Are men expendable? After millennia of vigorously hoisting their species to the top of the food chain, is XY now a barrier to additional progress? Has the ball game for “dudes” expired? Will the future be self-reproducing super-women? With males”¦ extinct?
Kaguya indicates Yes.
In 2004, the first bi-maternal mammal was artificially created in Tokyo via parthenogenesis, a process in which an altered ovum, acting like a sperm, attached itself to another ovum to form an embryo that successfully matured.
The small black mouse was named “Kaguya-hime” after a mysterious baby girl in a 10th century folk tale who was discovered inside a bamboo stalk. Developed by Tomohiro Kono, Manabu Kawahara, and their research team, the little mouse Kaguya lived a healthy, normal life, procreating naturally as an adult.
In December 2009, a second report revealed that thirteen more fatherless “Kaguyas” had been developed. Once again, notes the abstract, “genetic material from mouse eggs was manipulated so it would behave like sperm genes.” The subsequent “pups” with no genes from a daddy lived 28% longer than the control mice.
Simultaneously, a lesbian separatist’s and a life-extensionist’s wet dream.
A 28% gain would bulk up longevity from today’s top male average of 80.2 years (Iceland) to an astounding new median of 103 years. But that’s nowhere near the top end. One of the Kaguyas lived 57% longer, and if we apply this to today’s long-lived Japanese women (avg. 86.4), their life span hurtles past Jeanne Calment’s 122 years, resting finally at almost 137.
Bi-maternal mice have an improved immune system due to an increase in a type of white blood cell, and they are considerably smaller in size. A December 2010 follow-up report by the Tokyo team suggested strongly that the additional years of the mice were due to the elimination of the Rasgrf1 gene.
Sperm, apparently, is detrimental to health. So… bye-bye, boys?
This is not the first time wholesale fratricide has been hinted at. My article title updates a chapter subhead - “Elimination of the Male and Human Parthenogenesis” - that appeared in Remy de Gourmont’s 1917 book, The Natural Philosophy of Love. That author asserted, “male is an accident: the female would have sufficed.”
In the 1950s another Frenchman, experimental biologist Jean Rostand, opined that parthenogenesis would make it “inevitable that a new kind of human being - according to our present knowledge they will all be girls - will appear in society and will be aware of their extraordinary origin… Realization of the fact that the male has ceased to be necessary for propagation will not fail to exercise a profound effect on the relations between men and women.”
Since the 1960s, biologists have recognized that many whiptail lizards, genus Aspidoscelis, are unisexual - all female - with the ability to reproduce with each other after courtship and “pseudo-copulation.”
In the 1970s and 1980s lesbian separatist science fiction writers began imagining methods of creating a sustainable culture without needing men for procreation. In 1975, The Female Man, by Joanna Russ, presented the “merging of ova” in a female society. The Y Chromosome, by Leora Gom (1990), also had females multiply via “ova-fusion,” a procedure eerily forecasting Kaguya’s emergence.
In 2008, Dr. Robert Sparrow, Senior Lecturer at Monash University’s Centre for Human BioEthics in Melbourne, posited that “hermaphrodite” women could emerge as world rulers, with no men required. He argued that, “to achieve things [such as] increasing people’s IQ or life expectancy… you have to ask why we shouldn’t all be girls.”
Sparrow repeated this assertion in a June 2010 article, where he argues, “Until we have the technology to produce genuine hermaphrodites, the most efficient way to do this is to use sex selection technology to ensure that only girl children are born.”
In July 2008, researchers at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom created human sperm out of embryonic stem cells.
In my 1999 Salon.com article, “Japanese Want Baby Girls,” I noted that 75% of first-time parents in arguably the world’s most developed nation were hoping for females. Sex-selection technology enabled them to make that choice, and now…
Look in the mirror, guys. Sayonara?
Were the Japanese scientists looking for a way to extinguish the male? No, of course not. When Dr. Kono was asked if parthenogenesis could be used to replace men, he unequivocally replied, “This is not realistic.”
Like Oedipus - who killed his father - Kono is oblivious to the destiny of his investigation.
For 221 years, humanity has recognized that males were the “weaker sex.” The first “death chart,” compiled in Sweden from data spanning 1751-1790, reported that women outlived men 36.6 to 33.7 on average.
Today, female longevity is superior in 189 nations out of 194. Men only outlast women if the latter are annihilated in primitive gynecological settings (one in seven women die during pregnancy and childbirth in Niger), if they’re forced into prostitution and succumb to HIV/AIDS (50% of Lesotho females between 15-24 years old have the disease), or if traditions are horrendously sexist (Afghanistan).
But still, men barely outlive women in such nations: Niger 57.8 years for males, 56.0 for females; Lesotho 42.9 to 42.3; Afghanistan 43.9 to 43.8; Swaziland 39.8 to 39.4; and Zimbabwe 44.1 to 42.6.
In Russia, women outlive men by 10.77 years. In Lithuania, the gap is 10.8. Although sharply skewed, this data reflects the masculine superiority in alcoholism, accidents, and successful suicide attempts. Men are four times more likely to kill themselves, twice as likely to die in car accidents.
The present-day average life expectancy of the world in total reveals a 4.5-year advantage for women, 69.5 years compared to the male 65. Plus, 90% of all supercentarians (110+) are women, notes the Gerontology Research Group.
Reasons for female life span supremacy are multiple, often genetically inevitable, and depressing, if you’re male like me.
