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Sex ItselfThe Search for Male and Female in the Human Genome$
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Sarah S. Richardson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226084688

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226084718.001.0001

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Save the Males!

Save the Males!

(p.149) Chapter 8 Save the Males!
Sex Itself

Sarah S. Richardson

University of Chicago Press

Bringing about sweeping transformations in cultural gender roles and expectations, the feminist movement has also changed the backdrop of conventional ideas about gender. This cultural change now registers in emerging debates in sex chromosome genetics, as the case of theories of human Y chromosome “degeneration” demonstrate. Focusing on the 1990s and 2000s debate between prominent sex chromosome scientists David Page and Jenny Graves, this chapter shows how postfeminist anxieties about the decline of masculinity inform the language, research models, and empirical debates in competing theories of Y chromosome evolution. At the same time, these theories present well-motivated, testable scientific hypotheses that raise novel questions about the structure, function, and evolution of the Y chromosome. This chapter introduces the concept of “gender valence” to distinguish the reflective and critical use of gender conceptions in theories of Y degeneration from cases of “gender bias” in science.

Keywords:   Y chromosome, Y chromosome degeneration, Gender bias, Gender valence, David Page, Jenny Graves, Evolution, Feminism, Masculinity

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