Differences Between Men and Women in the Genes

Introductory part

People have always been looking for love and understanding. But sometimes it is difficult to understand one another, and this failure can cause many problems. What are the reasons of this misunderstanding? For example in Japanese culture it is considered, that there exist two main energies, Yin and Yan. These energies are involved in the process of constant fight and mutual penetration. None of these energies can win, and there is harmony in their fight, which causes world to develop.

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According to this theory, each person has both of these energies, but the prevailing one in men is Yan, and in women is Yin. These energies influence people in course of all their lives. They bring people love, but cause a lot of sufferings too.

But in this research work the modern point of view on the problem of differences between men and women is considered. Scientists think that the differences between men and women are mainly in their genes.

According to the latest research, men and women proved to be even more different than it was considered before.

Main body – The Differences between Men and Women Are in the Genes

The genetic differences between men and women

The analysis also found that the obsessively debated differences between men and women were, at least on the genetic level, even greater than previously thought. As many as 300 of the genes on the X chromosomes may be activated differently in women than in men, says the other author of the paper, Laura Carrel, molecular biologist at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine.

All told, men and women may differ by as much as 2 per cent of their entire genetic inheritance, greater than the hereditary gap between humankind and its closest relative, the chimpanzee. “In essence,” Willard says, “there is not one human genome, but two: male and female.” (Hotz)

Scientists were greatly surprised to find plenty of differences in one sex chromosome that both men and women possess. They have also discovered the “dramatic variation in the activation of genes on the X chromosomes that women inherit” (Hotz), but none of them can be found in men.

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Chromosomes contain the set of instructions to create an organism. Men have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome, the latter being responsible for the characteristics that make men male, including the male sexual organs and the ability to produce sperm. In contrast, women have two copies of the X chromosome. But, because the X chromosome carries a bigger instruction manual than the Y chromosome, biology’s solution is to largely inactivate one X chromosome in females, giving one functional copy of the X in both men and women. “Our study shows that the inactive X in women is not as silent as we thought,” said Laura Carrel, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, Penn State College of Medicine, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “The effects of these genes from the inactive X chromosome could explain some of the differences between men and women that aren’t attributable to sex hormones.”

The data also suggests that the female genome now differs from the male genome in at least four ways. First, previous studies had shown that the Y chromosome gives males several genes that are absent in the female. Second, this study shows the fact that some genes on the inactive X are expressed means that about 15 percent of the genes are expressed at higher levels in females than in males. Third, this study also shows an additional 10 percent of genes on the inactive X show variable expression levels in females, whereas men have only a single copy of these genes. And finally, scientists had already known that random nature of X-inactivation shows that females, but not males, are mosaics of two cell populations with respect to X-linked gene expression. (Penn State)

These differences are considered to be potential factors that may help to explain differences between men and women. This information may also help when it comes to treatment of certain diseases.

The influence of the genetic differences upon psychology of men and women

So as we see now, the difference in the genes on men and women is dramatic. And this fact cannot fail to influence all the aspects of human’s life. This leads to the great number of differences between men and women in physiology and psychology.

For example, four times as many women suffer from depression as men.

Four times as many women try to commit suicide as men; however, four times as many men end their lives as a result of successful suicide attempt.

Four times as many boys are dyslexic as girls.

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Boys are more hyperactive.

Girls are better learners.

Women cry more often.

There are also some behavioral patterns that are absolutely different for men and women.

For decades, psychological research maintained that both men and women rely on fight or flight to cope with stress, meaning that when confronted with stress, individuals either react with aggressive behavior, such as verbal conflict and more drastic actions, or withdraw from the stressful situation. The researchers found that men often react to stress with a traditional fight-or flight response. However, the researchers found that women are more likely to manage their stress with a tend-and-befriend response by nurturing their children or seeking social contact, especially with other women (Penn State).

Men are more prone to stress than women, they often react to it in aggressive manner, which may lead to hypertension or alcohol abuse. But women tend to be calmer and try to look for a compromise. This makes clear why on the average women live about seven years longer then men.

