Gender Reversal

Gender Reversal
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

What do octopi, black widow spiders, elephants, and killer whales have in common? The females of these species are dominant in their social fabric.

Contrast their elevated position with that of today’s American women who are rebelling against endemic sexual harassment in a male dominated workplace.

By comparison, take the example of a common species of octopus. The female possesses awesome superiority. Speak about pressure. If, in the female’s estimation, the male performs poorly during mating, she strangles him and then proceeds to devour his carcass. Nature renders no judgment against her. The octopus just moves on to the next suitor/victim.

The venomous female black widow spider provides an even more deadly courting sequence. Killing the male and cannibalizing his body after sex is standard procedure.

Then there is the female praying mantis insect that takes homicide to another level. She not only routinely kills and consumes the father of her brood, but determines the robustness of her reproductive health by the number of males she digests. In essence, the more carcasses ingested, the more eggs produced from the additional nutrients.

Females are at the top of the pecking order among elephants’ and killer whales’ close-knit families. A grandmotherly matriarch typically leads the elephant herd. What about the males? At puberty (12 to 15 years old) they are cut lose from the group for a relatively solitary existence except to return briefly for procreation.

Regarding killer whales, the female is physically the more imposing, with a 40 to 50 year longer life span than the male. Leadership of the pod is ordinarily held by the eldest matron in the entourage.

A queen honey bee is ruler of all she surveys, and has the size to back it up. The smaller drones fulfill all her needs, and even then, the males take a back seat. With one less gene, male drones are more vulnerable than their female counterparts to disease. The female Topi antelope is larger than the male, and for a change, it is the girls who openly battle each other over the most desirable males.

In most bird species, it is the male who is larger and adorned with the brighter plumage. Not the phalarope shore bird for which natural selection has ordained a complete role reversal.

Females rule the roost in the world of mosquitoes in terms of lethality. It is the lady mosquitoes that are the biting scourge of human beings. The males are not blood suckers but instead feed docilely on plants.

Have human females been shortchanged by the laws of nature? Their gender tends to command more respect in certain milieu. Single female parents and matriarchs of traditional tightly bound families often enjoy elevated status (although the latter family structure is dwindling due to the socio-economic fragmentation of modern day society).

That said, the home environment remains the most likely place for women to experience at the very least, gender equality. In the workplace as yet, not so much.

Popular in the Community


What's Hot