An Incredibly Sexist Misrepresentation of Some Interesting Science

I was in Subway the other day and the local top 40 radio (HOT 103) station was playing. When the DJ came on he said something really awful. He said he had just read an article about how men differ from chimpanzees by 30%, but women are only 2% different than chimps genetically.

This statement is obviously wrong, because if men and women were sodifferent genetically then we wouldn’t be able to reproduce…we would be different species. But the DJ used this article to justify his next statement, which was essentially that the next time your girlfriend is pestering you, remind her that she’s pretty much a chimp.

I don’t mind being compared to chimps (in fact he was wrong, humans – men and women – differ from chimps in only 1% of our DNA), but the implication that women are somehow less evolved than men was incredibly sexist.

I was curious to see what the article he was talking about actually said, though, so I looked it up when I got back home and it’s really quite interesting. The title of the article is “Male Chromosome May Evolve Fastest”, and wasn’t talking about male evolution, but about the evolution of the Y chromosome:

A new look at the human Y chromosome has overturned longstanding ideas about its evolutionary history. Far from being in a state of decay, the Y chromosome is the fastest-changing part of the human genome and is constantly renewing itself.

The Y chromosome’s rapid rate of evolutionary change does not mean that men are evolving faster than women. But its furious innovation is likely to be having reverberations elsewhere in the human genome.

The chimpanzee and human lineages shared a common ancestor just six million years ago, a short slice of evolutionary time. Over all, the genomes of the two species are very similar and differ in less than 1 percent of their DNA. But the Y chromosomes differ in 30 percent of their DNA, meaning that these chromosomes are changing far faster in both species than the rest of the genome.

It’s unfortunate that such an interesting article would be misrepresented like that. I guess I can’t expect much from a pop radio DJ, he’s not a journalist, after all, but I don’t think it’s unfair to expect him to actually read the article that he was using to justify his sexism. I wasn’t in Subway for long after he said that, but I hope someone called in and put him in his place.

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4 Responses to “An Incredibly Sexist Misrepresentation of Some Interesting Science”

  1. 1 Global Villager January 31, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    “I wasn’t in Subway for long after he said that, but I hope someone called in and put him in his place.”

    You should!

  2. 2 Tsuken January 31, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    DJ was a total idiot. It’s sad that putting down women somehow becomes a cheap laugh.

    As you said though: interesting article.

  3. 3 wolfshowl February 1, 2010 at 9:15 am

    I read that article a few weeks ago, and I remember being excited after all the gloom and doom of scientists telling us men may start to die out.

    It’s terrible that the dj would take such a positive article and spin it sexist. Either he’s intentionally being a jerk, or he’s seriously lacking in reading comprehension skills.

  1. 1 Tweets that mention An Incredibly Sexist Misrepresentation of Some Interesting Science « Struck by Enlightning -- Trackback on February 3, 2010 at 4:13 am

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