Anatomy of Inequality

Biology no longer provides us with a charter for the Adam and Eve social model, the clear division of the human population into polar opposites, nor does it support the superiority of bearers of the Y chromosome, some of whom are anyway women?[1]

Yet the old binary XX/XY thinking persists pushing LGBTI into “no-man’s land”[2] and justifying inequalities of between men and women in many spheres. Despite the fact that they know better, this model is still influential amongst medical practitioners themselves, shaping their research interests, definition and treatment of symptoms and doctor- patient relationships. On the whole feminists and gender experts have taken binary differences as a given and focused on trying to ensure that women and men have the same life-chances.

A binary approach to Nature and Nurture leads both sides into error though experts from the Nature side have generally had more success in imposing their views. What is clear is that there needs to be more exchange so that scientists are more conscious of social issues, and non-scientists become more educated consumers of medical knowledge. There is little excuse for mutual ignorance in the information age; both sides need motivation and humility to share each other’s information. It is perhaps too early to say whether the exciting field of epigenetics will assist in blurring the boundaries but it is unlikely to do so unless both sides make an effort to understand its implications.

[1] Individuals with Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (CAIS)are genetically XY but develop external female genitalia but will lack a uterus and ovaries. Most CAIS individuals are raised as females.

[2]  No Man’s Land is defined as an indeterminate or undefined place or state.”the no man’s land between the two parties is where presidential contests are won and lost” or disputed ground between the front lines or trenches of two opposing armies.”enemy soldiers facing you across no man’s land”

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