What motivates you? Battle of the sexes?
Evolution or necessity? Scientists in Sweden and Australia are crediting predatory (rapist) male mosquito fish with spurring the females of the species to grow bigger brains. That’s right, folks! According to Raw Story:
Recently, a team of Swedish and Australian researchers led by Séverine Buechel from Stockholm University, noticed that predator-prey conflict is, in some ways, like sexual conflict. This is because it features two antagonistic partners constantly evolving to better outwit the other. The researchers wondered if, like predator-prey conflict, sexual conflict might also affect the evolution of brain size.
To test this idea, they carried out a laboratory evolution experiment using a fish called the eastern mosquitofish, a relative of the guppy originally found in the Southern US. Male mosquito fish are particularly unpleasant. Unlike many fish, these animals reproduce by fertilizing eggs inside the female’s body. But instead of wooing a female and trying to impress her with his prowess, the male mosquitofish simply sneaks up on her and tries to force her to mate.
The male fertilizes the female’s eggs using a tubular structure called a gonopodium, a modified anal fin that the male attempts to insert into the unwilling female. Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s basically rape. Unsurprisingly, this is not good for the females, who are continually being harassed and have little control over the parenthood of their own offspring.
Beuchel and her colleagues bred lines of fish where the males either had especially long gonopodia or especially short ones, as well as control lines where they didn’t select for gonopodia size. Those with longer gonopodia would have an advantage in their attempts at coercive mating and so experience greater levels of sexual conflict.
After nine generations of evolution in the laboratory, the researchers measured the sizes of the brains of the male and female fish from all their selection lines and from unselected control lines. They found that in the lines where males were selected to have longer gonopodia, the females had evolved larger brains that were around six per cent heavier than the brains of females from the other lines.
What seems to be happening is that, when sexual conflict is most intense, females who can use their brains to avoid coercive mating are actually the most successful at reproducing. This could be because these clever females are harassed less and can get on with things like feeding, or because they are better able to select the best quality males to father their offspring.
Perhaps this is the method behind the madness of importing ideologically opposed hordes into Europe and the United States? Will forced competition generate larger “female” brains? Hmmm.
Mansplaining: Virulent epidemic or sexist shutdown?
According to the New York Times:
A Swedish union has set up a hotline for workers to report instances of “mansplaining” as part of a weeklong effort to raise awareness of a certain kind of condescending elocution that men use to explain to women things they already understand.
Well, actually, it’s not all men who do it, of course, but a certain kind of man. You know him: He is probably getting ready to mansplain this article to you.
The hotline, which is temporary and open to men and women, was set up by Unionen, a trade union that represents about 600,000 private-sector employees in Sweden and describes itself as the largest white-collar union in the world.
“Our objective is to contribute to awareness and start a discussion which we hope will be the first step in changing the way we treat each other and talk about each other in the workplace,” Jennie Zetterström, a union spokeswoman, said in an email on Wednesday.
“It’s important to create awareness about how seemingly small things that we do or say add up to a larger issue.”
Interesting how this attempt to address a supposedly female-centric issue (as if the males of our species never suffer being patronized) takes the shape of marginalizing men. Of course, as the article states, not “all” men do this, only a “certain” kind of man.
So, watch out! And report for the sake of heightening awareness and to begin that all important discussion of how we treat each other!
And much like the article purports, it is critical to be conscientious about how small things that we do or say add up to larger issues. Like the tendency to make a mountain out of a mole hill, or to explain every circumstance as being gender based in order to gain the upper hand, or, just maybe, shut down the competition with a convenient beating stick.
Don’t believe me? Check out the video below. The individual (I won’t say “man”) who engages in the shared discussion comports himself very well and without delving into the sewer of manufactured gender bias.
Perhaps Senator Katy Gallagher, former minister of the ACT (Australian Capital Territory), will think next time before using the modern-day-equivalent of eyelash batting.
Not unless she wants to be thoroughly owned … again!
Who solves it better? Men vs. women?
Brush up your algebra skills and belly up to the bar, boys and girls.
According to PopSugar , ” The question originally went viral in Japan, after a study discovered that only 60 percent of 20-somethings could actually solve it. Are you already feeling frustrated and hopeless at trying to know what the answer is? Watch the video below, posted by YouTube user MindYourDecisions, a popular math puzzle channel. In it, Presh Talwalkar, the mastermind behind this question, will guide you to the right answer.”
But while the Japanese are in a muddle due to the seeming decline in arithmetic performance of their youth, the United States, at least in academic circles, is having to come to grips with the reality that despite the decades long push to force girls out of the supposedly societally imposed friendzone of mathematics, facts are still the facts.
Males do, overall, outperform their female counterparts in mathematics.
Statements such as, “One of the things that I really strongly believe in is that we need to have more girls interested in math, science, and engineering. We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent … not being encouraged the way they need to” (President Barack Obama, February 2013), need to go the way of all true sexism: straight to the garbage heap, never to be recycled again!
Forcing women, or anybody for that matter, into the math lab based on someone else’s belief, however strongly held, is just another way of ignoring the reality that women can (and are) choosing for themselves. And nature will often, despite our clambering attempts to master it, have its way.