We're not just talking human males here

Continuing the discussion from Check out Mrs. Brown's Boys:

I bring this up because Greer (who I admire, BTW) is far from the only commenter to trot this one out… and it makes me wonder.

Although ‘defective’ seems a bit strong (I’d go with ‘modified’), fair enough.

But so what? How damn far does sexual dimorphism go back in our ancestry? Anyone?

Joan Roughgarden
Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People
ISBN-13: 978-0520260122, ISBN-10: 0520260120
4.2 out of 5 stars (49)Reviews



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has revolutionized our understanding of sexuality.


“A fascinating discussion about diversity in gender and sexuality in [the]
living world.”
(Evelyne Bremond-Hoslet Mammalia 2011-01-01)

From the Inside Flap

" Evolution’s Rainbow is an expansively creative challenge to the modern
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Science: Gender Ideology in Molecular Biology


Looks interesting.

Is the answer to my question in it?


Or - use the google

1 Like

Whoops, dimorphism isn’t quite the word I mean; I could see that as soon as I saw ‘hominid’.

I mean reproducing via sex - what was our earliest ancestor to not be a hermaphrodite or whatever? I’m not sure what search terms to use… I figured maybe someone here could whip it out off the top of their head.

It’s, as far as I know, uncertain, but the current opinion is that it was 1.2 billion years ago, and that it was a single-celled organism. Possibly the first eukaryotic cell, in fact.

That said, a lot of organisms reproduce sexually but keep both sets of gametes per organism. What you are asking about is “dioecy” (there’s your google term) and it is hard to find a definite cleaving point (dozens of transition into dioecy are documented, if I remember right) the most likely answer to your question is that our earliest ancestor not to have a male and a female was some species of flatworm. Maybe.

And calling men or women defective is not just insulting, it’s biological nonsense. We’re a species exhibiting dioecy and oogametic sexual reproduction with minimal sexual dimorphism. Therefore men and women are, biologically, exactly what they ought to be. Neither defective in any sensible way. We do start as, roughly, female during development but saying men are defective women is exactly as reasonable as saying they are improved women, i.e. not even slightly.

If you aren’t thinking from a biological point of view but a social one… then I don’t know what to tell you. There’s not a whit of evidence that men and women aren’t equally capable at all tasks and all roles to within sampling noise, and aren’t equally prone to all the vices and virtues of human nature. And no reason not to ascribe to each equal dignity that aren’t odious.


Oh come on. They had to have called it that to troll Conservatives! :wink:


Cheers, that was my follow-up question :slightly_smiling_face:

And calling men or women defective is not just insulting, it’s biological nonsense.

Well yeah, Greer can be a bit of a troll, eg ‘all men are rapists’, but she’s usually making a pretty good point with it. This example is actually a backhanded compliment to all the dudes who don’t go around raping folks, and I suspect ‘defective’ was a rhetorical device to bolster her controversial assertion about trans folks (which I’m gonna distance myself from - I can see why she’s saying it, but that’s not a hill I wanna die on).

I can see it a thumbing of the nose to the semi-Biblical[1] notion that the woman is a secondary creation, sure. And I am not a fan of TERFs, personally. The way I see it, acceptance of various types of trans* folk has zero cost and makes at least some of them feel more welcome and therefore better. Why not do it, then?

[1] Well it depends on whether you listen to Genesis 1 or Genesis 2, doesn’t it? :slight_smile:


I think in Greer’s case, perhaps it’s pedantry. A good academic likes to be precise; I’m guessing that’s the basis.


The “scientific” basis for TERFs beliefs on gender are the discredited theories of John Money, which is a bit like having Andrew Wakefield’s work as the basis for your beliefs on autism.

TERFs can’t seem to be able to tell the difference between gender identity (innate) and gender role (learned).


I would’ve thought hormone treatment would be pretty central to the matter…

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