Thursday, 10 September 2009

Y So Lonely

A harmless but nonetheless obnoxious malady has been plaguing our species for quite some time now. By species, of course, I mean man. Ah, but not man as in Homo Sapiens, because that epithet is considered too politically incorrect these days. I refer to the actual man, the chromosome Y; the stronger sex, the alpha male, the testosterone-laden stud, the impatient shopper, the beer-guzzling couch-potato, if you please.

Alas now, this malady has acquired epidemic proportions and is threatening to wipe out the very existence of man.

The initial symptoms seemed innocuous enough. We saw the signs in language at first - replace chairman with chairperson, spokesman with spokesperson, mankind with humankind. And it doesn’t quite stop there. Efforts are being made to update our vocabulary even further. So expect words like personhole, boogie-person, hitperson etc, to pop up in common parlance. So much so that David Letterman, under immense pressure from certain quarters, is contemplating changing his last name to Letterperson!

Now for the epidemic - the male gene is actually going to disappear; If not tomorrow, then about a thousand generations from now. And then recently, in a remarkably rash instance of clubbing one’s own foot, leg and thigh, some scientist casually announced to the world that he’d found a way to produce sperm artificially. Professor Karim Nayernia of the University of Newcastle, says the latest research brings the prospect of female-only conception a step closer. And it could spell the end of males because creating sperm from women would mean they would only be able to produce daughters. The chromosome Y of male sperm would still be needed to produce sons.

The research was received with welcome arms by some vested interests. The finding could very well be one of the last nails on the masculine coffin... A distant utopian dream of a world without males. These vested interests, by the way, are called feminists. The lesser important thing, however, is that the research was actually conducted in the interests of sterile men who need to sprout branches on their family trees.

But can we prematurely blame someone for the not-so-distant-future extermination of the male species? We’d ideally like to blame the bra-burning feminists (though we didn’t really mind it when they burnt the bras), the wives, the mothers, and the girlfriends who may nag us into extinction. Or should we blame the society which reserved everything for its women, or the women themselves who took over positions of power and became feminists? But as much as we’d like to blame the feminists, it wasn’t actually them. Ironic yes, but it may just be clinching evidence that God is indeed male and he is trying to take out the competition. Either that or he is a closet feminist!

Or, it could very well have been just good old science.

Look at the simple facts - each of our cells contain 23 pairs of chromosomes. Twenty two of them are matched pairs which both men and women share, but in men, the 23rd pair is made of an X and Y chromosome. The latter determines masculinity - the same genes necessary for forming testes and sperm, but above all, also necessary for less shopping, less irritability and enough patience to lose infinite arguments.

The problem, however, is that the chromosome Y is a lone ranger and does not have a matching pair. And worse still, it’s rapidly shedding genes. Around a hundred million years ago, chromosome Y carried about 140,000 genes. Now, there are only 45 left. It goes something like this - Every time a cell divides, some mistakes (mutations) creep into the paired chromosomes. But the cell can always get the correct sequence from the other chromosome. Though not on the Y chromosome. Because unlike women, instead of living with the mistakes, the Y chromosome promptly deletes them over time - to create the perfect man! And scientists believe it’s this process that is eliminating the man.

Scientists say that things seemed to be going all hunky dory till about 100 million years ago when the Y chromosome stepped up the plate and took on the added responsibility of creating males. And in this quest for perfection, it is doomed to whittle itself away slowly and await a martyr’s fate.

Although this did give birth to unarguably the best and most advanced race in the world, it also means that chromosome Y, much like Bruce Willis in Armageddon, is going to go down in the line of duty. And unless women find a way to reproduce among themselves or learn to harvest some of the last living males as batteries for reproductive purposes in a rather warped take on Matrix – it may just mean the end of sexual reproduction as well.

So, what does a world without males look like? One can imagine a whole sea of (lesbian) humanity writhing and cussing and PMS-ing at any given point of time in a month. Imagine a world without beer, or worse still, hairy-fairies guzzling beer and watching other hirsute fairies play football ( a reversal of the research that shows drinking beer can make men effeminate). Imagine a world without sex, much like Charlotte Perkins’ Herland, where women reproduce asexually. Where shaving cream and razor will be used only to shave legs and armpits. Or will they even bother with that? Where cars will always break down, accidents become du jour, and parking a physical impossibility? And best of all, there’ll be no man to be blamed for anything that goes wrong. Ah...not such a bad fate then.

Only sad thing is we won’t be around to enjoy that great all-male fantasy - en masse woman on woman action.

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