Response to Comments on Subject: Parthenogenesis
A reader has some challenges to my last post, and since they're common responses, I thought I'd bump them up so the additional information doesn't get buried in comments.
`Maleness is derived from the female. That's science.'
Q: It's real bad, circa 1955 science.
That's odd, since the sources I use date from the 1970's to 2004. Are geneticists currently working using a "bad 1955 Model"?
From Adam's Curse by Bryan Sykes, 2004:
"a cascade of other genes, as yet unknown, that diverted the embryo from it's natural course of development into a female and instead channelled it onto a different path, the path that leads to maleness."
From Steve Jones, in his book Y:The Descent of Man, published in 2003:
Intro, page xiiii
"switch the embryo from its first and feminine state."
Page 1 :
"...biology proves that man, and not woman, is the second sex. His sole task is to fecundate his spouse, but quite why he does it remains a mystery. To divide is more efficient than to unite, and everyone has a history of a single sexual event when sperm met egg, followed by billions of cell divisions without its benefit. Untold numbers of species manage without even that masculine moment and for most of the time do not seem to mourn its absence"
From The Redundant Male, published in 1983 by Jeremy Cherfas and John Gribbin"
"Females could reproduce on their own if the egg cells could be induced to develop on their own. But males can never do so. Their sex cells, or gametes, have no store of food to use in the first stages of development. Males, from the level of gametes upwards, are utterly dependent on females in order even to enter life's lottery, and at a fundamental level the egg cell can be regarded as a resource for which sperm cells compete. If, for whatever reason, sexual reproduction loses its evolutionary edge and an asexual mutation arises, it must always be the female that provides the basis of the new line and the male that falls by evolution's wayside. This applies to our own species as much as any other. Men are at best parasites on women, and at worst totally redundant in the immediate evolutionary scheme."
"we want to repeat that, in some fundamental sense, women, like all female mammals, come first; the old Adam and Eve story is precisely wrong, even as an allegory.
Back to our commentor:
Q:Since then, lots of research has been done (by feminist biologists) showing that the formation of sex characteristics in female infants is just as dependent on an intricate biochemical sequence as it is in male infants.
Can you name a couple? I'd love to read their work. In the mean time, all of my sources indicate that an embryo not beset by virilizing hormones will always be female. None of the biologists or geneticists I've read indicate that there is any additional process required to produce a female. Additional processes do take place, but they are in response to the presence of the active X. Even in their absence, the child will be female. A cell with no Y will be female; a cell with no X will not survive.
The Redundant Male, page 51:
"If the fetus shows no signs of maleness by six weeks, then it is definitely female."
Q:How would you respond to feminist biologists and philosophers of biology who object to the `woman as default' model on the grounds that it draws too heavily on the Aristotelean notion that women are `underdeveloped' men?
By replying that man is an imperfect woman. The y chromosome is much smaller and incomplete. Men are mutated women.
“You can think of maleness as a type of birth defect.--Dr Stephen Watchel
Q:The problem with adopting this model shows up when you mention intersexuals. You give the following, incredibly incorrect definition and explanation: `An Intersexual is an individual in which both male and female genitalia are present. In humans, the change was interrupted and because they failed to differentiate completely they are usually sterile.' Let me simply stress that I have never seen a contemporary biologist who works on embryological development, &c., describe intersexuality this way; and many in the intersex community would take great offense at your characterising them using inferiorizing language (developmentally `interrupted', `failed').
There is no doubt that defining and describing Intersexuality is a problem. Let's consult Wikipedia:
An intersexual or intersex person (or organism of any unisexual species) is one who is born with genitalia and/or secondary sex characteristics determined as neither exclusively male nor female, or which combine features of the male and female sexes. The terms hermaphrodite and pseudohermaphrodite, introduced in the 19th century, are now considered antiquated, misleading and stigmatizing, and patient advocates call for these terms to be abandoned. The phrase "ambiguous genitalia" refers specifically to genital appearance, but not all intersex conditions result in atypical genital appearance.
There is currently a move by some activists to eliminate the term "intersex" in medical usage, replacing it with "Disorders of Sex Development" (DSD) in order to avoid conflating anatomy with identity.  However, this has been met with criticism from other activists who question a disease/disability model and advocate no legal definition of sexes, no gender assignments, no legal sex on birth certificates, and no official sexual orientation categories. 
You can see that my definition is taken directly from this page. You can also see that the Intersex community is at odds with the medical community as to how to describe their condition. I have stated many times that I believe there are more than two genders, which is one reason I oppose the use of patriarchal dichotomies - they deny the true diversity of Nature. The physical reality of Intersexualty is that masculinizing and feminizing influences exist in tandem because the change from male to female stopped short along the line to maleness. That doesn't have to be defined as a disorder - it can simply be taken as a chronology with no negative connotations.
Q:I suspect that you would object that I am thinking `exclusively', not `inclusively'. However, your own reasoning seems to draw on exclusivist models from biology, which involve a sharp dichotomy between Woman (defined as some sort of biological source) and Man (defined as the ultimate, ie final, product of that source). I also find your reference to Mary Daly notable in this respect, as the wikipedia article on her indicates that her active exclusion of men from her classes was the grounds on which she was forcibly retired. (I'm not saying BU was justified in doing this; merely noting that the article does not make her sound in any way `inclusive' of all sexes and genders.)
First, as you can see from my citations above, this is current biological and genetic theory. It is inclusive rather than exclusive in viewing the genders as variants having a common female source.
Mary Daly's problems at BU were political, not biological. It's not really relevant to this discussion, but I happen to side with her. The issue was that she would not admit males to her classes along with women because women, having been raised in a patriarchal system, are actively oppressed and trained to defer to men in debate. She did offer to provide males wishing to study with her separate accomodations. I can tell you from personal experience that men in a women's studies course are disruptive. They are aggressive and belligerent and intimidate females in the class who then suppress their contributions and questions in order not to add to the conflict. Within the context of our political reality, Daly's solution was the best possible situation, however imperfect, in the realm of 50/50 thinking. It would be great if women were not intimidated by men, but they are, so accomodations needed to bend to allow women to discuss women's issues without constraint.
Q: My approach to feminism is repulsed by an approach that takes, as its fundamental principle, an identification of Female with Mother, but exploring this disagreement would only make this comment even more unwieldy. Let me say simply that I recognize and respect your decision to object to patriarchy on these grounds, even as I radically disagree with it, and I believe your position would be much stronger if you did not try to appeal to biological models long since criticised as sexist.
Criticised by whom? You gave no references. I have given several sources showing modern scientific thoughts expressing these concepts. The basis of my religion and politics is that the Goddess is a physical reality and that everything is a part of Her. She encompasses all aspects of potential - Birth, Nurturance, Love, Anger, Destruction, Death, Mother, Warrior, Queen, Nurse, Lover, Sister, Friend. I focus on positive aspects because I live in a patriarchy that never fails to express its opposition to the feminine principle and to paint it in the most negative cast possible. I don't believe every woman needs to be a mother - I'm certainly not. I do believe that every human needs a loving Mother, as many of us do not have because our mothers have been damaged by patriarchy, and I address that part of Existence that expresses that Universal Love so vital to our survival.
Now I have a question for you. Why do you feel that considering the female to be the original gender, which is known science you seem to have missed, is sexist? It's not as If I'm claiming men were fashioned from a rib. Merely that they are a variant evolved to provide variety to the gene pool.
Could you be expressing an unconscious fear of female dominance? Because that's not what this is about.