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Superior by Choice, Design and Default
|by Gaurang Bhatt, MD|
In the beginning there were no sexes and reproduction was by binary fission or 'Swayambhu'. Then some bacteria indulged in sex. A Good Samaritan bacterium (Pardukhbhanjan) on coming across a distressed bacterium with damaged DNA, injected a spare copy of intact DNA into the sick one via a temporarily erected passage, to restore and replenish the sick one's genes. That is how sex began before gender. As Lynn Margulis has proposed and is now generally accepted, once upon a time a bacterium swallowed a chloroplast and another a mitochondrium. Lo and behold, instead of digesting the swallowed creature, the two organisms decided to live symbiotically and maybe this was the first marriage without sex, but with no recourse to divorce.
Later in evolution some of these newly formed eukaryotes abandoned binary fission and chose to put out distinct haploid (half the chromosomes for the species) gametes, which merged to become a zygote, from which a new baby eukaryote developed. Now the problem of these next generation of newlyweds was what to do with the furniture and appliances that each owned before moving into one cell (apartment). They mutually agreed that two conflicting color and design schemes would create a mess. Thus they would equally share the liquid assets (bank balance of nuclear chromosomes), but only one set of chloroplasts or mitochondria would do the housekeeping. So by mutual agreement one cell's appliances and furniture were trashed. Initially it was unpredictable whose, but decision was by mutual agreement. Then a mutant gamete arose which said, 'When I wed, I'll bring a dowry'.
Biologically, females originated this bad custom for a good cause, to avoid conflict. Simultaneously, a mutant irresponsible gamete arose who said, 'Someday I will marry and move into her already furnished apartment and we will live together peacefully'. These opposite type gametes had mutually suitable and complementary lifestyles and prospered and proliferated faster than the ones bickering in conflict about whose furniture should be destroyed.
Within a short time the custom developed that the female gamete would have furniture and appliances and rule the household. The lazy (called the male sperm) gamete retained only its bank balance (nuclear chromosomes) and enough loose change (energy source) to cover the bus fare to the female's apartment (called the ovum). It was always your place for the male gamete and not your place or mine! This made the zygote (new baby) totally dependent on the energy and food source of the maternal gamete which became the larger ovum, in contrast to the small, shrunk but more numerous and agile sperms of whom only one hit the jackpot.
The generosity of the female gamete is the birth of gender and proof of greater nobility by choice. All of us male and female get half our genes from the father and half from our mother, but we get our mitochondria and mitochondrial genes entirely and solely from our mothers. These maternal organelles allow us to consume oxygen and generate energy. The 'Praana' that gives us our 'Jiva' is exclusively maternal. Cyanide and other similar rapidly fatal poisons, which stop this machinery act on the mitochondria.
Fertilization in those days was in water and babies were abandoned and survived on their own. This is true even today in most life forms from insects to amphibians. More complex multi-cellular animals like reptiles evolved along a path of greater investment in progeny. Since the ovum was the larger and thus the greater capital investment by the mother, the burden of baby care fell on the mother. The male with abundant sperm was rewarded more by philandering and mating promiscuously, while the female was rewarded more for being selective and choosing the one with the best genes from universally irresponsible males, thus ensuring survival and further reproduction by its progeny. In dinosaurs, birds and mammals co-operative efforts of both parents are required to raise a brood. New male lions on taking over a pride of lionesses routinely kill cubs to stop suckling, which makes the lionesses receptive, fertile and ready to bear the cubs of the dominant male. This is reflected in the increased incidence of child abuse by stepfathers and the Jewish custom of accepting as Jews only those whose mothers are Jewish, due to easily ascertainable maternity. This is also the reason why female chimpanzees mate indiscriminately with males of the troop, to prevent males from killing their babies.
In birds, the females provide necessary nutrients in the large eggs to sustain growth and development of the embryo at great personal cost. In mammals they bear the fetus for weeks to months and lactate to feed infants. This is why the words gene, genesis, generate derive from the Sanskrit 'Jan' to give birth. It is the basis of the adage 'Janani janmabhumischa swargaadapi gariyasi' – the mother and the motherland, are dearer than heaven (GARA-GURU - in Sanskrit mean heavy from which are derived gravity and gravid in English). Incidentally only America and Germany that I know of depict their nation as Uncle Sam and the Fatherland. Almost all other nations call it the motherland (Britannia, Bharat Mata, La Belle France). Both liberty and justice are depicted as females. Parthenogenesis or giving birth without contribution from a male is clearly prevalent in nature, from insects to lizards. The opposite is only imagined in myths.
There is an arrogant chauvinistic instance of giving birth by males in the colorful early Greek and Indian civilizations. In both, this supreme capability is reserved for Brahma the creator and Zeus the king of the gods. To both is born a female child conceived from the head and both are the goddesses of wisdom, Saraswati and Athena. Furthermore women are less aggressive, less inclined to crime and violence, more devoted to peace, social coherence and live longer. The axis and orientation of the earliest stage of all developing embryos are determined by the concentration gradients of maternal proteins like Bicoid in the maternal egg. There is clear experimental evidence that in rats, the paternal genes structure the development of the hypothalamus (controller of sexual behavior) and maternal genes modulate the development of the cortex and callosum (controllers of social behavior). Thus females are superior by evolutionary design.
Finally in mammals during the early weeks of embryonic development, a single gene activated in a male fetus alters the future developmental course of the Mullerian and Wolfian ducts, the precursors of female and male internal and external genitalia. A biologist named Jost operated on fetal male sheep in utero and removed the ridge of cells destined to secrete testosterone, the effector of this change, and observed that in the absence of the male hormone testosterone secretion at this critical time, the male fetus develops as a creature with female external genitalia. In the case of human beings with such errors of nature, there is no uterus, a blind vagina, intra-abdominal testes prone to cancer and rudimentary breasts bud at puberty. This though rare, is a tragic error of nature playing a cruel joke in humans.
It proves that even in default, the natural path of development is skewed towards a female. It is the preferred and superior one. I rest my case and leave it to you ladies and gentlemen of the jury to give me your verdict. I am sure that there can be no doubt as to the veracity of my premise. If you agree with my thesis, it behooves you to be kind, caring and forgiving to the inferior weaker sex.
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