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Sex and Gender - egg and the sperm summary.docx

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Kinesiology & Health Science
KINE 1000
Hernan Humana

The Egg and The sperm: How Science has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereoypuical Male-Female Roles By Emily Martin 1. Representations of sperm and egg depend on cultural definitions of male and female  The stereotypes imply that female biological processes are less worthy and male biological processes 2. Egg and Sperm:Ascientific Fairly Tale  Menstruation is viewed as a failure – medical texts describe it as “debris” of uterine lining • Death of tissue  Male reproductive physiology is seen as powerful • “normal human male produces several hundred million sperm per day”  In comparing the 2 systems, it is seen that the female sheds only a single gamete each month whereas the male produces several hundred sperm/day  Since birth, females don’t produce more germ lines (whatever they start off with at birth is all that they have and they shed overtime).Albeit, men continue to produce throughout their lives  One scientist writes that a woman’s ovaries become old and worn out even when she is young form ripening eggs every month  To avoid negative connotations associate with female reproductive systems, male and female processes should be seen as homologous • Female “produce” mature ova at one time and men “produce” them overtime • Males degenerate sperm cells (ejaculation) and females do too (menstruation)  Texts celebrate the continuous production of sperm in male reproductive system and make female reproductive system seem unproductive  Paradox: • Males produces so many germ cells and only use one of them to create child and Females have a lot less germ cells and use one of them to create child. Yet, female reproductive system is still seen as more wasteful  Egg is seen as large and passive – it doesn’t move  Sperm is seen as active – it moves, has a high velocity, penetrates the egg, etc  Age-old relationships of egg and sperm • Egg resembles queen (it’s passive, has protective barrier –resembles religious dress) • Sperm resembles king • Gerald Schatten and Helen Schatten relate egg’s role to that of sleeping beauty  Dormant bride awaiting a hero’s kiss (which brings her to life) • Sperm must go on “heroic journey” to get to the egg • If egg comes out into the open for too long, it dies (princess will die if she comes to the open)  Book by Ruth Herschberger shows female reproductive organs as interdependent whereas males’are autonomous • Ovaries, tubes, uterus and vagina are strongly dependent of each other • Male reproductive systems also have dependence, but not as much  Sperm ejaculation shuts off bladder  Sperm make the executive decision of fusing with the egg  Eggs have only micrographs or pictures whereas sperm have portraits (portrait is associated with powerful and wealthy) • This was seen in a collection of scientific papers  Sperm is seen as weak in WoodyAllen’s movie, where Woody is a scared little sperm cell  In all, the facts of biology are constructed in cultural terms based on is discussed 3. New research, old imagery  Sperm are described as penetrating egg • Before this research, it was assumed that the zona (inner vestments of the egg) formed impenetrable barrier • Sperm cells break down the zona by releasing digestive enzymes  Sperm have very weak forward thrust. They have stronger side to side movements because of their tails. This movement ensures that they can weave their way out of cells if captured. Thus, the egg must be able to capture and hold the sperm cell really well • Egg traps sperm cell and they form tight bonds via adhesive molecules on their surfaces • Then, sperm cell releases enzyme which breaks down zona, allowing deeper entry into egg  The finding that the egg is powerful in capturing the sperm cell and preventing it’s escape broke through cultural expectations  The Schattens discuss how a sperm cell harpoons the egg cell and take on the v
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