Open thread: an extremely important question

Submitted to Ask a Geek Feminist, I think this question deserves your silliest answers:

What are [Geek Feminism blog]’s thoughts on morphing males into females via using the XX chromosome and simulating as sperm, injecting it to eggs to create better humans (especially those that are into life extension-ism?)


Science, it is coming for your Y chromosones, folks.

Inside the Atomium 3
Image description: a tall, steep set of stairs painted red leads up a large closed metal tunnel illuminated in unnatural lighting colours. Image by O Palsson.

This is also an open thread, for unicorns, sparkles, better humans, discussion of older posts, and anything else that takes your fancy. Questions for ask a geek feminist are still open.

27 thoughts on “Open thread: an extremely important question

  1. jen

    Crap, he’s caught on to Feminism’s secret plan to eliminate all Y chromosomes everywhere. I guess now we’re going to have to call the whole thing off.

    Would someone contact the secret army of ova-fusing fem-robots and tell them ‘mission aborted’?


    1. Lene

      Call it off? No! Accelerate it! Activate the next stage of eliminating all chromosomes entirely!

  2. regis

    Speaking of sparkles… you know that sparkly glitter glue? is that what happens to “My Little Ponies” after they go to the glue factory?

    yeah, okay, i got nothin today.

  3. Kaonashi

    X and Y chromosomes are sooo 320000000 BCE. I want something new and exciting. How about a Z chromosome?

    1. Mary Post author

      There is a ZW sex-determination system. In that system though, it’s females which have the heterogeneous chromosomes (females are ZW, males are ZZ). This is how the komodo dragon manages its parthenogenesis, which appears to happen when females have no available mates: the female (ZW) produces male (ZZ) offspring parthenogenetically, which may allow a lone female to (re)populate an area that doesn’t contain mates for her.

      (Hope that isn’t too ‘splainy, just, I think it is cool.)

      1. Kaonashi

        That is indeed cool. I’ve never read about it and now I have to. Thanks for the info!

        Oh and since I don’t want komodo chromosomes I’ll go for some other letter. Just as long as they give me mutant super powers.

  4. Scribblemethis

    Morphing males into females? Well, if we’re talking simply about male anatomy of people who are able to consent… I’m sure millions of transwomen would be interested.

    XX Chromosome? Is this a mutation? Somehow, two X chromosomes fused together? Wouldn’t that result in 47,XXX or 48, XXXX conditions? Or is that a type of chromosome unrelated to the actual X chromosome?

    I also have to wonder, if something like that happened… and especially if it became universal in some way, wouldn’t that be a fairly serious problem for heterosexual and some bisexual women?

    Then I also have to wonder… how would that plan account for transmen?

    I think that, possibly, this is not the most well thought out of plans….

    1. Eivind

      No, these specific experiments are about producing offspring without males, by using, basically, only genetic material from two females. Since that includes only X chromosomes, it follows that this offspring will be all-female.

      The interesting thing is that such mice, appear to have better longevity than mice produced the uhm, -traditional- way.

      So in short: If we could get ~30% prolonged life, but at a cost of getting only daugthers – should we ?

  5. Meg

    “Will we become an Amazon world?” is sooo 1982. I’m more curious about the coming robot revolution. Would robots have gender-based fetishes, as is now considered normal? Will they program themselves sexual satisfaction pathways, and, if so, will they then reroute those circuits to always be on? Of course, most importantly, CAN A ROBOT LOVE!?!! And will they look like Haley Joel Osment?

    These are the questions that keep me up at night. My answer to the genes thing is that there is probably some not-currently-expressed hormonal balance that would be more conductive to long, satisfied, productive lives than any regularly expressed today (especially once we no longer need to rely on sex for reproduction). By the time we’re doing exciting things with genetic engineering, I don’t think “turning men into women” is going to be the goal. “Offering at least two or three other options” might be. “Swapping around at will,” would be my favorite option, but I’m betting immersive virtual reality is going to be much easier than gene therapy.

    Besides, patriarchy isn’t about sex, it’s about gender and power. No amount of genetic engineering is going to eliminate misogyny, homophobia or being an asshole.

    1. Katherine

      I respectfully disagree. If the feminist hive mind develops a powerful genetic weapon capable of targetting only misogynists, homophobes, and assholes (or more likely, a weapon that can be remotely targeted at any specific person or people), they’ll have to conform to feminist ideals!

