Friday, October 06, 2006

Male Producing Gene

Females have two chromosomes called X chromosomes and males have an X and a Y chromosome. But what happens when a female is born with the XY chromosome?

Gender represents a person’s social identity as a male or a female. Most of us accept the fact that people are born either as male or female – that’s all there is to it. While sex and gender are simple matters for most people, it is a complex issue for some. In order to understand the problem, we have to distinguish among phenotypic sex (a person’s sex organs and secondary sexual characteristics), chromosomal sex (the number of X and Y chromosomes), and genetic sex (the presence of genes that determine sex).

A human embryo develops a set of generalized organs and tubes that will eventually turn into the sex organs. A gene, usually found on the Y chromosome, controls which set of organs, male or female develops. Between the fifth and seventh week of development, this gene, if present, produces a chemical that influences the undifferentiated gonad to become a testis. Once the testis begins to develop, it produces secretions that turn the other structures into the male sex organs. If this does not occur by the thirteenth week, the gonad begins to develop into an ovary, and under the influence of ovarian secretions, the undifferentiated organs develop into female structures.

Can an XY individual be a female? This can happen if the male producing gene is not operating (a mutation) or if the receptor sites on the undifferentiated organs do not respond to the presence of the hormone. In addition to this, other problems result in ambiguous phenotypic sex.

One area of human endeavor where this has become a major issue is athletic competition, especially the Olympics. Fearing that a phenotypic female who is a genetic or chromosomal male will have an unfair advantage, all phenotypic female athletes have been forced to undergo testing. Female athletes are put through this demeaning process in spite of the fact that several decades of testing have demonstrated that the few phenotypic females, who, for an example, carry an X and a Y chromosome, do not have any particular athletic advantage.

Women with this syndrome have breasts and vaginas and are socialized as females, but lack a uterus and ovaries and have a testis located within their bodies.

(Quoted from “Gender, Sex and Athletics”, Physical Anthropology-Sixth Edition by Philip L. Stein and Bruce M. Rowe)


Are The Japanese Smarter Than The Americans?

In October 1986, Yasuhiro Nakasone, Prime Minister of Japan, offered an explanation of why Japan competes so well against the United States: the Japanese people score higher on IQ tests than Americans.

Here are some reasons why –

1) Japanese children attend school for an average of 240 days a year; American children attend school for less than 180 days a year.

2) The quality of education is uniformly high in Japan. Most Japanese are of the same social class, and about 99 percent are of the same ethnic group.

3) Discipline and expectations of students in Japan are much higher than in the United States.

4) Japanese students are assigned heavier course loads and more homework than their American counterparts.

5) Economic success in Japan is absolutely dependent on academic achievement. Although academic achievement increases the chances of economic success in the United States, it is not absolutely essential.

It is therefore no wonder that mean IQ scores are higher in Japan than in the United States. The Japanese place a greater value on education. As a result, Japanese children take educational goals more seriously and spend more time in school and on homework than American children.

Even though the American IQ is not as high as that of the Japanese, Americans are responsible for innovating more of this century’s new technologies than any other nationality, and they have won more Nobel Prizes than the members of any other culture. IQ scores do not test such things as creativity.
American society emphasizes creativity.

(Quoted from “Are the Japanese, On The Average, Smarter Than Americans?”, Physical Anthropology-Sixth Edition by Philip L. Stein and Bruce M. Rowe)


Social Inequalities

English philosopher Herbert Spencer (1820-1930), who was greatly influenced by Charles Darwin’s ideas, coined the phrase, “survival of the fittest”.

Spencer and other proponents of social Darwinism viewed social life as a competitive struggle for power, wealth and general well being among individuals and nations. Using this concept, Europeans of the nineteenth century could argue that their dominant position in the world was the result of natural superiority that resulted from natural selection. The Asian, African, Polynesian and other peoples that Europeans ruled or subdued at the time were seen as belonging to earlier and more primitive stages of evolution. Likewise, the social inequalities among individuals within European society were thought to be variations on which natural selection acted. The prosperous were seen as being “fit”, while the poor and powerless was seen as “unfit” individuals that natural selection would select against.

Spencer and other social Darwinists, including the American sociologist William Graham Sumner (1840-1910), believed that government should do nothing to aid the poor or sick. Modern social Darwinists assert that programs such as food stamps, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, and free public health clinics interfere with the natural weeding out of unfit people and thereby weaken society. Or, said in reverse, a laissez-faire approach to social inequalities would lead to a natural cleansing of a population and hence would lead to a society and a world better adapted to environment pressures. In the United States and Europe, social Darwinism has been used to justify discriminatory actions against women, nonwhites and various ethnic groups. It must be noted, however, that Charles Darwin was not a social Darwinist; at least, he avoided any discussion of the social implications of his ideas.

Scientific studies on human populations have not supported the tenets of social Darwinism. It appears that it is discrimination and the ideas of superiority, as well as differential access to natural resources that produce most inequalities. The fact that some societies are more powerful than others and that some individuals within a society do not have access to necessities and luxuries is due to social history. When populations or classes of people within societies are freed from discriminatory practices, they can reach the same levels of wealth, power and education as those groups who traditionally define them as superiors.

(Quoted from “Social Darwinism”, Physical Anthropology – Sixth Edition by Philip L. Stein and Bruce M. Rowe)


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