Why Always The Male?

Image courtesy of psdgraphics.com. The male symbol.

Male (noun) – is an organism is the physiological sex that produces sperm. Each spermatozoon can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male cannot reproduce sexually without access to at least one ovum from a female, but some organisms can reproduce both sexually and asexually. Most male mammals, including male humans, have a Y chromosome, which codes for the production of larger amounts of testosterone to develop male reproductive organs.[1]

That’s the male in our species. Physically, they are strong, thanks to testosterone, and also culturally, but not neurologically. They are far more affected by neurodiverse conditions (aka developmental disorders and learning disabilities) than females.

Image courtesy of slidesharecdn.com. More males are affected with learning disabilities than females.

Statistics show that more boys than girls are diagnosed with learning and developmental disorders. I too am perlexed why males are more affected with neurodiversity than females. Is that because of their single X chromosome? (Females have XX chromosome while males have XY chromosome. A YY chromosome is lethal though). Or is it because males are males, as they live a ‘more dangerous life’ than females, ergo “boys will be boys.” Or we females have the so-called mother instinct, meaning, we have more developed bridge between right and left brain than males (no man-hating here, no offense please… I apologize). Let’s find out the reasons why…

One obvious reason is that boys with learning disabilities differ in behavior from girls with the same condition.[2] For example, in ADHD, hyperactivity and impulsivity is more common in boys than girls. These symptoms may disrupt a class and can cause behavioral problems at school, which makes teachers refer them right away. Girls, on the other hand, are more inattentive and may have more subtle symptoms of ADHD like daydreaming, which is not obvious and more difficult to diagnose. This is why males are thought to be more affected with learning disabilities. Also, female symptoms are also ideal in a gender-biased world. Their naivety, quietness, and weakness are considered ideal, hence “sugar, spice, and everything nice.” That’s why females with learning disabilities are hard to diagnose.

Image courtesy of buzzle.com Males are usually more affected by learning disabilities and developmental disorders aside from other genetic diseases because of their genetics: their XY chromosome.

Here’s another reason: genetics. X-linked diseases (hemophilia, Fragile X syndrome, etc.) are more manifested in males than in females. This is usually due to males have only one X chromosome and so a gene mutation on the X is more likely to have an effect in males than in females.[3]

Image courtesy of Scientific American. Boys, because of their basic biology, have some weaknesses that girls don’t have. Credit: Maria Guimarães/Flickr.

Are Males The Weaker Sex?

In an article by Scientific American, males are prone to all sorts of hazards. It is because that in humans (and other animals) the default sex is female. Life always begins in the womb, and only females have wombs, males don’t have them. Accordingly, the human male’s XY chromosome combination is simply more vulnerable. The two XXs in the female version of our species offer some protection: In disorders where one X chromosome has a genetic defect, the female’s healthy backup chromosome can take over. But with his single X chromosome, the male lacks a healthy copy of the gene to fall back on. The X chromosome, which never shrank, is also a larger chromosome “with far more genetic information than the Y chromosome,” finds Irva Hertz-Piciotto, a University of California, Davis autism researcher, “so there may be some inherent loss of key proteins for brain development or repair mechanisms in boys.”[4]

 The two XXs in the female version of our species offer some protection: In disorders where one X chromosome has a genetic defect, the female’s healthy backup chromosome can take over. But with his single X chromosome, the male lacks a healthy copy of the gene to fall back on.

Being male also has more risks of being diseased like being born prematurely, having weaker immune system, and having genetic disorders than females.

In short, being male is hazardous because he is not the default gender. The male’s problems start in the womb: from his more complicated fetal development, to his genetic makeup, to how his hormones work.[4] Humans start out in the womb with female features (that’s why males have nipples). The complicated transformation in utero from female to male exposes the male to a journey packed with special perils. When the first blast of testosterone from the Y gene comes along at about the eighth week, the unisex brain has to morph into a male brain, killing off some cells in the communication centers and growing more cells in the sex and aggression centers. The simpler female reproductive system has to turn into the more complex male reproductive tract, developing tissues such as the testis and prostate. Further, it takes a greater number of cell divisions to make a male; with each comes the greater risk of an error as well as the greater vulnerability to a hit from pollutants.[4]

Hmm.. this may explain why males are more affected with neurodiversity. This also explains why males must be “man enough,” hence development of “machismo,” male superiority, among others,to compensate for their biological weakness.

Image courtesy of pearlsofprofundity.wordpress.com

But females shouldn’t celebrate either. While males are more prone to developing neurodiverse conditions and have more obvious symptoms and are more readily rehabilitated, females are way harder to diagnose with the same disabilities. The main reason is that females are females. Symptoms align with cultural expectations, so goes with female hormones (maybe I’ll write a post about females in neurodiversity).

So it’s not always the male who is more aligned to neurodiversity.

Disclaimer: No man-hating content.

References:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male
  2. https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/getting-started/what-you-need-to-know/do-boys-have-learning-and-attention-issues-more-often-than-girls
  3. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090419133841.htm
  4. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-men-the-weaker-sex/
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