Of Mice and Men: Friday, December 4, 2009 1:06 IST
"It's been a question which has intrigued humankind since we started thinking: why do women live so long and why do they live longer than men? Evolutionary biologists have their own explanations but researchers in Japan have found a practical explanation: women have no sperm. This essential in reproduction apparently helps men have bigger bodies than women but what men gain in girth they apparently lose in longevity. The culprit is one gene which is active only in men. The research was done on mice, but in research what works for mice works for men."
"In popular culture, the long life of old crones has been variously credited to their ability to suck the life out of men, to behave like tarantula spiders and to generally develop some supernatural witch-like qualities against which poor men are hapless. Since the vast panorama of human history is littered with incontrovertible evidence of suppression of the female of the species, it can safely be assumed that collectively, men can find the idea of old, wise women threatening."
"Strangely, that coincides with the thinking that some evolutionary biologists have come up with to explain why women live so long. On the face of it, women should die soon after they reach menopause since once they cannot procreate they serve no purpose. Men can procreate till they die. But scientists feel that since women have plenty to offer society in the form of their cumulative and collective wisdom, nature keeps them going. So, like the sexless ants are vital to the wellbeing of the community, so are old women. The ancients perhaps instinctively understood this, so the importance of grandmothers' tales."
"But the Japanese research also raises a few more intriguing questions, to do with the psychology of human kind. Sigmund Freud felt that all women suffered from penis envy and wanted what they could not have. But if it is sperm which cuts down your lifespan, perhaps nature has balanced out matters pretty well -- we all want what we cannot have."
"Other geneticists have tilted the balance in favour of women claiming that the Y chromosome -- which gives men their manliness --is facing extinction and all nature is intrinsically female."
"Meanwhile medical science continues to push the envelope and women are giving birth whenever they like, people are changing genders, babies are born in laboratories and yes, men are also quite wise. Whatever the world throws at us, we have the ability to twist it to suit us. That is, perhaps, the most enduring human success story."
I would like to thank my friend Peter Dan Reyes, and the Diligent Media Corporation, for making this available for me to re-post.
"Diligent Media Corporation, which owns DNA (Daily News & Analysis), is a joint venture between two industry majors – the Dainik Bhaskar Group and Zee Group. With a reach of more than 120 countries and access to more than 250 million viewers globally, Zee TV has created a strong brand equity and is the largest media franchise serving the South Asian diaspora with presence in major global markets, including Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, the UK, the US, Canada, the Caribbean and Africa. The Group has transformed itself into an integrated media conglomerate with operations spanning the entire media spectrum."
Many a doctrine is like a window pane. We see truth through it but it divides us from truth. I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.