Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sperm Wars???

When I was a mere college student I wrote this little thing I like to refer to as my thesis. Probably not surprisingly to many of you, I wrote it about a topic which integrated my love of psychology, feminist studies, science in society, and etymology. That thesis was about the gendered representations of sperm in both the scientific and popular literature on sperm competition theory.

For those unfamiliar with this theory, the basic premise is that there needs to be an evolutionary reason for the amount of deformed sperm in the ejaculate of mammals. So this theory was derived all about how females are inherently and biologically driven to be promiscuous (a loaded word if I have ever heard one) and men have to fight for their god given biological right to spread their seed, not only in attempting to mate with females, but also on a micro level in female reproductive systems. Females are portrayed as devious, thwarting, and promiscuous. Males are just trying their hardest to spawn given these evil, devious females they have to deal with.

Why I bring this up is that 6 years after writing my thesis and even publishing an article about it, sperm competition is back and as gendered as ever in a new episode of RadioLab (which if you haven't ever heard of, you are totally missing out). So take a moment, and listen to their representations of sperm competition theory and tell me, why do old white male evolutionary biologists always have to portray the female species as either completely passive receptacles or devious, mischievous, and promiscuous???

Listen or Download the RadioLab Episode

Not terribly accurate representation of Sperm Competition at Wikipedia

Review of one of the popular books on Sperm Competition

5 comments:

KZ NE said...

as readers might know, hotpants and and hotstuff alternate posts. as the other poster of the two, i would like to add that I LOVE THIS POST. i can't add anything b/c i couldn't agree more. maybe later i will post about my pet peeves in this particular type of sexism. LOVE IT... and yes WTF!

Sun Cleaners Staff said...

as a member of the soon to be old white guy club, i would like to extend an invitation to have you come speak at our sperm competition colloquium in the coming weeks. we will have some sniffers of brandy and cigars.

Matt said...

I'm hooked! Thanks for this and other posts!

Neil said...

totally devious! i mean, you can tell just by this post!
signed,
another future-member of old white guy club

Sophia and Joe said...

Memory of K writing her thesis:

K, shouting from her bedroom to mine "hey dude - how do you spell GONADS?"

Nice blog! I appreciate the overabundance of emphatic punctuation in the titles of your posts!! You are very enthusiastic!!! Right?! :-P