Friday, May 18, 2007

Do Men & Women Belong?

Yesterday, my theater class started working with a new set of plays. Fortunately, I was picked for better ones this time. Moreover, for a role that I actually love!

The lead character is gender-freak girl who is so into the trends of males/females: their differences, incentives, patterns, and psychological processing. Through an encounter with her university professor, the play explores some of the deepest and most essential gender differences.

After the first reading, my thoughts heated up, and started going in closed circles. For the rest of the day, I could not focus on anything outside the gender sphere. “If I do not find an artistic form to convey all gender point of views that I have, I will insert them into everything I write, and become the boring person who spend their life repeating the same talk!”

For the sake of future reference, here are the points I wish to ponder:

1- Religion: Adam was created first. Why not Adam and Eve at the same time? Was Adam an experiment? Is Eve an upgrade? If she were, had Adam and Eve’s life together proved them incompatible? Did religion come to assist male and female incompatibility, and to reinforce their living together? Would the day that religion not need to exist, the day when a whole gender becomes wiped out of existence, leaving a society that is fully female or fully male?

2- Relationship: Long-term intimate relationship between men and women (marriage, living together, etc,) is it natural? Or is it a struggle against both their natures? Have people’s attempt to overcome the abnormality of long-term relationships caused the invention of polygamy, cheating, extra-marital affairs, etc?

3- Lead: Leaders rule, so have centuries of man being first, and being the lead, the reason for biased religious interpretations, and over imposing male’s need and desire, and underestimating the female’s? Are caticatures, sitcoms, jokes, and judgmental tone used by a gender to describe the other merely a modern form of lead and counter-lead culture? Practices that neither balance out the situation nor neutralize it?

4- Sex: From early years in life, a male’s anatomy can experience pleasure. Upon puberty, a male is ready to experiment with his genitals. Such experimentation is unavoidable. Can we say that the same goes for females? Or, is the very fact that media, books, and cross-gender encounters, help bring on awareness, self discovery and experimentation, a proof that –again- the two genders are incompatible?

5- Citizenship: An American man and an American woman who have been married for quarter of a century. An American man and a Saudi man who've never met. Which couple can relate to one another more? Both men? Or the man and the woman? Which is a person's primary citizenship: root of gender, or the surface they occupy on earth? Have transgenders realized that gender is a primary citizenship, and thus the letting go of it is an inner mean of immigrating?

6- Science: Homosexualities, scientific progressions, fertilizations in labs, medical cases of women conceiving without sperm (and the result necessary being female,) are they steering in the direction of a futuristic change in society structure? A future where man and woman do not live together. And where their struggles, and adjustments to co-exist are nonexistent?

The gender issue is as old as existence itself. The fact that men and women have reached the 21st century with the business of books, audios, and programs that educate and familiarize them with each other is still a hot business might simply be telling us that men and women were not meant to be...


Hans said...

Hello Aysha,
The gender issue is as old as existence itself.

I think it is like that: women have two X chromosomes, sometimes only one is acting, mostly they act both. That 'duo' factor is what makes women very complex, and almost incomprehensible for the male, who is a simple creature, has a simple nature. Men have only one X chromosome and a deteriorated X chromosome, actually named 'Y chromosome'. So man is missing something (if not, he would be a woman) but that makes him a rather 'defect' human being compared to the woman (evolutionary seen) or, if you wish so, he is 'created' with a defect. As man has a simple nature and woman has a complex nature, than, you can guess what that means in relations: collisions all the time. Man's satisfaction is simple (sports, fast cars, bikes, male friends for drinking beer, try to impress women in a 'Tarzanian' way, acting as an ape), while the ladies satisfaction is complex. Above that there are also cultural issues to deal with, but most cultural issues are set by men.
(Actually I am a man. My description is generalizing, as I don't fit in my own description for the stereotype man, I don't like sports or cars etc, but my wife thinks I act as an ape, especially when other women are around.) Well I think the base of the problem is in the chromosomes.

Aysha said...

That is quite an interesting point! It has lead me to wonder, which is better, simple or complex? And why has the simple set of a man lead to him managing the structure of societies, corporations, and setting laws for so long, while women only recently began the counter-lead act?...

Please keep the good stuff coming. I am curious to hear people's views on this from all different walks of life.

Hans said...

Dear Aysha, my native language is not English, as you probably will have noticed, but Dutch. I understand that yours is Arabic, but at least you are living and studying in an English speaking country, while I am not: I tried to find the meaning of 'counter-lead' at but I was unsuccessful. However, I can guess and will try to answer your question, but don't take my answer for being the only correct one, for granted, I am an amateur in the field, and it is probably of a 'black/white' nature: The XY chromosome makes men suitable for only 'simple' things, like hunting, as they did since times immemorial, while women raise the children, a complex matter. Men being the sustainer of the family were/are therefore very powerful. Their word became law: 'we go here / we go there, because there is the game' (meat/food). Another simple thing is war, fighting. 'You do what I say otherwise I will slay you.' So the (strongest) men became leader of their society. Negotiation was only to be done if the enemy was stronger and killing or submitting him was dangerous or impossible.
Leading companies is (or was at least until recently) a matter of dictating the weaker, namely the employees. In connection with that, setting laws, rules etc, was easy, because men had the power, and who has the power sets the law. As a woman you surely will have noticed that, although the majority of laws is, or tries, to be just to every one, women and men alike, women not always benefit from it as much as men do. So it is the simple structure (XY chromosome) that makes men suitable to lead (leader=dictate=dictator), while the complex XX chromosome always thinks of exceptions, other approaches etc, Which is better? You decide. Perhaps it is better to rule / lead a complex society with a set of simple rules/laws, that would mean: men in the lead. If women had had the lead of society since immemorial times we probably would have another sort of society, (we would only know that kind of society, and now discuss about how it would be if men were in the lead) We will never know how society will be if women are leading, unless you take over soon: with Hillary? ;-)

