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[–]MarkTwainiac 14 insightful - 1 fun14 insightful - 0 fun15 insightful - 1 fun -  (11 children)

And also, since the definition of a man is an organism that has sperm, and the definition of a woman is an organism that has eggs: I believe if only two "men", only two "women", or someone on their own can create an embryo/baby, then there is no difference between man and woman, egg and sperm. The only difference between egg and sperm was we thought only sperm fertilized egg, nothing else.

You've started out with a false premise based on erroneous definitions.

No, the definition of a man is NOT "an organism that has sperm," and the definition of a woman is NOT "an organism that has eggs."

A man is an adult human male; a woman is an adult human female.

Biologists base their definition of male and female on whether an organism during early development formed the reproductive anatomy that provides the potential capacity to produce/generate/release either sperm or ova - the male and female gametes, respectively - at some point later in life. Biologists use this gamete-focused definition to divide organisms that reproduce sexually into two distinct, mutually exclusive categories - male and female - because it's applicable to all sexually-reproducing species across the board - plants and animals alike.

During the earliest phases of life, all individual plants and animals belonging to sexually-reproducing species will develop along one of two different pathways - male or female - based on their DNA.

In humans, an individual on the male pathway will develop whilst still in utero reproductive anatomy organized around the potential capacity to produce sperm, aka male gametes, at a later point in life. Sperm are made in the testes, the male gonads.

A human individual on the female pathway will develop whilst still in utero reproductive anatomy organized around the potential capacity to mature and release eggs, aka female gametes, on a cyclical basis at a later point in life. Eggs reside in and later will be released from the ovaries, the female gonads.

Sex differentiation in humans begins very early on - the two different types of gonads start developing at 7 weeks, but myriad sex differences in embryonic stem cells have been found at 6-7 days and most likely exist from the start. By current methods of genetic testing, CVS and the NIPT, sex chromosomes and genetic anomalies, including those affecting sex development (DSDs) can be ascertained at 8 weeks. Visible sex characteristics can be easily observed by standard fetal sonograms that are customarily done at 18-20 weeks - and now are often done earlier for "sex reveal" reasons. (BTW, the normal gestation period for a human is 40 weeks.)

Male humans whose development proceeds typically in utero and afterwards will normally start to be able to produce sperm during puberty, which usually begins age 10-12. Male humans able to produce sperm usually will continue to do so the rest of their lives. When males make sperm, they do so in very large quantity - about 100 million sperm each time.

Female humans whose development proceeds typically in utero are born with all their eggs already in our ovaries. In the early stages of development, female humans will have about 6-7 million eggs that are extremely fragile and soon begin to die off. By the time she is born, a female human will have only 1 million eggs. By the time she reaches puberty, she will have circa 300,000 eggs left.

During puberty, female humans typically become able to mature and release our eggs, in a cyclical process that occurs monthly called ovulation.

But unlike male humans, who produce millions of sperm each time they ejaculate, female humans usually mature and release only one egg each time we ovulate - or in rare circumstances two or a few eggs. (Medical intervention with drugs to hyper-stimulate the ovaries is almost always required to get a woman to release more eggs.)

Whereas human males with normal sex development will have the capacity to produce sperm from puberty to death, human females with normal sex development will have the capacity to mature and release eggs only for a portion of life - from puberty until menopause. Since the average age of female human puberty is 11 and the average age of menopause is 51, this portion of a female human's life usually lasts about 40 years. Given that the average human female lifespan in many countries nowadays is 84+ - and some places it's nearly 90 - this means a majority of female humans who live a full lifespan will naturally have the capacity to mature and release eggs for less than half our lives.

Some humans will never have the capacity to produce, or to mature and release, gametes because they have very rare medical conditions that cause sex development in utero to be atypical. Some humans will develop the capacity to produce and release gametes as expected, but for various reasons their gametes won't function normally, so reproduction by natural means will be difficult or impossible.

Many other humans will lose their ability to produce, or to mature and release, gametes over the course of their lives due to accidents, disease or medical treatment such as chemotherapy - and because for female humans, losing this ability is the natural result of menopause.

In humans, being male or female is not based whether any of us "has" sperm or eggs right now this very second the way OP says. Nor is it based on whether we were able to produce or to mature and release gametes at every moment of every day in the past, or will have the capacity to do so every moment of every day in the future. The human capacity to generate/release ova or sperm naturally varies over each of our lifespans.

