We moms have always felt like we do everything anyway -- but are men actually becoming a dying breed?
Dr. Wendy Walsh: I just watched another television ad featuring an (apparently) single mother and her kids shopping and finding ways to save money. The ad that played immediately before that one pitched a family restaurant chain, and the family spotlighted was a mother and two kids. Clearly, advertisers have gotten wind of the staggering divorce rates and no longer even bother to put Daddy at the table. This sign from Madison Avenue got me thinking: Are men becoming extinct?
They certainly are disappearing in the workforce. Last month's labor statistics report showed that for the first time in history, there are more women than men in the workforce. Women's presence in the workplace has been increasing since the 1970s, but the thing that pushed us over the 50 percent mark was the recession. Women still make only 77 cents on the male dollar, so as companies tightened their purse strings, far more jobs held by men were cut.
But that isn't the only statistic that has given me pause. Women are healthier and live longer and, already, there are simply more of us. In America, we stand 149.1 million strong. That exceeds the number of males (144.5 million). Males outnumber females in every five-year age group through the 35 to 39 age group. Starting with the 40 to 44 age group, women outnumber men. At 85 and over, there are more than twice as many women as men. That explains why I've heard that a widower and a bottle of Viagra equals nirvana in an old folks' home these days!
Seriously, what's going on here? Could men really become extinct? I know, I know. This is startling news for me to consider, too. Because I like men. I mean, I really, really like men, and the thought of living on a man-less planet is kinda creepy. But here are the facts, according to some forward-thinking biologists.
Women have very intelligent bodies. Our double X chromosome protects us from many diseases. If we inherit a deadly disorder on one side of our X chain, there's a good chance we have a healthy back-up X to compensate. We also express more genes overall than males, who have one X and one Y. The X chromosome -- one of 24 chromosomes found in human cells -- is much larger than the relatively puny Y (sorry guys: size, apparently, does matter). Our X contains 1,098 genes to the Y's 78. This means that female mammals contain over 1,000 more genes than males. To compensate for this, the female body switches off one X chromosome -- quite randomly -- in each cell.
Men often fall victim to diseases carried on the X chromosome because they don't have a back-up copy of the gene on the second chromosome. More than 300 conditions have been linked to the X chromosome so far, from heart disease to cancers, but since gals have another -- usually healthy -- copy of the X chromosome, we are shielded from the full impact of these disorders. Now multiply that fact by about one hundred thousand years of dating, mating, and procreating, and you start to see how men might become an endangered species.
So there's the writing on the wall that men may be on their way out. Add to this chromosome problem the facts that male premature infants are less likely to survive, and the fact that, well, the male lifespan is shorter, and the picture becomes clearer.
A few years ago, I sat on an airplane beside a young, handsome, smart version of an XY chromosome and he spelled it out for me. He could do this because he was a human biology professor in Great Britain. And he spelled it out with such a lovely English accent. I told him I was writing a book about men and women, and I asked him to give me his opinion on the intelligence of women's biology. He just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Well, for starters, it's been calculated that in 125,000 years, men will be extinct."
I laughed at that. "Don't you mean that the entire human species will be extinct then?"
He looked at me with a stone cold stare and calmly stated, "This week, the first human infant was born using frozen sperm and a frozen egg. Don't you think that in 125,000 years, you girls will have figured out how to make sperm for yourself?"
Apparently, this year we did. Yes, in July of 2009, the first manufactured sperm came off the assembly line. Yikes. Use it wisely, girls.
|Dr. Wendy Walsh holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and her area of interest is Attachment Theory, a psychological, evolutionary and ethological theory that provides a descriptive and explanatory framework for understanding interpersonal relationships between human beings. As a psychological assistant registered with the California Board of Psychology, Dr. Walsh has treated individuals, couples and families for a variety of mental health concerns including personality disorders, anger management, eating and substance disorders, and depression. Connect with Dr. Walsh on Facebook.|