January 1, 1995 in Nation/World

Weird Science It’s Being Carried Out In A Womb Near You

Stephanie Salter San Francisco Examiner
 
Tags:column

A heck of a story broke recently, but - what with all the jockeying for power in Congress, renewed interest in Whitewater and the usual bad news out of Bosnia - not many people noticed.

Researchers at the University of Chicago have isolated a “genetic switch” that shuts off the femaleness of the human embryo and flips on the biological process needed to turn the embryo into a male.

As everyone should know by now, all human beings start out as females and stay that way for about 35 to 40 days. (This is a bitter pill for some to swallow, but facts are facts.) After this, gender transformation can take place.

As the Chicago scientists found, a gene called “SRY” can kick in, and a female embryo starts to change into a male. The activation of the SRY gene prompts another gene - MIS which actually dissolves the embryo’s vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes.

Fascinating stuff, eh? But like all science these days, it’s loaded with political ramifications. What a shame nobody ran the SRY-MIS discovery past a few of the folks who take a special interest in gender politics.

Imagine the reactions of, say …

Andrea Dworkin, radical feminist: “This is just one more damning piece of evidence against the all-permeating, woman-hating, femicidal nature of patriarchy. There is no place safe from men. Even the womb.

“Pristine, unsoiled, the pure and perfect Female Embryo sits in serene anticipation of full development. Then, typically, patriarchy invades in the form of SRY to usurp her birthright. If that isn’t bad enough, the MIS gene destroys Embryo’s female organs.

“SRY and MIS. What do they stand for: sorry and mistake? And people wonder why I stay angry.”

John Paul II, pontiff: “As a rule, the Roman Catholic Church does not approve of or condone intrauterine exploration or gene research. However, inasmuch as the SRY/MIS discovery validates the Church’s long-held prohibition of women serving as priests, we make an exception.

“Try as we might, we have not been able to prove through the Scriptures that God wants a ‘Men Only’ sign on the seat of Church power. In fact, a Vatican-sponsored scripture study, done in the 1980s, indicated just the opposite. But we don’t like to talk about that.

“That the SRY gene halts the development of the female embryo - and the MIS gene wipes out female parts - clearly proves God’s intent: Man has rightful and dominant authority over woman.

“It does not work the other way around, you notice.”

Policy statement, the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force: “We hope that recent discoveries around the SRY gene will lend further credence to our position that gender inclination and its resultant sexual preference is an act of nature, not a ‘deviant choice.’

“After all, now that we better understand the complex biological process involved in transforming a female embryo into a male, it is no leap at all to assume that, sometimes, this process will vary.

“How can we not allow for the occasional power surge - if you will - from an SRY gene? Or for an MIS gene that falls short of its strafe-and-burn mission?

“Does anyone honestly believe that it all goes exactly to formula, every time?”

Government spokesman, Peoples Republic of China: “As much of the world is aware, our country must control its exponential population growth. One new child has been and still is the legal limit in China.

“This can be a problem for couples who want a son, which - despite all our egalitarian lip service - seems to be most couples.

“Getting rid of girl babies is most inefficient and, people tell us, immoral. Better to nip unwanted females in the bud - to use a Western expression.

“In short: Isolating the gender switch is all very good and well. But, to the scientist who can deliver the switch, China will pay big bucks.”

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