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Monday, November 23, A.D. 2015
Study Finds Sexism Rampant in Nature

Here is a classic from The Onion to brighten any day, “Study Finds Sexism Rampant in Nature”:

SAN DIEGO—According to a University of California–San Diego study released Monday, sexism is rampant throughout the natural world, particularly among the highest classes of vertebrates.

“When we first decided to examine attitudes and behaviors toward gender roles among non-humans, we were wholly unprepared for what we would find,” said Jennifer Tannen, leader of the UCSD research team, a joint venture between the school’s zoology and women’s studies departments. “Females living in the wild routinely fall victim to everything from stereotyping to exclusion from pack activities to sexual harassment.”

Nowhere is the natural world’s gender inequity more transparent, Tannen said, than in the unfair burden females assume for the rearing of offspring.

“Take the behavior of the ring-neck pheasant,” Tannen said. “After mating, the male immediately abandons the hen, leaving her responsible for the total care for the chicks. For the single mother-to-be, there is no assistance, either in the form of a partner or child support. Nor is there any legal recourse. It’s despicable.”

Tannen said pheasants are typical of the natural world, where a mere 5 percent of animal species mate for life. Among species that do form lasting pairs, the situation barely improves: Females must remain close to the nest to incubate eggs, nurse, and keep watch over the burrow while males are free to go off hunting and fishing with their friends.

“The sexist attitude that child-rearing is ‘women’s work’ is prevalent throughout nature and has been for generations, probably since reptiles first developed mammalian characteristics in the Triassic period,” Tannen said. “Sadly, most creatures never pause to challenge these woefully outdated gender roles.”

Tannen stressed the need to hold high those rare examples of species that do form caring, mutually supportive relationships.

“Wolves, beavers, gibbons, and a small African antelope known as a dik-dik all live in stable, monogamous pairs,” Tannen said. “Other animals need to look to them as positive models if we are to have any hope of one day creating an ecosystem of understanding and respect.”

More seriously, in addition to an unfair division of labor, nature is rife with sexual abuse and harassment. The UCSD study estimates that in 2001 alone, more than 170 trillion cases of abuse occurred in the world’s forests, grasslands, and oceans—all of them unreported. . . .

Make sure to read the rest of the woeful story.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, November 23, Anno Domini 2015
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