Re: genius sex-linked? who cares?

Damien Broderick (
Tue, 28 Jan 1997 01:24:14 +1000

At 08:47 PM 1/26/97 -0800, dAN wrote:
>Damien Broderick wrote:

[several obvious conjectures]

>Interesting points... These are definitely areas worth researching.

Sorry, guess I should have put in some references. The ideas I mentioned
have been widely researched to within an inch of their lives. A book I've
listed previously, still interesting (replete with additional technical
refs), is:


Avowedly even-handed, Pool lets his own guard down in a revealing slip. The
female spotted hyena, he remarks, `sports a penis. Well, it's not literally
a penis - it's merely a clitoris so enlarged that it looks like a penis'.
*Merely* a clitoris...

>However, you DID leave out the possibility that such genius ISN'T sex-

As Lyle and others have shown, this is *not* a possibility, in our culture
(and every other culture known to ethnographers). It's just an observable
fact. Of course, what's at issue is *why* it's a fact. Lactating breasts
are pretty much sex-linked, but only marginally because of social practices.
Penis size is almost entirely sex linked - that's traditionally part of the
job description. But deeper than such markers are the associated genes,
whose impact is far more complex and far-reaching. Pool provides copious
references to developmental oddities attendant upon (I'm paraphrasing this
because I want people to do their own homework, and I can't be bothered
searching the book which lacks an index, goddamn it) XY children who grow up
to be perfect little girls because they lack the gene for using the
testosterone they dutifully produce. There's also the paradigm case of the
boy baby who had his penis sliced off by the rabbi or doctor and was raised
as a girl after his balls were lopped for the sake of neatness. Nobody told
her [or so I gather; this is a key detail, of course] of her sorry history.
She was discussed for years in the literature as proof positive of
socialised gender formation. At adolescence, she went to the surgeon and
had a penis rebuilt so he could get on with his life. This is taken as
strong evidence that his brain had been seriously androgenised in utero.

Damien Broderick (yes, I am sitting here on my ergonomic chair with my legs
tightly crossed)