And other tales from the jungle
"While it is true that many gender-nonconforming children will turn out to be gay, there are also many gender-nonconforming children who do not turn out to be gay. I was one such child, and I am hardly alone."
Thank you Heather for taking a moment to include this bit. There is such a seemingly huge focus on the side of those pushing back against the "affirmative care" movement of children who claim to be trans, that if left alone, these kids will just grow up to be gay. But like you said, there are so many who aren't gay and simply just prefer hobbies more popular among the opposite sex.
I'm a millennial and was a tomboy growing up, and had loads of more male-dominated interests (hot wheels cars, classic rock and metal music, sports, hated dresses, action movies, most of my friends were guys, I took wood shop in HS). As a preteen and teenager I wore mostly sweatpants and hoodies to hide my body so I wouldn't get any attention from guys (didn't help that I started going through puberty on the younger side), and once overheard my dad asking my mom if I'd mentioned anything to her about maybe being a lesbian.
But fast forward and I'm married with 2 kids and the majority of my hobbies are still more masculine with the odd more feminine interest as well like cross stitching. I wish we could reclaim the tomboy label so that girls who aren't interested in stereotypically femnine things aren't automatically assumed to be either trans or lesbian.
Without ignoring the central message, the biology is fascinating.
"fast driving"?! Who knew? I didn't see that one coming!
Informative and illustrative as usual.
Thanks Heather, somehow I'd forgotten about the biological concept of polymorphism (apologies to my past teachers) despite its ubiquity. Having a name for such a common phenomenon is lovely.
I love the nuance in this post, and to me it seems that nuance is what this post is about. Part of what is frustrating about *so many* of today's political and social discussions is that they dumb down the discussion and leave no room for compromise.
There may be something evolutionary to say about the simplicity of an argument here, but if a simple argument is "more effective", then it becomes all the more important to refine and broadcast those nuanced ones.
Amazing I can't write well enough to get readable markings on anything that small, let alone one that is putting up a fight. What crazy fun you have had - except the crashing the boat incident.
I love reading these zoo-centric essays -- they are so interesting and so delightful! My second-story home office has windows facing north and east that look out on trees taller than my roof. I spend far more of my workday than my employer would be happy to hear about observing the goings-on of my animal neighbors -- jays, woodpeckers, finches, sparrows, crows, grackles, doves, nuthatches, squirrels, and occasionally snakes -- sometimes in fierce competition and sometimes warily co-existing. I'm afraid I'm unable to simply neutrally observe as Heather does with such precision. I cannot resist imposing my own anthropomorphic screenplays on, and assigning names to, these unwitting actors. My current favorite is a raucously vocal, yet seemingly unlucky-in-love male mockingbird whom I call "Guido" because he reminds me of one of the preening young men in "Jersey Shore."
It never occurred to me as a child that I might be playing with the "wrong" toys. My sisters and I played with dolls, and Fisher Price people, but also with plants and dirt. I was jealous that our neighbors down the street got to have cap guns and big wheels, I just assumed that we couldn't afford such fine luxuries. To this day, I love a good marble run or Rube Goldberg type machine, and worked in a field that allowed me to make things with my hands instead of on a computer. Never did I question my sex, despite being uncomfortable with male attention during puberty. Enough with this gender identity nonsense. To quote my favorite Heterodorx Nina Paley and Corinna Cohn, "Sex is real. People are weird."
I'd like to know more about the sparrows, but the story of the frogs is a good explanation of how monogamy allows our particular species to thrive. When sexual competition among males is so fierce, all their energy goes into winning that competition. I have been reading about Birds of Paradise recently. With virtually no predators in their habitat, all the males' energy seems to go into advertising their fitness as mates and defending their territories. If humans had to do the same for every mating, I doubt that we would have made it out of the trees. Perhaps that is a contributing factor as to why the other great apes have not done so.