1. Accept the fact that, with few exceptions, all humans are either XX (female) or XY (male).
It’s good that we recognize that not all humans are either XX or XY, but we shouldn’t forget that the exceptions are few. According to the World Health Organization, humans are born with 46 chromosomes in 23 pairs. The X and Y chromosomes determine a person’s sex. Most women are 46XX and most men are 46XY.
Research suggests, however, that in a few births per thousand some individuals will be born with a single-sex chromosome (45X or 45Y, sex monosomies) and some with three or more sex chromosomes (47XXX, 47XYY or 47XXY, etc., sex polysomies). In addition, some males are born 46XX due to the translocation of a tiny section of the sex-determining region of the Y chromosome. Similarly, some females are also born 46XY due to mutations in the Y chromosome.
In our desire to support people who may not feel they fit the binary of male or female, we shouldn’t forget the fact that male and female apply to the vast majority of living beings in the last billion years of evolutionary history.
Dr. Michael Gurian is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty-two books published in twenty-three languages. In his book, Saving Our Sons, A New Path for Raising Healthy and Resilient Boys he says, “Ensuring gender equality for girls and women does not require gender sameness. In the new millennium, neuroscience shows us that males and females are not the same, though their brains overlap a great deal across a wide gender spectrum. We can now build equality without the false premise of sameness, and we must do so in order to help all children.”
In an article in Psychology Today, “She, He, X, They: The Amazing Minds of Boys and Girls,” he says, “As people come to believe ‘female’ and ‘male’ don’t exist, medical science, educational programs, effective parenting, successful mental health counseling–all miss getting necessary support and knowledge, and the bodies, minds, and hearts of girls and boys are under-served and under-nurtured.”
2. Celebrate the reality that males and females differ significantly in every cell of our bodies.
I previously quoted David C. Page, M.D. that “There are 10 trillion cells in the human body and every one of them is sex-specific.” Dr. Page goes on to address the implications of this one fact.
“We’ve had a unisex vision of the human genome,” says Dr. Page. “Men and women are not equal in our genome and men and women are not equal in the face of disease. Already at my institute, we have discovered that XX cells and XY cells go about their business, of making proteins for instance, in slightly different ways.”
Dr. Page concludes, “We need to build a better tool kit for researchers that is XX and XY informed rather than our current gender-neutral stance. We need a tool kit that recognizes the fundamental difference on a cellular, organ, system, and person-level between XY and XX. I believe that if we do this, we will arrive at a fundamentally new paradigm for understanding and treating human disease.”
On her informative website, www.GenderMed.org, Marianne Legato, M.D. shares the current research about male/female differences in our hearts, lungs, immune systems, digestive systems, skeletal systems, how medications affect us, how long we live, and how our brains function.
3. Understand that male and female differences are evident in brain studies.
Among the differences described by Dr. Legato are the following:
- Men have larger brains; women have more brain cells.
- Men and women use different parts of their brains while thinking.
- There are significant differences in the brain activity of men and women.
Louanne Brizendine, M.D. is a neuropsychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, and founder of the Women’s and Teen Girl’s Mood and Hormone Clinic. In her authoritative books, The Female Brain and The Male Brain, she details differences in brain structure and function and how they affect behavior. A few of the differences she describes include the following:
- Medial Preoptic Area (MPOA): This is the area for sexual pursuit, found in the hypothalamus, and it is 2.5 times larger in the male.
- Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC): It weighs options and makes decisions. It’s the worry-wort center, and it’s larger in women than in men.
- Dorsal Premammillary Nucleus (DPN): The defend-your-turf area, it lives deep inside the hypothalamus and contains the circuitry for male’s instinctive one-upmanship, territorial defense, fear, and aggression. It’s larger in males than in females and contains special circuits to detect territorial challenges by other males, making men more sensitive to potential turf threats.
4. Recognize that male and female differences manifest in politics.
In his book Sex, Power, and Partisanship: How Evolutionary Science Makes Sense of Our Political Divide, Dr. Hector A. Garcia introduces the topic with these provocative words:
“A nation’s sinew begins to tear. Triumph in one group is met with fear and bewilderment in another. Old prejudices are reanimated and new ones are invented. The masses succumb to irrational forces, prodded to frenzy by politicians and the media. The nation is poised to devour itself.”
Dr. Garcia goes on to detail the ways in which evolutionary science can help us understand the political divide and how it can be healed. “The difficulties we face forming cohesive societies in the modern era reflect the psychological adaptations with a simple, ancient purpose—keeping our ancestors alive in a savagely dangerous environment.”
Republicans on the right tend to focus on one set of survival strategies while Democrats on the left focus on others. These different approaches tend to be influenced by gender. For instance, American political commentator Chris Mathews once described Republicans as the “Daddy Party” and Democrats at the “Mommy Party.”
Writes Mathews, “Republicans protect us with strong national defense; Democrats nourish us with Social Security and Medicare. Republicans worry about our business affairs; Democrats look after our health, nutrition, and welfare…’Daddy’ locks the door at night and brings home the bacon. ‘Mommy’ worries when the kids are sick and makes sure each one gets treated fairly. The partition of authority and duty may seem an anachronism from the Leave It to Beaver era, but it’s an apt model for today’s political household.”
Ann Coulter boasted on Fox news, “I am more of a man than any liberal.”
Dr. Garcia concludes, “As it happens, these observations are far more empirically accurate than we might have imagined.”
I look forward to your comments and questions. I hope you’ll read the full Good Men Manifesto. If you’d like a copy of the whole thing, drop me a note to [email protected]. Put “Good Men Manifesto” in the subject line. If you’d like more information about the new book, 12 Rules for Good Men, let me know and I’ll send you the latest information.
 The World Health Organization, Gender and Genetics. https://www.who.int/genomics/gender/en/index1.html
 Michael Gurian. The Minds of Boys and Girls. Psychology Today, March 6, 2018. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-minds-boys-and-girls/201803/she-he-x-they.
 The Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine. Just the Facts. https://gendermed.org/just-the-facts/.
 Michael Gurian, MichaelGurian.com. https://www.michaelgurian.com/about/research-reference-list/.
 Hector A. Garcia. Sex, Power, and Partisanship: How Evolutionary Science Makes Sense of Our Political Divide. Prometheus Books, 2019, p. 11.
 Christopher Mathews. “Mommy’s Love and Daddy’s Protection.” Baltimore Sun, May 14, 1991.
 “Ann Coulter on Her Feud with Elizabeth Edwards,” Fox News, June 29, 2007.
Originally published on Men Alive
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