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                                                      How Science is demolishing patriarchal ideas

Q: Is there any scientific basis for patriarchy?

Krishna: In patriarchal societies, the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is reckoned through the male line. People from  such systems  believe that sons are the "true heirs", and a son less father cannot continue his "line". While male members retain their family names through out their lives, female members have to take the name of their husbands after marriage. Male members also inherit the property rights of their families, while female members don't.

Giving such undue importance to a man doesn't have any basis in science. In fact Nature gives more importance to women and girls - at least during the child bearing years - because they will have to give birth to young ones and this is considered very important. For example given  the same conditions for both men and women, the latter will have less cholesterol levels than  men, protecting the young females  from heart diseases! 

The sex hormone oestrogen protects women from heart attacks and may explain why they are far less likely to be struck down than men, according to scientists. They have discovered that this naturally-occurring chemical helps stop blood cells sticking to the walls of arteries and forming potentially fatal blockages. 

 Women also might have evolved a particularly fast and strong immune response to protect developing fetuses and newborn babies. Men are more susceptible to parasites, infectious diseases and a man's life span is lesser than a woman's (1)! 

Patriarchy has never been grounded in science, and yes, daughters carry a bit more DNA from their fathers than the sons! Aha! Girls you are the better carriers of inheritance and you pass on more DNA than your men!!! 

Children get 50% of their genes from each parent. But there are a lot of exceptions to this rule.

Mitochondrial genes are inherited exclusively from the mother. That is only a handful of genes but important. Genetically, you actually carry more of your mother’s genes than your father’s. That’s because of little organelles that live within your cells, the mitochondria, which you only receive from your mother. This is called uniparental inheritance.

The Y chromosome is inherited exclusive from the father. There aren't a lot of genes on the Y chromosome and many of them are male determining genes. Since daughters get one X chromosome from each parent, daughters get 50% from each parent but sons get all of their X chromosomes from their mother and a smaller set of genes from their father via the Y chromosome. 

If you are female, you inherit 50% of the nuclear DNA from mom, 50% from dad, because they each give you an X chromosome. If you are a male, you get slightly more than 50% of your nuclear DNA from mom, because you get her X chromosome and dad's Y chromosome, and the X chromosome has 153 million base pairs and about 2000 genes, while the Y chromosome is about 58 million base pairs and about 200 genes. So if you calculate on the bases of the whole genome, which is about 3.3 billion base pairs, it ends up being that you have around 2.7% more nuclear DNA from your mom. An interesting point here is that fathers pass down a bit more nuclear DNA to daughters than to sons, because they give the much larger X chromosome to daughters! 

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is very, very small (~17000 base pairs), but there are many genomes per cell. In humans (in mammals in general), mtDNA is inherited only from the mom, because the mtDNA in the sperm is actively destroyed and does not get into the egg. So yes, overall, there is more DNA from mom, but only slightly more.  Because all mitochondria you received come from your mother only, you are technically more related to your mum than you are to your dad.

So, girls, don't worry even if your parents and societies discriminate against you, it is only a superficial show and get comfort from the fact that Nature and Science favours you! You are the ones who are truly honoured in reality.

However, I want to add here that some evolutionists think reproductive pressures on males  make them more aggressive and they try to take control over female members in their groups. Males attempt to control females mainly when the females are in estrus, and they show less aggression toward females at other times. But some  males of the animal kingdom try to maintain control over females all the time. In a wide variety of primates and in many other mammals, males use  coercive tactics to increase their access to mates which result in patriarchal situations. Some males try to kill infants of females to mate with them.

But several examples illustrate the variety of ways in which female primates resist male coercion. In rhesus monkeys, for instance, females form strong, life-long bonds with their female kin, and females cooperate to protect their female relatives against male aggression. This pattern of forming long-term bonds with female kin is common in many Old World monkeys, and in all of these "femalebonded" species , females band together against males. Females are especially likely to cooperate with one another to defend infants against aggressive males. Females also prevent certain males from joining their groups and will sometimes drive males out of their groups, occasionally wounding or even killing them in the process. Male aggression is constrained in female-bonded species.

Origin of feminism and matriarchy?! :)

Many human societies appear to involve greater male control over female sexuality than is typical of most nonhuman primates, and in contrast to males in most nonhuman primate societies, human males tend to control both resources and political power. This is more enhanced with male-male bonding and co-operation to have control over resources and in turn to have more control over females in the society. Female dependence on men for resources increased their vulnerability to male domination. Protecting their young ones too made females accepting an 'alpha male' in their groups. Development of languages enhanced this by the way of propagating patriarchal ideologies. And most people seemed to follow it at one point of time!

But societal changes in recent days give us great hope. Patriarchy is no longer considered as the 'in thing'. On the contrary, it is being despised as 'old sickness' in civilized societies. And when the advancement of science gives factual support to women and girls, we can confidently stand with men on the same ground.   




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Replies to This Discussion


Some Qs. people asked me on science and my replies to them - Part 39

The difference between patriarchal and patrilineal:

Patrilineal: When the family property and name/hereditary position is transferred from the father to the son. The daughter takes her father's last name and the wife takes the husband's.

Patriarchy: Following from patrilineal society - since the father owns the property/land - he is the head of the house. Generally, the males play a dominant role in such a society and the women are considered to be secondary.

Patriarchy is a characteristic of society that emerges from having a patrilineal structure. There are matrilineal structures too - such societies are matriarchal.



We inherit half of a genome from each parent, so you might be tempted to think it is equal.

But our mitochondria come exclusively from the mother’s egg and contain mitochondrial DNA.

Mysterious. Mitochondria are the power house of the cell.

And if you are a man, you get even more from mother. She gives you an X, which is larger than the Y chromosome that came from Dad.

Therefore inheritance favors the maternal side, and this effect is stronger in males.



Humans inherit mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from their mother's egg cell–an ancient genetic relic of when the mitochondria was a free-swimming bacteria. But the few mitochondria in sperm cells are notoriously void of nearly all DNA. Researchers have discovered that, as sperm cells mature, a protein called transcription factor A (TFAM) gets redirected away from entering the sperm’s mitochondria, where it would otherwise protect the genetic material. Without TFAM in the sperm mitochondria, the mtDNA there degrades.

Why this is interesting: If any mtDNA remains in the sperm cells, it could lead to infertility. In addition to this new observation, researchers have previously recorded several alternative mechanisms that keep genetic material out of sperm mitochondria in different organisms. 
What the experts say: “We need to uncover these mechanisms,” he says, “to better understand mitochondrial diseases and how to treat them.” Mitochondrial diseases affect one in 4,000 people in the U.S., according to a recent review.




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