This week's diablog assignment covers two readings: The Wilchins reading on whether or not sex is constructed, and the Martin reading on the portrayal of the reproduction system in biology and mainstream scientific literature. The first reading questions whether or not sex occurs naturally past the obvious anatomical differences, and looks at the history behind the study of sexes. It points out that a lot of scientific discourse - both professional and mainstream - focuses on the differences between men and women, while ignoring the differences.
The Martin article, however, addresses a similar but distinct topic. Instead of focusing on the topics covered in biology and scientific discourse, it attacks the language and imagery used in presenting the reproductive system, looking at the variety of analogies used to demonstrate the reproductive process, and pointing out that they often portray the woman's half in a negative light - either describing the egg as passive or vulnerable, or making it seem as if the egg acts as a trap for sperm - rather than describing both sperm and egg as acting in a mutually beneficial manner.
These readings do raise some questions, though. For instance, it seems as if much of the focus of these articles are devoted to mainstream portrayal of science, with Martin quoting such publications as national geographic and several Farside cartoons. Is it appropriate to provide these articles as evidence for systematic bias against women in science when they often merely represent simplification of complex phenomenon for non-scientifically-literate readers?
In addition, do the analogies provided for the reproductive system in the Martin article function in such a manner as to create more bias against females, or do they mainly serve their original purpose; that is, to demonstrate how the reproductive system in females? Finally, is it a valid criticism to point out that there's a lot of focus on the differences between men and women, instead of similarities, especially when a lot of science dedicated to focusing on the similarities between men and women exists as well (anatomy, human physiology, medicine, neuroscience and many other fields all actively work on the presupposition that men and women share many attributes, even while acknowledging some differences when relevant).