it's a gene eat gene world and, yup! women don't ask

I try not to take too many lessons from evolutionary biologists because I'm told by friends who know better that it's "reductive" and misleading, not to mention divisive when the gene lessons learned suggest a gender war.

But it's not as if the geneticists are making this stuff up.

[M]ice with two male genomes had large bodies and small brains.  With the double female genome mix, it was the other way around.  Evidently the maternal and paternal genomes have opposite effects on the size of the brain.

Creation, like all negotiations, is a mixed motive exchange.

When the mother's and the father's genes meet in the embryo, they begin to compete with one another (surprise surprise!)  The process is called "imprinting."  The gene responsible for the growth of the fetus, for instance (IGF-2)

is active in the paternal genome but . . . inactivated in the genome the fetus receives from its mother.

The leading explanation . . . is that there is a clash of interests between the fetus, whose purpose is to extract as much nutrition as possible, and the mother, whose interests lie in allocating her resources evently to all the other children she may bear in the future.

The upshot on this particular gene (the one controlling for consumption) is that the "paternal copy of the IGF-2 gene always ask[s] for more, and the maternal copy refus[es] to ask at all."


It's all much more complex and textured and dimensional, of course, this theory of "gene imprinting" discussed in yesterday's New York Science Times article Tug of War Pits Genes of Parents in the Fetus. And yet as we explore negotiation strengths and weaknesses that are gender-specific, it's good to know as much as we can about our hesitancy to ask for more.  Whether expressed as the genetic level or at the dinner table, we women have been habituated over the course of millions ~ tens of millions ~ of years to sacrifice for the good of the group.  And that, my friends, is the good news!