Sunday, December 22, 2013


Indulge me.  I might not agree with the statements below tomorrow or next year.  But it seems important to think about them.

Two strands of chromosomes, one from “male,” meaning the gender-determining chromosome has an X gene and a Y gene.  It’s also possible but rare to have an XXY or an XYY.  The outcome will not be good, but not as bad as YY or YYY.  The conceptus cannot survive without at least one X.

Occasionally two sperm may get into one ovum.  The outcome, if there is a viable zygote, would be unpredictable.  An interventional chimera is produced when the nuclear chromosomes of one woman are introduced into the de-nucleated cell machinery of another woman.  (I don’t know what happens with two nuclei but it is probably not good.)  The purpose is to remove the nuclear chromosomes of the mitochondria, which are cells within the cells and occasionally faulty.  Mitos have no secondary chromosomal input from a male.  (It’s also possible for the conceptus to be conceived in a petri dish, then implanted and gestated in a womb that is not the “biological” mother.)

We know that infant cells can migrate into a woman’s body or that an incomplete conceptus or twin can be absorbed into the developing conceptus.  Normally they persist as just a cell mass, but sometimes begin to develop at adolescence, even in a male body.

The female must produce the egg and take to term the conceptus.  The male only has to inject the triggering sperm.  Whatever helps the female to maintain the pregnancy and then protect the infant will persist over time, simply because any without advantages have worse chances.  The male sperm is best served by being planted many times in many “gardens.”  But if a man chooses his receptor carefully, is protective and contributes to the healthy gestation and the subsequent infant’s successful growth, then his babies will survive.

Every baby is born into a unique culture, environment, expectations, and so on.  Certain abilities to learn from the situation are probably genetically sourced and will help babies to adapt to some families and cultures but not others.  If the match is happy, the baby will thrive.

Not every baby has the expected binary sexual organs.  A small percentage may have both, some might have neither, some might have a mix, a confusion.  Surgical and hormonal intervention is possible and some may choose to be a “woman with a penis” or a man with a vulva/vagina.  Fertility might or might not be related, depending on the status of the generating organs.  A penis is a delivery system, a uterus is a container.  The crucial creative organs are testes and ovaries and their internal support systems, whether organs or hormones.

If the family and/or culture’s expectations do not match the learning style or temperament or other “hard wiring” of the baby that might not have anything to do with sex, the baby’s sexual organs may not match the situation of the baby’s cultural expectations and the person may end up wanting to change, maybe by impersonation or nowadays with surgery.

Varying from the norm in any culture means “difference” but since humans wear clothes, it is possible to hide or contradict some differences, therefore awareness of them might be low.  In some cultures a variation like twins is considered dangerous and the twins are killed.  In others, twins are highly valued.  In some cultures (this is SO tricky) twins are so valued that their sacrifice is considered efficacious in propitiating the gods.

This applies to some imagined lines of development (the children of bad people carrying “bad seed” or the children of good people inheriting high expectations) which loads up the simple ovum/sperm seams of persons with lots of cultural embroidery. 

Because human babies are born unfinished, they must be sheltered in early childhood.  If the process of forming oneself has the added burden of adapting to sexual demands by adults, the child may struggle lifelong to overcome a felt incompleteness, which some describe as the shattering of the self.  After early childhood the burden of carrying a baby to term or competing with other males for access to a female is so heavy that humans develop in at least two more stages.  First they must unfold who they are and fit into their situation.  Some cultures require children to begin to work at this point, even something so arduous as underground mining.  The second stage, adolescence, is to become sexual in some way, which means managing appearance and drives. 

If adolescents are unsupported and unguided by the culture, the attrition will be high.  Mothers who are too young produce faulty babies even if they survive themselves.  Boys who are too young to compete are often victims of violence.  Sometimes they are unprotected even within the family and sometimes their drive to perform takes them into danger.  Neither is likely to have the stability to raise babies.  In cultures where youngsters reproduce, there is usually a supporting extended family.  If not, many just don’t survive.  This is not a matter of morality, but simple lack of what is needed.

The last (4th) stage of maturation is post-adolescent, around the twenties.  In this time the most recently evolved brain capacities “come online”  -- both in terms of knowledge and emotional stability.  At this point a human being is able to manage a vast tapestry of cultural possibilities as well as personal decisions and practices.  They might choose to deny parts of themselves, transform other parts, intensify and develop others, or simply jump cultures.  

At this point the binaries of male/female are only a beginning for the multitude of possibilities along several spectrums of measurement: desire, desirability, awareness of other practices, conformity to context, faithfulness, desire for children, displacement to other kinds of creativity and so on.  

Confusion about the reference of this word is rampant.  In Biblical terms it probably had more to do with onanism, since survival of the tribe depended on willingness to reproduce.  Contrast that with the situation of China which is equally draconian about over-reproduction since population density threatens them.  In modern USA we have far more children than there are people responsible enough to protect and rear them, so it makes sense to encourage adoption by gays and het contraception. 

The real threat to “morality” is not same-sex marriage but incomplete relationships that produce children but abandon them, whether or not the relationship had legal standing.  We are only beginning to explore what the legalities of biological parents might be, whether it is in terms of “shoots and leaves” or in terms of legal sperm donors who have created hundreds of biological descendants.  Nor do we know what to do about biological mothers who do not bond psychologically, or those on whom the effect of the pregnancy hormone surge derails them. These aberrations may prevent survival of offspring, but they also damage the larger society, which is what justifies intervention.

It appears that gay men are created in the womb in a number of mammal species (though no one has identified a gay "gene") and persist genetically because they contribute to the survival of the group rather than the individual.  How they might make their contribution as "uncles" probably depends more on the culture, but often is through artistic creativity or other humanities.  They might also be athletes, mechanics, farmers or cowboys.  There is no "build" or "voice" or "gestures" that identify gays.  

Lesbians seem to be more influenced by the culture, probably more in the nourishing, protective maternal style but maybe not.  Since actual fertilization is not necessarily voluntary, women have evolved to survive where they are, even if it is an imprisonment and against their personal nature.

In a capitalistic and status/class based society, the culture will impose, evoke, and reinforce even such things as sexual characteristics.  Hugh Hefner’s success was as much a product of selling high-end booze, expensive cars, music, fireplaces and smoking jackets as it was sexual liberty and access to bunnies.  The real porn was the advertising.  "Gay" is a market.  Homosexuality is a major Netflix category. “Special” places, clothing, tools, etc. are all pitched to gender differences, sexual markers, and invented categories.  The appeal of them might not correlate with children: skinny women with breast implants who use many chemical cosmetics and get pregnant late in life are not so likely to have the best outcomes.  But the commodification offered to the woman who can pay for ovum donors, in vitro fertilization, mitochondrial transplant, and surrogate gestation has got to be in the hundreds of thousands.

Even that is dwarfed by the kind of commodification called “criminalization.”  Managing incarcerated prisoners is worth billions.  All the adjunct functions like methadone clinics or anger management groups have a sexual valence to them, or why would the media be so obsessed with prison rape?  How else could things like the criminalizing of carrying condoms be justified when they are so clearly beneficial?  The criminalization of drugs is deeply entwined with the criminalization of sex.

These thoughts are in part triggered by reading "The Evolution of Human Sexuality" by Donald Symons. (1979)  It's packed with challenges to people who have dominated the field, maybe unjustifiably.  Anyway, time for a re-think.

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