Human males can't make sperm before puberty. Human females are born with all our eggs, but we only obtain the ability to mature and release them at puberty - and we naturally lose this ability at/after menopause. Moreover, even during the years of our lives when female humans are capable of maturing and releasing eggs, we don't do so in vast numbers or spontaneously upon orgasm the way male humans do with sperm. We release our eggs one by one in a cyclical process that is not prompted by sexual arousal, orgasm or sexual behavior, and which we can't make happen by having sexy thoughts, watching porn, masturbating or by closing our eyes, making a wish and commanding our bodies to "ovulate now!"

Generally speaking, a human female will release one egg a month, or 12 a year. However, between menarche and menopause, most girls' and women's ovulation cycles will vary in length - so some years, an individual will release 8 or 9 eggs, other years twice as many.

TL, DR: The key element in how biologists define female and male in all sexually-reproducing species is which kind of gamete - egg or sperm - that early in development an organism developed the potential capacity to produce at some point later in life. Not whether one "has" or can generate sperm or eggs right now this very second.

As for all the rest of your post, none of it makes logical sense to me. Humans have figured out all sorts of ways to outsmart, "conquer" and attempt to override nature, but none of those efforts mean nature no longer exists.

Even if scientists are successful at bringing animal and human offspring into being without sexual reproduction, chances are that as sexually-reproducing plants and animal species will still continue reproducing the old-fashioned way that's been going on for the last 1-2 billion years.

The development of agriculture didn't stop animals and plants from growing in the wild. Plant hybridization and animal breeding haven't stopped evolution amongst plants and animals from going on naturally. Cloning sheep and making mouse embryos through artificial means in laboratories won't stop sheep and mice who live outside those labs from reproducing through sex. The invention and use of IVF, IUI and other methods of medically-assisted reproduction doesn't mean most of the human race has stopped conceiving babies by fucking - or that most people would prefer to do so, either.

Also, whether the offspring of sexually-reproducing species comes from the merging of ova and sperm or through some newfangled method that mad (and almost always male) scientists with god complexes come up with, the offspring themselves will all still have a sex - won't they?

NONE of the stories of the lab feats you seem so excited about say the cells that these scientists are working with - and all the embryos they are creating, or trying to bring into being - lack sex chromosomes. [Edit to add: links I've posted in other replies reveal that the cells these scientists are working with are typically male cells. Coz sex discrimination against female cells is the norm in lab research.)

Also, you might want to look into Lysenkoism.

Finally, enthusiasm for news reports that say such things as

Scientists say early experiments suggest it may one day be possible to make babies without using eggs.

“We’re talking about different ways of making embryos. Imagine that you could take skin cells and make embryos from them. This would have all kinds of utility.”

Artificial wombs and embryos made from skin cells – remarkable new techniques could revolutionise reproductive biology


A new paper published in Nature journal by a team led by professor Nicolas Rivron, from the MERLN Institute of Maastricht University, is making headlines around the world. The research sees scientists grow a very early stage embryo in a laboratory without eggs or sperm.

Seems highly correlated with misogyny. This can be the misogyny of boys and men with deep, abiding womb envy and rage and covetousness towards females - or it can be the internalized misogyny of girls and women who loathe their own bodies; look down on their own sex for having the capacity to conceive, gestate, give birth to and breastfeed babies; and often have serious issues with their mothers and others they perceive as mother figures.

[–]divingrightintowork 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I just wanna say - I appreciate you here :) Were you active on reddit? I don't feel like I remember your name from them.

[–]MarkTwainiac 6 insightful - 1 fun6 insightful - 0 fun7 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

[Note: I made extensive additions to this post on Jan 16 to expand on the points made originally.]

To add to my earlier comments, I want to make it clear that there's a lot more to determining the sex of a plant or animal than just developing the anatomy early in life that will give an individual organism the potential capacity to generate/mature/release either sperm or ova at some later point in life. The gamete definition is the one biologists use coz it's the simplest and it applies universally to all sexually-reproducing species, plants and animals alike. But it's really only the starting point.

In utero, human embryos/fetuses whose development is typical will develop a lot of additional reproductive anatomy beyond the gonads from whence gametes eventually will issue.

In addition to beginning to develop testes in the 7th week, a human embryo on the male pathway that becomes a fetus typically will develop ancillary sex organs that include a penis and a prostate. The reproductive purpose of these ancillary sex organs is to facilitate the ejection of sperm from a male body and delivery of it into a female body so that the sperm will have a chance of meeting up with and possibly fertilizing an egg. For example, sperm can only pass through the male urethra and out the tip of the penis with the aid of fluids made by the prostate and other male glands.