Ali Sanaei said...

nice blog, keep on the good work

Aysha said...

Honestly, through your post I am more intrigued that ever to read more scientific studies about gender.

As for the women leading, not that I'm a big fan of "winning a war" :P but I have long thought about that question: what would a world with only men look like? And what would that of only women look?

Will be working on that question thorough a crazy movie script ^_^

Aysha said...

Ali Sanaei,
Thank you so much!

Dewey said...

"Have people’s attempt to overcome the abnormality of long-term relationships caused the invention of polygamy, cheating, extra-marital affairs, etc?"

Maybe this is what you meant, but even if it's "natural" for human being to be monogamous, evolution doesn't happen as fast as it needs to sometimes, so we're in a situation now where we live MUCH longer than we used to. It's one thing to commit to a lifetime union with someone expected to die at 35, and another thing entirely to commit to a lifetime with someone expected to live til 80. Which is maybe where serial monogamy comes in?

None of this is anything I have a strong opinion about one way or another, just speculation.

Aysha said...

That is beautiful speculation indeed! I like how you worked with the idea of pologomy and monogomy.
A point to keep in mind, however, is that some religious texts mention prophets that -assumably- lived to be over hundred as if it were the norm during their time...

Anonymous said...

Hans, I'm afraid that you're rather misinformed about biology.
Before we look at the effects of the y chromosome on men's personality and characteristics, let's look at the autosomal chromosomes. The autosomal chromosomes are packaged into pairs of homologous chromosomes. Both members of a pair have the same set of genes, but may have different alleles. This allows your body to be "mutation-operable" - if one of your parents gives you a gene that codes for a defective version of a key protein (say, hemoglobin), then your body can use the gene given to you by your other parent to make enough good copies of that protein for you to survive. In essence, homology between chromosomes is nature's way of making you more resistant to the adverse effects of mutation.

The sex chromosomes are a bit different; at one point, they were homologous, but some time after the Y chromosome became the sex-determining chromosome, recombination between the two was disabled, and the non-necessary genes on the Y chromosome are being gradually weeded out. Since the X chromosome already carries a copy of the necessary set of genes, the Y chromosome is free to shrink - some mammals have tiny (4 or so gene) Y chromosomes. Only one gene is necessary to make a mammal male - SRY.
The only difference between men and women that can be attributed to layout of the X and Y chromosomes themselves (as opposed to the effects of masculinization by testosterone)is that men are more susceptible to mutations on the X chromosome because they don't have a back-up copy of the gene. In some ways, this makes men more frail and vulnerable to genetic disease - genes associated with sex-linked genetic disorders like hemophilia and color-blindness are inevitably carried on the X chromosome. Increased susceptibility to (some) mutations also increases the general variability of men, as compared to women. Larry Summers, the exiled president of Harvard, suggested that this may partly explain why there are more men at the highest levels of the sciences. This can also be used to explain why there are more men who are moderately retarded. While this is a bit heretical, it's not entirely implausible; it can be compared to the difference between rolling a die and rolling a die twice and averaging the sum. In any case, it's an empirical question with a ready-made natural experiment -- if XY women (people with androgen-insensitivity syndrome who are in all respects female but have a Y chromosome) show greater variability than XX women, then it's could be part of a plausible explanation - if not, the lack of women at the higher ends of science is probably due to other factors.

In any case, most of the cognitive differences between men and women are due to the effects of testosterone on the developing brain. I don't have time to enumerate them, but there are quite a few. While the "single-X =simple", "double-X= complex" theory is satisfyingly simple, it doesn't line up with the evidence that we have so far.

-- Cranky Biologist

Aysha said...

Biologists ARE great when they're cranky!
Thank you very much for your enlightening comment, and I'll give hans a nudge so he can come and join the discussion.
In regards to this "In any case, most of the cognitive differences between men and women are due to the effects of testosterone on the developing brain." I remember watching an Australian program that discussed how the level of testosterone can be detected form the baby's hands since they're in the womb, and it would tell how much of a "male" is a female when she is born. Meaning, her basic characteristics, skills, and patterns. That same program did an interesting tease on some old gender myths. One of them was the idea that males lose virginity earlier, and that they have more partners during their life span. It hosted questionairs with/out lying tests, and reached the conclusion that the competitve traits of the male hermone encourages them to show off their desires, sexualness, and expertee. That show off gives their value in the market a boost. On the other hand, the feminine marketing tools know that show-less-ness are the market boost for her, so she tends to lean on other ones such as virtue.