The Tragedy of Eukaryote Evolution
John Zmirak at The Stream takes note of a recent book by UC Riverside gender studies professor Jane Ward, The Tragedy of Heterosexuality. Dr. Ward mourns “the gender binary — the concept that there are only two genders, men and women — and the stereotypes that binary has instilled in virtually every aspect of our lives, from housework to career to sex.” As the online journal Insider summarizes,
Even joyous lexicons of straight culture have been shown to cause harm.
Just this year a gender-reveal party caused a California wildfire and firefighter death, and large weddings in Washington, Maine, and elsewhere led to coronavirus outbreaks and deaths.
It’s true. Think of all the upset feelings, frustrated longings, misunderstandings, jealousy, and more entailed by the fact that male and female humans constitute separate genders. In fact, Zmirak reasons: Forget heterosexuality. The real problem is sexuality itself and sexual reproduction in particular. Every single problem currently haunting our culture would go away had the history of life not taken one really, really tragic step: the evolution of eukaryotic from prokaryotic life.
The Lamentable Nucleus
What a difference a nucleus makes, and not for the better.
Had evolution, in its boundless wisdom and foresight, simply satisfied itself with inventing prokaryotes, none of the things that torment Dr. Ward (or the rest of us) would have happened.
Imagine, if you will, a planet without oppression, inequality, or autocratic nuclei imposing their undemocratic wishes on the diverse organelles inside the cell. Instead of…vicious tigers hunting defenseless antelopes, we’d live (well, we wouldn’t) in a kind of Eden.
Floating through the seas would be a proto-feminist, egalitarian biome of non-binary organisms co-existing in peace. There’d be no sexual exploitation, no non-consensual impregnation of sea lions forced into harems. Just periodic, amicable “splits” of DNA, from which both cells would emerge as perfect equals.
Bacteria don’t set up death camps. Archaea don’t drop bombs on cities full of civilians. And members of neither group write books like Professor Ward’s.
They don’t have to. They don’t face the grim, meaningless existence filled with suffering that her worldview presents her. Organisms so simple and elegant as not even to need any nuclei don’t regret their own evolution. Nor develop elaborate theories and legal codes whose tacit goal is their own extinction.
In an Alternative Universe
Zmirak lists some problems that would be solved in this alternative universe without nuclei lording it over organelles, including:
- Child labor.
- Painful childbirth.
- Unsatisfying sex.
- The oppression of women, and the existence of patriarchy (or patriarchs, or women) in every society though recorded history.
- Unaffordable health care premiums.
- Old age, sickness, and death.
- The Mongol invasion of Europe.
- The previous settlement of Europe.
- Toxic masculinity….
- Gun culture.
- The overhunting of animals by man.
- The suffering of animals at the hands of other animals.
- The short, unfulfilling lives of animals, plants, and most other eukaryote species.
For the literal-minded, do understand that Zmirak is joking. Remarkably, The Tragedy of Heterosexuality is a real book published by New York University Press and Professor Ward actually teaches at UC Riverside. But Zmirak’s lamenting the existence of eukaryotes is intended as parody. It’s even helpfully labeled nearby as “Satire.” Read the rest, and enjoy, at The Stream.