Is There Anything Good About Men? Celebrating The Truth About the XY Half of Humanity

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            Being male for nearly 78 years, I’ve had a long time to think about what it means to have an XY pair of chromosomes and how I am alike and different from those who have an XX pair. I founded MenAlive following the birth of our first son, Jemal, on November 21, 1969.

I invite you to an event to celebrate International Men’s Day with leaders in the field including Riane Eisler, Co-Founder of the Center For Partnership Systems, Michael Gurian, Co-Founder of the Gurian Institute, Lisa Hickey, Publisher of The Good Men Project, Boysen Hodgson, Communications Director at the Mankind Project, Frederick Marx, Founder and CEO of Warrior Films, and myself.

            David C. Page, M.D., is professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and director of the Whitehead Institute, where he has a laboratory devoted to the study of the Y-chromosome. He says,

“There are 10 trillion cells in the human body and every one of them is sex specific.”

            “It has been said that our genomes are 99.9% identical from one person to the next,” says Dr. Page. “It turns out that this assertion is correct as long as the two individuals being compared are both men. It’s also correct if the two individuals being compared are both women. However, if you compare the genome of a man with the genome of a woman, you’ll find that they are only 98.5% identical. “

In other words, the genetic difference between a man and a woman are 15 times greater than the genetic difference between two men or between two women, [.1% compared to 1.5%].

            The research at his lab has demonstrated that this difference makes a difference in all aspects of our lives. Dr. Page concludes by saying

“We’ve had a unisex vision of the human genome. Men and women are not equal in our genome and men and women are not equal in the face of disease. A great deal of the research going on today which seeks to understand the causes and treatments for disease is failing to account for this most fundamental difference between men and women. The study of disease is flawed.”

            There are many other scientists and clinicians who have come to the same conclusion. Marianne J. Legato, M.D. founded the Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine in 1997 to investigate the ways in which biological sex and gender affect normal human function and the experience of disease. In her book, Eve’s Rib:  The New Science of Gender-Specific Medicine, Dr. Legato says,

“Everywhere we look, the two sexes are startlingly and unexpectedly different not only in their internal function but in the way they experience illness.”

            There has always been a lot of confusion about sex and gender differences. Some believe that focusing on differences puts one sex above the other and that the only way to ensure equality is to try and minimize the differences. I believe a better approach is to appreciate our differences and change the system that puts one sex above the other. My long-term association with Riane Eisler’s Center for Partnership Systems has taught me that the lives of males and females are distorted when we live within a system of domination. Only by moving to a system that supports true partnership can our differences be celebrated.

            Roy F. Baumeister is one of the world’s most prolific and influential psychologists. He has published over 700 scientific works, including over 40 books. In 2013, he received the highest award given by the Association for Psychological Science, the William James Fellow award, in recognition of his lifetime achievements. He is currently president-elect of the International Positive Psychology Association.

            In 2010, Oxford University Press published Baumeister’s well researched and controversial book, Is There Anything Good About Men?  In the book, Dr. Baumeister offers provocative answers to a number of questions about the current state of manhood in America including the following:

  • Have men really engaged in a centuries-old conspiracy to exploit and oppress women?
  • Have the essential differences between men and women really been erased?
  • Have men now become unnecessary?
  • Are they good for anything at all?

            As a scientifically based social psychologist, the answers are detailed and supported with evidence. Here I will give you the short answers to the four questions posted above: No, no, no, and yes.

            In an interesting journey through the history of male and female Dr. Baumeister offers a hopeful new way of understanding our past, present, and future. He argues that relations between men and women are now and have always been more cooperative than antagonistic, that men and women are different in basic ways, and that successful cultures capitalize on these differences to outperform rival cultures.

            He examines our ancestral line in a chapter titled, “The Most Underappreciated Fact About Men”. He says,

“Amongst our ancestors—as with many other species—only the alpha males were able to reproduce, leading them to take more risks and to exhibit more aggressive and protective behaviors than women, whose evolutionary strategies required a different set of behaviors. Whereas women favor and excel at one-to-one intimate relationships, men compete with one another and build larger organizations and social networks from which culture grows. But cultures in turn exploit men by insisting that their role is to achieve and produce, to provide for others, and if necessary to sacrifice themselves.”

            Dr. Baumeister concludes by saying,

“While men have greatly benefited from the culture they have created, they have also suffered because of it. Men may dominate the upper echelons of business and politics, but far more men than women die in work-related accidents, are incarcerated, or are killed in battle—facts nearly always left out of current gender debates.”

            I hope you’ll join us for an engaging look into the world of men. The event is open to everyone but will be of particular interest to those who work in the fields of gender equality and men’s health. You can learn more and sign up for the event here.

            If you like my articles, please consider signing up for our free newsletter and get notified of the latest information that I hope will help you live fully, love deeply, and make a positive difference in the world. You can do so here.

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