In addition to developing ovaries in the 7th week, a human embryo on the female pathway that becomes a fetus typically will develop additional sex organs such as Fallopian tubes, a uterus (which includes the cervix), a vagina and a vulva (which itself has different parts, such as labia and clitoris). The reproductive purpose of these other sex organs is, first, to facilitate the entry of sperm into the female reproductive tract for the purpose of sperm reaching the Fallopian tubes and fertilizing an egg there. If fertilization occurs, the egg will travel to the uterus and become implanted in the uterine wall, then if the uterus grows a placenta, the fertilized egg will have a chance to develop into an embryo, then a fetus, and finally to become a baby. Once a human fetus in utero becomes old enough to survive outside the mother's body, labor will begin as the uterus contracts and the cervix - the neck of the uterus leading into the vagina - dilates many times larger than its normal size until it's about 10 cm wide, equivalent to the size of a standard coffee can lid or a bagel. Customarily, a mother will give birth via her vagina functioning as the "birth canal."

If if in any ovulatory cycle, the egg matured and released by the ovaries is not fertilized and not successfully implanted in the uterus, or no egg is released at all, the lining of a female human's uterus will slough off and pass out of the body in a process called menstruation. Allowing menses to exit the body is another of the reproductive functions of the very versatile human vagina.

But sex of course is not just about our gonads and other reproductive anatomy. The general rule is that human beings are determined to be male or female based on a list of five factors that are checked at or shortly after birth, and/or during utero, and often later in life as well, via a number of different means.

The five factors on he checklist are:

  • sex chromosomes, usually meaning XX or XY, but more specifically the presence or absence of a Y chromosome, more specifically the SRY gene normally on the Y;

  • the type of gonads (testes or ovaries);

  • the anatomy of the external genitals including arrangement of urinary anatomy (vulva and female urethra vs testicles, penis and male urethra );

  • the internal reproductive organs a person has (such as vagina, uterus, Fallopian tubes in females and prostate in males);

  • the individual's sex hormones and sex hormone receptors.

The means for checking for these factors have always included physical examinations of newborns that involve looking carefully at their genitalia, and examinations and other investigations later on as well if during adolescence or adulthood a person's secondary sex characteristics and bodily processes depart from the norm (for example if a girl doesn't start menstruating by her mid-teens, or if a boy's testicles and penis don't get larger during puberty.) But nowadays, it's also very common for additional means to be used to ascertain human sex as well. The additional means now in wide use include genetic testing of fetuses in utero and of infants following birth; scanning of fetuses whilst still inside their mothers' bodies (pregnant women today commonly get fetal sonograms by 20 weeks, often earlier); scanning of individuals' bodies later in life when outside their mothers' wombs to ascertain exactly which internal organs they have; endocrinological testing to test for the presence and levels of an array of sex hormones. Also, sex anatomy is confirmed by standard medical procedures done for other purposes over the course of life, such as the standard internal pelvic exams girls and women get when being fitted for certain birth control devices or tested for cervical cancers (Pap smear) and the prostate checks older men routinely get after age 50 or so.

It used to be thought that human sex differentiation began in utero began when the gonads first start developing at around 7 weeks, and that all the other sex differences were primarily the result of the sex hormones that issued from the developing gonads. But it's now been found that sex differences can be observed in the primitive progenitor cells of embryos much earlier than 7 weeks - they've been found at 6-7 days so far, and with more research it will probably turn out that they exist even earlier. Since sex differences once thought to follow from and be the result of gonadal differentiation and gonadal sex hormones have been shown to actually predate both, the theory is that many physical sex differences are directly caused by the sex chromosomes themselves.

Not only do sex chromosomes exist in every single cell in our bodies, it's become abundantly clear in recent years that they affect not just how our sex organs develop and work, but how ALL our organs and body systems develop and function. The diseases and medical conditions we are susceptible to, the trajectory of those conditions and diseases, the treatments and the likely outcomes, are all strongly influenced by our sex chromosomes.

For example, whilst COVID-19 affects both sexes, and in many countries more women than men have gotten it, the likelihood of needing ICU care and dying from COVID is much higher in persons with XY chromosomes than persons with XX chromosomes even when all other factors (age, obesity, underlying health conditions, race, etc) are the same. I haven't checked recently, but when I looked at the issue in the late summer and early fall, males were twice as likely to die of COVID than females, and three times as likely to end up in an ICU due to it. The theory is that this is due to the fact that the genes that confer and regulate human immunity (as well as that do many other things) are all on the X chromosome, and males only have one X chromosome whereas females have two, males have lowered immune function compared to females. Which brings us to another interesting fact: male scientists have always assumed that in female humans, one of the X chromosomes automatically gets deactivated or "goes silent" at or shortly after conception. But in recent years, this has been proven not to be true. At all. In fact, in many of our organs and body systems, the second X chromosomes in female humans remains active throughout life - and in others where one X is normally "silent" or inactive, the second X can become active when need be, functioning as a backup if the first X chromosome isn't doing its job properly.

