April 29th, 2020
Testosterone Rex is a book written by Cordelia Fine and the research she has completed on the topic of biological sex and its influence on human development. A lot of people think that biological sex is so important to our culture, community, religion, and other areas of human life, but Cordelia Fine challenges that with scientific research and facts. Cordelia Fine disputes these myths and rumors that have taken control of what we think we know thus far as a human race. Her research entails evolutionary science, psychology, neuroscience, endocrinology, and philosophy. As a woman, I am all for supporting other women and attaining equal rights, but I do not consider myself a full throttle feminist. I have not taken the time to consider these issues in depth, but Cordelia Fine goes above and beyond the baseline issues of equal pay or fair treatment in the workplace. Cordelia Fine discusses issues such as female vs. male promiscuity, biological sex in other species, male vs. female brain, and so much more.
One of the first issues that Cordelia Fine addressed in this book was the topic of female vs. male promiscuity and how biological sex does not determine mating strategies in Chapter 1. Cordelia Fine mentions a study that was done by British biologist Angus Bateman who was inspired by Darwin’s theory of sexual selection. Darwin’s theory research why males of different species attained this characteristic of wanting to show off and impress everyone. Darwin’s theory was built on a lot of watching of animals in their natural habitat including their mating habits. Darwin suggested in his theory that these strong feelings were often times presented in males during reproduction and attributed it to the size and mobility of sperm versus the egg. Bateman’s goal was to test Darwin’s theory with the use of fruit flies and show that if sexual selection has a greater impact on males then it will show a greater reproductive success in males than females. Bateman conducted six series of experiments where he put male and female fruit flies in a glass container for three to four days. At the end of the days, Bateman did his best to figure out how many offspring each male and female produced and by how many different mates. His findings showed that 21% of males failed to produce any offspring compared to 4% of females. Males did show greater variation in the estimated number of mates, but what was most surprising is when Bateman put the two findings together to understand for why males compete, and females choose. ‘” Bateman concluded that although male reproductive success increased with promiscuity, female reproductivity did not.”’ Bateman said this is because the male success in producing is limited by the number of females he can inseminate. Simply put, a female gains nothing by continuously pairing with more than one mate because the first one should give her plenty sperm than she may need. Rather than allowing men to spread their cheap sperm to every female possible, females should wait for the best sperm to come their way and create the best offspring that they can. In conclusion, males are not competitive or have stronger characteristics to fight for the female; they are horny bastards just trying to get laid but cannot because females are either selective or have already accepted some cheap sperm.
Which brings me to the next debate in Chapter 2 that Cordelia Fine elegantly disputes. Sperm is cheap and eggs are expensive, so the next time a boy makes you cry – remember how much you are worth. Literally. In the time it takes a woman to complete a menstrual cycle that releases one ovum, a man could ejaculate one hundred times. Cordelia Fine uses an example that asks you to take a woman who has sex on average once a week for thirty years and yields nine children. Cordelia Fine explains that this woman will have sex approximately 172 times before conceiving a child on her 173rd time. Those 172 times, there was a man involved having non-reproductive sex. In order for a man to achieve this status he must find a fertile woman, must negotiate a friends with benefit relationship with her, and then must have sex one hundred times within two to three days to reach such high status. For perspective, there is about a 3% chance for a healthy couple to become pregnant in a single random act of intercourse which means in that year of one hundred women, only three would become pregnant. Men have a higher chance of being killed by a meteorite than producing 100 children from 100 one-night stands. So why are men congratulated when they have a higher number of partners while women with a high number of partners are slut shamed? Men report a higher number of partners than women do, which is impossible because it takes one male and one female to complete an act of intercourse. A study was done with college students where an attractive young male and an attractive young female was placed on campus and approached students of the opposite sex by saying “I have seen you around campus and I find you very attractive.” The next prompt was one of three statements: 1) “Would you go out with me tonight?” 2) “Would you come over to my apartment tonight?” and 3) “Would you go to bed with me tonight?”. Men and women were equal in the agreement to go out for the night, but men had a higher acceptance rate of the apartment question and the going to bed question. As I said before, men are cheap and easy, while women are tasteful and expensive. You couldn't afford my eggs even if you tried.
My eggs are Dior, baby.
Chapter 4 brings a topic to light that includes the idea of sexual selection from chapter 1, and the thinking that biological sex determines sexual nature to disprove this idea of a female brain vs. a male brain. I was born with a hot pink brain to go along with my sparkly uterus, hby? It is hilarious to think of people walking around daily believing that they are male attribute their male thoughts and manners to their male brain and male psyche. I hate to break it to you, but it is not a thing. Yes, females have a uterus and males have a prostate, but gender does not determine one’s sexual nature. In fact, Cordelia Fine mentions that dung beetles and hedge sparrows have other radical factors that effect their mating and reproduction. She goes on to explain that males and females are expected to have these differences, but most are invisible and only exist because society says so. Cordelia Fine argues that sexual reproductive roles should be separate from our sexual behavioral roles. Why should the fact that I have a uterus explain who I am as a person or be paid less than a man? Why should the fact that you have a penis mean that you are competitive and hungry to mate? Sex categories are only in place because the social world put them there. I often wonder what the world would be like if we were not defined by a sex and were just beings.
I have a love/hate relationship with this book because as I stated earlier, I do not consider myself a feminist, but I do support women and believe we should be treated as equal as men. I was not exactly thrilled to read this book because I do not have a huge heart in politics or feminism. As a woman, I may be judged for that and I understand that I should have more opinion involved, but at this present time in my life I do not. When I, myself, am in a situation where I feel oppressed or targeted and I do not agree there is no doubt that I will stand up and voice my opinion or express how I feel. However, this book kind of changed my mindset. Cordelia tastefully disputes these arguments with research and factual information. She did so in a classy and untouchable way. She makes you reevaluate what is being said in the media and society. I think she did a wonderful job, but I do think she is repetitive, and I did lose some interest along the way. I think she could have said what she needed to in a lot less words, but I think she said so much to truly defend herself as a woman and the rest of the female population. She wanted to make sure that every side of the argument was shut down with no room for doubt or ifs, ands, and buts. I ended up enjoying this book much more than I thought and I applaud Cordelia Fine for what she has done with this book and what she has contributed to the feminism movement.
I loved that line you put in, "sperm is cheap and eggs are expensive, so the next time a boy makes you cry – remember how much you are worth". This book seemed like a fun and interesting read for the most part. And let me tell you, you are not alone in not having much interest in politics or feminism. I don't really either, so no judgement from me! I always thought I was alone in being pretty apolitical, so it was kind of nice to see someone else who really isn't too invested either.ReplyDelete