Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Thought experiment number 2

There is one academic feminist who is both a fan of parthogenesis [‘virgin birth’ – reproduction without the use of men] and advocates the elimination of men (and most women) -- Mary Daly. Until a few years ago, Daly was a professor at Boston College. She was finally forced out there because she refused to allow men to participate in her classroom.
Daly has long advocated for research into parthenogenesis to dispense with men. Her book, Quintessence is half-science fiction novel, half bizarre manifesto in which she explicitly lays out her views. Daly herself is a character in the book who visits a utopian continent where -- thanks to the influence of Daly's books -- a lesbian elite reproduce solely through parthogenesis.
And there is no doubt that Daly considers this both desirable and possible.

For our second thought experiment, let us imagine what would happen if Mary Daly got her way. She will exterminate all the men (and most of the women too, it seems), and then artificially breed a population of identical lesbian clones. This is the stated intention of Daly, Solanas, and other right-wing radical feminists. Would such a society be viable?

Let us remind ourselves of the original evolutionary purpose of sex – it was to produce and maintain genetic diversity in a population. Genetic diversity is necessary to protect the population against parasites.

As Matt Ridley argues in ‘The Red Queen’
Let us concentrate on viruses, bacteria and fungi, the causes of most diseases. They specialise in breaking into cells…Parasites invent new keys, hosts change the locks…At any one time a sexual species will have many different locks; members of an asexual one will all have the same locks. So a parasite with the right key will quickly exterminate the asexual species, but not the sexual one. Hence, the well-known fact: by turning our fields over to increasingly inbred species of wheat and maize, we are inviting the very epidemics of disease that can only be fought by the pesticides we are forced to use in ever larger quantities. (pp71-72) The immune system would not work without sex. (p74) Sex is about disease. It is used to combat the threat from parasites. Organisms need sex to keep their genes one step ahead of their parasites. Men are not redundant after all: they are a woman’s insurance policy against her children being wiped out by influenza and smallpox…Women add sperm to their eggs because if they did not, the resulting babies would be identically vulnerable to the first parasite that picked their genetic locks. (p86)

Ridley goes on to point out that other organisms such as toadstools have not just two sexes, but many: but the fact is that we are human, and we have exactly two. Daly and the other feminist neo-nazis wish to eliminate one of them.

The fact is, a population consisting of identical lesbian clones would be wiped out by the first disease that came along.

However, if Daly or Solanas got their way and exterminated all the men and heterosexual women tomorrow, the lesbian population would start off with genetic diversity already in place, but only because of the men and women it had wiped out. Our lesbian-feminist utopia would be parasitic upon the genetic legacy of males and heterosexual women.

This genetic diversity would diminish with each generation. After the glorious revolution, some women would choose not to have children, and others would choose to have several, and every child would be a clone of its mother, so the result would be that the next generation would be less diverse than the previous one. This would be true in every generation. In other words, the genetic diversity produced by heterosexuals would gradually decrease over time once they were removed, leaving the population increasingly vulnerable to disease. The bottom line is that a single-sex population simply has no long-term future. Not only do fish need bicycles, but bicycles also need fish.

Can you imagine for a second the outrage if men in and outside of academia got together to celebrate the works of a misogynist who complained of female "contamination" and advocated "a drastic reduction of the population of females"?
And that in a nutshell is what is wrong with contemporary feminism -- that such nutcases are not only tolerated, but openly celebrated. And they still wonder why so few college-aged women want to self-identify themselves as "feminists."



UnicycleGuy said...

But there are parthenogenetic species which do not appear to be dying out.

At the nitty gritty end, sexual reproduction is not about genders, but about meiosis to create haploid cells, followed by combination of two such cells (usually from different individuals, but some plants self-pollinate) to create a zygote. This creates a nice randomized mix of alleles in the offspring, rather than clones.

Though this has evolved such that one male and one female are required (in most species) to combine gametes, it is not implausible to posit a scheme in which two female (or male) gametes could be combined.

Is this still parthenogenesis, or something else? Either way, a women-only population might not have the problem you indicate.