BTW, the entirely wrongheaded assumption that male scientists and physicians have made for generations about how XX chromosomes work in female humans just goes to show how much sexist bias against females there has always been in science and medicine - and that many of the "truths" scientists and doctors long have spouted about how female bodies function are a bunch of baloney.

[–]kwallio 6 insightful - 1 fun6 insightful - 0 fun7 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

Cloning is a separate process from sexual reproduction. Replacing an egg nucleus with a somatic cell nucleus is not the same thing as "fertilizing" it.

Like please for the love of pete get some education in biology.

[–]BiologyIsReal 6 insightful - 1 fun6 insightful - 0 fun7 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

Even if such technologies were developed, this would not change neither our biology nor our history.

Nowadays, we have vehicles like planes or helicopters which make flying possible for human beings. However, this doesn't mean humans are flying animals and I wouldn't advice any person to try to fly on their own without the assistance of adecuate technology. Also, the fact that we can fly now, doesn't erase the fact that we spent most of our history without this being a possibility. This isn't a minor a detail because our capability (or lack there of) of flying has affected our history. Pandemic notwithstanding, you can now travel from Los Angeles to Tokio in matter of a few hours. That certainly was not possible during the Middle Ages, for instance.

Likewise, even if such reproductive technology were developed, there will be still women and men around and their anatomy will still be arranged for the production of either eggs or sperm respectively. As the existence of males and females predates this hypothetical technology, it would be incorrect to state this technology would prove that sex is a social construct. Such technology would not erase the biological differences between the sexes, either. Likely your doctors would still need to know your sex in order to treat you effectively; and men would still have advantage over women on sports. Whatever social change this hypothetical technology would cause, it would not erase the social importance that sex had through our history up to its invention and, I think, sex would still be very socially meaningful after it.

[–]grixitperson 6 insightful - 1 fun6 insightful - 0 fun7 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

If a human can use technology (ie binoculars) to see a mouse half a mile away, does that mean there is no difference between humans and eagles?


[–]emptiedriver 5 insightful - 1 fun5 insightful - 0 fun6 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

If nonsexual reproduction becomes the norm, then which sex you are will become far less important. I don't think it means that which sex you are is no longer true, it will just be a much less notable fact if society becomes so dependent on technology that we create all our young through nonsexual means and do not use our reproductive systems.

If those reproductive systems still exist in our bodies, then we will still be that sex, though, and it will still have some effect on the way that our bodies work - female bodies have a whole extra internal organ system that male bodies do not have, to prepare for and eventually bear a child. Female bodies menstruate regularly in order to be able to do that. Maybe in your high tech asexual reproductive version of the future female bodies are routinely altered since these systems aren't needed anymore? They would still need to go through additional surgeries that male bodies wouldn't need. And males would still have the penis, testicles and prostrate that a female doesn't, and additional doses of testosterone throughout childhood. It just comes down to the distinctions of the bodies that we have in preparation to be able to create the offspring. We can come up with alternate ways to procreate, but naturally we reproduce sexually and that means there are two types of bodies. We can alter them, but we can't turn them into each other. We can find other ways to make young, but that still doesn't take away the bodies we have.

The future may be very different in many ways and sex may become less important as a category going forward, but it is still relevant today and should not be erased in confusion. Even when it theoretically becomes less important, it will still be a fact.

[–]FlippyKingSadly this sub welcomes rape apologists and victim blaming. Bye! 3 insightful - 1 fun3 insightful - 0 fun4 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

You are being disingenuous. Do planes erase birds? Do guns or bows and arrows erase arms that throw without any added technology?

You can not say that just because some technology can do some aspect of what some NATURAL thing can do, that then you are unable to recognize NATURAL categories defined by those NATURAL things. Does the existence of baby formula make you not know what boobs are? Or does it make the concept of breast milk sound like gibberish to you? You may find a group of people willing to pretend "well gee, I guess women and men are not real categories of real things", but no one has to pretend to be blind to the fact that creating some technology to replicate some aspect of some NATURAL thing does not say anything about that NATURAL thing. Stop pretending you don't see what is right in front of you especially in your own words.