Sex Is Not A Single Factor

1908 WordsMar 13, 20178 Pages
Sarah Richardson’s, “Sex Itself” discusses the history surrounding genetics and the relentless search for sex determining genes and the underlying genetic basis for sex differences. Richardson begins “Sex Itself” with an introduction to human genetics, explaining that the human genomes are 99.9% identical, however despite this there has been an ongoing search for the biological cause of female and maleness since the 19th century. Richardson early on asserts her view explaining that sex is not a single factor, rather a dance of chromosomes, genetics, hormones, and phenotypic expression. Throughout the entirety of the book, Richardson examines how social norms affect biological understandings of sex, and the complex ways gender politics…show more content…
Many warned of the dangers of using this term, afraid that it would create the perception of an overly deterministic model of sex determination. There were two main theories being discussed for understanding the process of sex determination. The chromosomal theory of inheritance led by Theodor Boveri and Walter Sutton, follows the idea that chromosome are the carriers of an individual’s genetic material, and sex determination was a result of chromosomal factors. Montgomery and Morgan both fully rejected this theory, believing it was over-simplistic, asserting that with this theory gave the idea of separate developmental trajectories for men and women, while Montgomery argued that sex differentiation is merely two directions of the same process. Morgan argued that this theory painted a picture that all of femaleness or maleness was entirely dictated by these chromosomes. Contrasting with the chromosomal theory of inheritance, the idea of sex hormones and a hormonal model became prominent in the early half of the 20th century. Frank Lillie is attributed to elevating the status of sex hormones to a main object of study and interest both in the scientific community and making its way into pop culture. The sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, isolated in the 1920’s, generated massive attention. They became thought of as deterministic of our biological sex and the attributes that make us unique. The use of “sex
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