As you say, the real problem is that a man making such arguments for a men-only world would suffer endless opprobrium. And who are the women going to blame for their problems, real or imagined, when men are out of the picture? :-)

nevo said...

And that in a nutshell is what is wrong with contemporary feminism -- that such nutcases are not only tolerated, but openly celebrated. And they still wonder why so few college-aged women want to self-identify themselves as "feminists."

Reading your conclusion I'd like to suggest that femminist/ism has become a fashion accesories for a woman to wear in her hat. They are probably openly celebrated mostly by men because of some of their silly utterances.

Anonymous said...

Along a similar line as Nevo I can never understand why we don't get academic gay men writing about the destruction of females with such glee (or do we)? People like this women seem to openly support genocide and get away with it.

Heretic said...

Unicycleguy, it may be technically possible in theory to maintain genetic diversity by technological means in an asexual population, by combining two female gametes. However, it strikes me that the whole enterprise relies on - apart from genocide - exactly the kind of nasty male science and technology that Daly abhors. She is calling for research on biotechnology to pursue her Nazi ends, but the rest of the time never stops condeming science. The opportunism of it is remarkable. What a strange attitude - why does she have a problem with sex? People like her are corrupting a movement ostensibly set up to resolve social problems. Rather than establish an equitable settlement between the sexes on particular issues, which surely is what a gender-political movement should be doing, she merely wants to kill most of the human population. She, of course, will never have her way, but the fact that her position is regarded as politically and academically respectable is the main reason I am concerned about her.

UnicycleGuy said...

Please don't think I was defending Daly in the slightest way. I was being pedantic. Is science 'male', then? Amazing. I'd like to know how even straight female cloning is going to be accomplished in Daly's dystopia.

jw said...

heretic: You miss a point commonly missed ...

Females tend to cluster at the mean of a population. Males tend to have a higher standard deviation, thus more filling the population.

An example of this is seen in cognitive empathy, the ability to walk a mile in the other's shoes.

There are more females above the mean ... they are only just barely above the mean. This gives us the 6 in 7 psychopaths being male AND 4 in 7 empaths being male. We need these highly empathic people, they act as the brakes on society's alpha/dominants. There may well not be enough female empaths to fill a society's needs.

The thing is, almost all measurable qualities fall into this pattern of females clustered near the mean and males spreading out.

An all female society would be missing not only the nasty men at the bottom, but the crucial men at the top (without regard for what is being measured).

An all female society is be definition unstable. An all male society is too spread out. Neither is long term viable.

Heretic said...

JW - Interestng point, thank you. It relates to my Thought experiment number 1, that social stability and excellence might be missing from an all-female society, particularly one which was as anti-intellectual as the feminist movement. It also reminds me of Camille Paglia's statements that 'If civilization had been left in female hands we would still be living in grass huts', and 'There is no female Mozart because there is no female Jack the Ripper'. And, as unicycle guy points out, once the men are gone, who are they going to blame? I am not concerned about Daly because I fear for my safety or yours. Blackshirts are not going to kick my door in and drag me off to a gas chamber. That's not the issue. The fact that she is respected tells us something bad about the state of academia and feminism today. I am concerned for the present, not the future.

Anonymous said...

You based your thought experiment on a false representation of Mary Daly's work and words. You have wasted your time. You know nothing about what you've written.

Davout said...

To anonymous 7:32AM:

It is very tough to misrepresent Mary Daly. She is, flat out, a hater of men and about as polarized a feminist as you can find.
Oh, and by the way, Heretic knows a hell of a lot about what he has written. The mere fact that many, including myself, have read his article proves he has not 'wasted his time'.

MisAnDrope said...

Great to see someone else take a swipe at this wacko. Though thinking it thru to the genetic implications did NOT occur to me.

Best, and thanks for this blog.


Heretic said...

Dear anonymous, Perhaps you could enlighten me with your superior knowledge in that case. I notice that you offer nothing substantive, merely a vague personal attack in a general attempt to demoralise me. It will take more than that to put me off. How about a scholarly argument, or is that too much to ask?

DickDarstardly said...

Interesting post JW. Could you point me in the direction of some of the research that resulted in those stats please?