In May of 2011, one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century died and no one cared enough to notice. A handful (if that) of obituaries for Newton Thornburg appeared online, and it took me almost an entire year to stumble upon news of his passing at…
Biologists call a small male fish who darts in to fertilize eggs a “sneaker,”, a medium male who resembles a female a “female mimic,”, and a large aggressive territorial male a “parental,” to place a positive spin of his egg guarding. Both the sneaker and the female mimic are “sexual parasites” of the parental male’s “investment” in nest construction and territorial defense. The sneaker and the female mimic are said to express a gene for “cuckoldry,” as though the parental male were married to a female in his territory and victimized by her unfaithfulness. In fact, a territorial male and the female who is temporarily in his territory are not pair-bonded. Scientists sneak gender stereotypes into the primary literature and corrupt its objectivity. Are these descriptions only harmless words? No. The words affect the view of nature that emerges from biology.
"One male friend said that I couldn’t do it because my husband’s business partners would see, and one asked how my sons would feel when they grow up [they are seven and nine]. But both arguments were about the men in my life, and I thought they weren’t reason enough to stop me as an artist, a woman and a feminist."
Photos: Laura Dodsworth