Women have longer telomeres than men of the same age.
Women have stronger cardiovascular systems, the result of a 20% heart rate increase during the second half of menstruation.
Testosterone in later years increases the blood levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and decreases HDL (good cholesterol), whereas estrogen does the opposite, plus estrogen is an anti-oxidant that reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s.
The female shedding of the uterine lining during menstruation lowers the iron load, leading to less oxygen radicals.
Women can use normal genes on one of their X chromosomes to counteract a mutant gene on their other X - men don’t get this option.
John Towers of USC theorizes that because mothers pass on mitochondrial DNA to the next generation, the mitochondria might be better adapted to female environments.
Spanish researchers in Valencia located a “Methuselah enzyme” that enhances women’s health in every cell.
And so on. Men’s larger bodies are a detriment, men eat more foods high in cholesterol, women deal with stress better, women smoke less, women sleep 40 minutes a night more, women seek medical attention faster, women have slower metabolisms, women don’t get depressed as easily, women do more yoga and meditation, women socialize and take more water aerobics classes when they’re aged, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.
It’s sickening for men to note all this.
Of course, males have their accomplishments. Indeed, we do. Almost all the great war heros were men- oops! I mean, all the inventors. Yes, males are clever engineers; we’ve got to keep that in the gene pool.
Approximately 30% of males have a genetic variation called the “warrior gene” that is tied to violence, aggression, and risky behavior. It’s a valuable quality if you’re in a Neolithic tribe that needs volunteers to crawl into a cave and slay a big brown bear, but in modern times, men commit 89% of the murders (in the EU), 90% of assaults, 99% of rapes, and 85% of all crimes.
Is parthenogenesis reliably healthy? Not always; it is a wide-ranging term with multiple variants. “Immaculate Conception” - where a woman creates an embryo solely out of her own eggs - is a probably a stupid dead end because it is highly incestuous; any new -Jesus’ could well be an idiot. Cloning has also proved abysmal for procreation - creatures derived from this method have shortened, wretched lives due to hepatic failure, broad necrotic lesions, and immune collapse.
Kaguyas, though, are different. Eggs-acting-like-sperm supply as much genetic range as the actual masculine goo, plus they subtract the genetic liabilities of the male. Another upcoming development - using stem cell technology to transform bone marrow and other human tissue into “sperm” - will further devalue the old-fashioned male ejaculate.
In the future, women will easily be able to get “baby juice” without the big mammal attached, or even his Y chromosome. Already there is enough frozen sperm available to keep babies popping out for a couple of decades; by the time the last vial is drained, improved stem cell technology should have tanks of artificially-created replacement ready, ditto for Kaguya ova.
Gentlemen, what should we do?
Personally, I’m not that attached to my gender. Am I a traitorous “mangina”? If my species turns into small healthy super-femmes running around for 130+ years, that’s all right by me.
Maybe they’ll keep a bullpen of short-lived testosterone studs around for sexual services, 24/7, old-style. Or is that just my deluded fantasy, because I want to be one of those guys? It’s more likely that all heterosexual activity will be performed with male sexbots.
But so what? Personally, I’m tired of today’s gender polarity, the boy-girl chasm, with segregated shopping and play, the dominance-submissive flirting games, the mating and marriage manuals, the seduction rituals, the opening lines, the Mars and Venus dichotomy. Yeah, I’m sick of it. I’m ready to try something else.
Wouldn’t a unisexual culture of Kaguyas be preferable? They’d be conveniently sterile, unless aided by biotech. Another feature I’d like Kaguyas to have would be an ON/OFF switch for libido so they could carnally, ecstatically bond with anyone at an opportune time. Far better than being enslaved to awkward, inappropriate arousal, like I was, at puberty, invariably getting an erection after receiving Catholic eucharist, as I walked down the church aisle.
For nostalgia’s sake, a symbolic phallus on Kaguyas would be nice. My vote is for enlarged clitorises, like the massive ones sported by Spotted Hyena matriarchs, Crocuta crocuta.
Horniness itself also should be upgraded. Must we always be triggered by big breasts and biceps? Our noble brains eternally derailed by tight asses? Can’t we transform ourselves - via gene therapy - to fall head-over-heels in love with mere intelligence, wit, and integrity?
A unisexual world…
Transgenders already are heading towards this abolition of sexual differentiation. Last spring, in Australia, 48-year-old Norrie May-Welby became the first person to be granted citizenship with non-specified gender status. A commenter from the UK’s Gender Trust claimed, “many people like the idea of being genderless.” Some observers believe that, after gay and lesbian equality is secured globally, the next struggle will be for “gender neutral” rights.
Male-identified males, like the “anti-feminists” who furiously write to me, will battle, as they always have, unwilling to surrender any turf in the civilization that they can arguably claim they created. Conservatives, traditionalists, and religionists will mightily resist, appalled that anyone would want to improve the “Adam & Eve” polarity that has plagued us.
But the future, I suggest, is not masculine. Indeed, continued hyper-masculinity, with its violent, competitive, stubborn notion of honor, is a guaranteed path to non-existence for everyone: No Future.
Welcome, Kaguya. Welcome, bone-marrow sperm. Welcome longevity of the miraculous ova-fusion. Our alliance should not be with an either/or gender. Our alliance should be with progress. Long or immortal life, peace, joy, and prosperity.
Dr. Jean Rostand
Dr. Robert Sparrow