Which sex is the default?

This small topic has taken up a surprising amount of my mental energy over the past few months. It all started when I sat in on a history class called “Women in Sickness and in Health,” which focuses on gender perceptions throughout western history. The first day of class covered the topic of a “default sex.”

In humans, science suggests, it is default to be female. Add testosterone to a person and they begin to show male secondary sex characteristics (deeper voices, facial hair, extra muscles, etc.). Add a Y chromosome to an embryo and you get a male. Though the norm is two, females can have any number of X chromosomes (see “trisomy X”) without ever showing any sign of being male. But so long as someone has a Y chromosome, that person is transformed into something different. 

As a biology major, I was well familiar with these facts. But I wasn’t aware that some people interpreted these results as being sexist. The history class asked, “Can’t we also say that being male is a lack of having two X chromosomes? Or a lack of estrogen? Why are women the ones who are ‘missing’ something? Missing a penis, missing testosterone, missing a Y chromosome, always ‘missing,’ always ‘lesser.'” 

As I mention in the last section, this answer is complicated but mostly “no.” But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about “defaults.” Why does equating “female” with “default” mean that they are inferior? In fact, I’m used to the exact opposite: … More Which sex is the default?

Is sexism in high fantasy “just being realistic?”

My friends and I play Dungeons and Dragons, and we all normally play characters of our own gender. I barely remember what the situation was, but a situation once arose during a D&D session where my character wanted to do something, and another player said that the NPC wouldn’t allow it because I was a woman and the middle ages were sexist. 

I was completely taken aback. We weren’t including plague, infant mortality, or suicide in our campaign — in fact, there wasn’t even any gore, sex, or curse words unless the players specified it. The DM was PG at its finest. We were obviously including medieval elements that made things fun, like swords and tyrant kings, but omitting things that would make it less fun, like weight limits and bestiality. So why would sexism be built in to the world?  … More Is sexism in high fantasy “just being realistic?”

Should you solve relationship problems with gifts?

So who is right in this situation? Can we ever reach an agreement if everyone in a relationship is either on one side or the other, and therefore will always be biased?

No matter who is at fault, if a couple cannot talk out their problems like mature adults, no matter how small or how petty, one of them needs to leave. … More Should you solve relationship problems with gifts?

On Symbolism, Part 4: Digging Deeper

So from that quick class analysis, we learned that… Shakespeare was Christian. Seriously, we did not go any farther on this topic other than to say that the handkerchief symbolized the Garden of Eden. That’s it. Nothing more. No questioning the human subliminal or why it’s the “forbidden fruit” and not the “forbidden meat.” We identified the alleged symbol (since it’s Shakespeare, I give it 50/50 chance of being intentional), and then we moved on to look for the next. … More On Symbolism, Part 4: Digging Deeper

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (2008)

Originally posted 4/13/2016. Lead image from Amazon. 5 STARS The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins I never noticed before, but those little dark circles in the background of Hunger Games and Catching Fire are broken on Mockingjay. It’s still  RE-READ SEASON  (re-posted from back in January) and still going well! The Hunger Games series is also better than I remember! In fact, … More The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (2008)