominent newspapers willing to fluff your nonsense, it just makes you a sad pathetic loser freaking out that a wonderfully diverse species like ours won’t make ourselves boring and small so you can continue feeling like a king.
Which brings us to a recent Sarah Silverman tweet: “Dear Men, Just b/c we don’t need you anymore doesn’t mean we don’t WANT you! Love forever, Women.”
There are genuine egalitarian relationships. There are waves upon waves of heterosexual and bisexual women and men out there. And you will have the same access to love and sex. Companionship and friendship. Support and compassion.
Women working out of the home, holding careers, having full realized lives of their own and the tools to pursue it without fear. Women having the ability to control when they breed or who they bond with or when they want to have sex. Women living lives where they are lesbians or in a relationship with a woman or just dating another man and not you or not dating anyone does not eliminate your ability to find someone or have support. People you assumed were women because of their chromosomes or their secondary sex characteristics turning out to be men or genderqueer or something else entirely does not limit your ability to live in this world.
This infinite diversity of human experience?
DOES NOT LIMIT YOU IN ANY WAY.
And you can choose to stop being on the wrong side of history. Stop making life worse for those not exactly like you. Stop infecting scientific theories with your untreated neuroses. Stop trying to force this wonderful biodiversity into a model that never worked.
And you can enjoy this life and what it has to offer.
Or you can continue to be scared and alone, shivering at imagined demons of male-elimination and gynofascists and biological conspiracies.
With only Maureen Fucking Dowd and her daddy issues for company…
‘Shorter’ concept created by Daniel Davies and perfected by Elton Beard. You know what happens to a sexually reproducing species when you try and artificially reduce its biodiversity based on models of what’s “better”? It’s all the bad and the European royal families are just the beginning of what can happen. We are aware of all Internet traditions.™