      I am of course, joking :P

      1. Attie

        Yeah, somehow I don’t think misogyny, homophobia or assholism are genetic traits.

        Although I wonder what the evolutionary success rate of being an asshole is.

        1. Beth

          Luckily, evolution is not a fixed process and is partially the product of conscious choices. Whatever that success rate is, I’m doing my best to reduce it!

        2. Eivind

          I don’t know. But humanity, at this point, is near the end of that race anyway.

          Genetically, humanity is more-or-less the same we where 5 millenia ago. There’s been *huge* changes since then, the collection of information passed on from generation to generation, has increased exponentially.

          But an ever-increasing fraction of that, is not in the form of DNA. It’s on papyrus, pergament, paper, computer-file.

          Very likely, human society and technology a millenium from now will be very different from ours, perhaps even human DNA. But if so, the changes won’t be because of who got laid more often, it’ll be because we consciously made changes to ourselves, our technology and our culture.

          Our biggest thinkers and scientists and politicians, leave much more of a legacy than whomever has the largest numbers of surviving kids.

  6. Elizabeth G.

    Call me a traditionalist but I am not worried about the Eugenic Wars as much as the Zombie Apocalypse. I am so ready for the Zombie Apocalypse, and since I am working on my thesis I would be okay with it coming before I have to defend.

  7. Mary Post author

    A quick reminder to people (if your comment has appeared here, you aren’t one of them): our comments policy requires (among other things) that you use a real email address for your comments.

  8. AnneC

    Oh good grief. Back in the day I actually used to write stuff for the IEET (during a very naive period in my life when I thought being published on someone else’s website meant you were one step closer to being a Real Writer). I’d say this question indicates shark-jumpage, however, I think it more likely that the carnivorous fish-leapery has been going on the whole time. Only it’s no longer *stealth* fish-leapery.

    All that aside, the anxiousness of the question posed reminds me strongly of a few 1950s (or thereabouts) SF stories I’ve come across. All of which seem to center around an OMG NO MORE MANBABIES ARE BEING BORN!!! plot.

  9. jac

    In the linked article (which was doing the rounds of facebook this morning) by Dr. Kathryn Clancy, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois explains her studies, and those of others, regarding the assumption that Iron Deficiency Anemia in women is due to menstruation.

    The reality is… well, here is a quote that gets to the heart of the matter: “…the main culprit for iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) in men is upper-gastrointestinal bleeding, so when men present with IDA the first thing they do is an endoscopy. When women present with IDA they give her iron supplements and tell her to go home because it’s just her ladybusiness. Kepczyk et al (1999) decided to actually do endoscopies on women for whom a gynecological source was diagnosed by a specialist for their IDA. They found a whopping eighty-six percent of these women had a gastrointestinal disease that was likely causing their IDA. Therefore, menses likely had nothing to do with their IDA, and the assumption that menses made them pathological actually obstructed a correct diagnosis.

    The majority of the women in that study were bleeding internally, and no one had figured it out until then because they had periods.”

    I think this article is good link-spam fodder, yes?

  10. Carolyn

    Tonight I posted on my blog that I sometimes have doubts about whether I belong in computer science because I don’t spend all my spare time programming as guys stereotypically do. I described this problem as a gender issue and cited Unlocking the Clubhouse, but none of my commenters seem to agree that this has anything to do with gender.

    Was I wrong? I’m pretty sure that this is a problem that affects women in different ways than men and plays a role in keeping girls out of CS.

  11. Audrey

    Linkspam suggestion–I thought this article on Lara Logan being sexually assaulted while working in Egypt was interesting for the discussion of why no one has solid numbers on how often this happens to reporters:
    (I don’t recommend reading the comments, but click through to Judith Matloff’s article)

    It reminded me a little of recent discussions around the reporting of assaults at tech conferences.

  12. Ben

    This (light-hearted) news is so awesome. So I might actually achieve my dream of getting reborn as a priestess for Simulacrum and pilot Simoun? Sign me up! (I have to go write fan-fiction now…)

    I would speculate the self-destructive aspect of the sperm gene could be an ancient strategy to defend genetic diversity against fathers mating with multiple generations of daughters. I am not a biologist, but I’d expect that such gene expression could only have evolved with much shorter lived organisms. I wonder if anyone has compared male to female lifespans across multiple species to explore how widely shorter lifespans extends for males?

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