Ways to overcome psychological differences

The hormone oxytocin is considered to be the key. It decreases depression and anxiety. Both men and women have it, but women produce more (Penn State).

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Many writers and scientists have worked on this problem of differences between men and women. The reason of it is the desire to help people to build healthy relationships and to bring harmony in their lives.

One of such writers is John Gray. He is the author of fifteen books on psychology and relationships, but he is famous for his book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, published in 1992.

In this book the author offers the reader the idea that men and women are essentially different in their physiology and psychology. There are some hints of how to improve husband-wife relationships trying to understand the emotional needs and the communication style of the opposite sex.

The central theme of this book is that men and women are so different because they are creatures from other planets. According to his theory, men are from Mars and women are from Venus. The Roman gods Mars and Venus are their ideal types.

For example, according to Gray’s theory, if a woman complains about her problems, she wants somebody to know about her troubles, to share her sufferings, but as for a man his complaint means he’s looking for a solution. Women always want to have somebody to talk to, a shoulder to cry on. Women can even become upset if her interlocutor will give her numbers of possible ways out instead of just listening.

Men can sometimes feel that women want them to solve all their problems, which is not quite true. As for men, they often prefer going to his “cave” rather than to talk. Women’s experience is like this: “Plenty of us have experienced a man who seems to have shut us out, is quiet and nonresponsive. We feel abandoned and unwanted” (Gray 23).

This is not true. According to Gray, when a man has problems, all he needs is to separate himself from the world and think. He just retreats into his “mental” cave in order to find a solution. And of course he will eventually come out of his cave, and a loving and attentive woman must have patience and not force the man. If he is not ready to talk yet, he may go back to his cave.

So the purpose of the book is to show the reader the absolutely different ways that men and women communicate. The reader is showed how to accept these differences and avoid conflicts. Gray writes that harmony between sexes is possible to achieve.

As for critics, they accused Gray of over-simplifying complicated human nature and using stereotypes that cannot describe adequately many people. But however more that 30 million copies of Gray’s books were sold all over the world, so this author managed to reach international acclaim.

As for another scientist, professor Tannen, in her article “Sex, Lies and Conversation: Why Is So Hard for Men and Women to Talk to Each Other?” she describes problems in communication that every family faces sooner or later.

In my own research, complaints from women about their husbands most often focused not on tangible inequities such as having given up the chance for a career to accompany a husband to his, or doing far more than their share of daily life-support work like cleaning, cooking, social arrangements and errands. Instead, they focused on communication: “He doesn’t listen to me,” “He doesn’t talk to me.” I found, as Hacker observed years before, that most wives want their husbands to be, first and foremost, conversational partners, but few husbands share this expectation of their wives (Tannen, 1990a).

The author states, that the roots of the problem of communication are in people’s childhood.

As for boys, the grounds for friendship for them is doing things together. Communicating is important, but it is nothing more than on of its constituents. But as for girls, for them talking is the essential part of communication. Girls share thoughts, secrets etc. And when a girl grows up and becomes a woman, she wants her husband to be a perfect listener and interlocutor. What is more, sometimes a woman can accuse her husband of not listening to her just because he doesn’t look in her eyes during their conversation. Women are used to face each other directly, looking straight into each other’s eyes. That is why they can feel hurt if men only periodically glance at them.

Another difference that men and women have in their communication styles is that women tend to dwell on the same topic for quite a long time, whereas men are apt to change topics swiftly:

The girls in my study tended to talk at length about one topic, but the boys tended to jump from topic to topic. The second-grade girls exchanged stories about people they knew. The second-grade boys teased, told jokes, noticed things in the room and talked about finding games to play. The sixth-grade girls talked about problems with a mutual friend. The sixth grade boys talked about 55 different topics, none of which extended over more than a few turns (Tannen, 1990a).

Men and women have different expectances about communication in marriage. In family woman feels free to share her thoughts and emotions, when she is not afraid that she can offend somebody. But as for a man talking helps him to prove his status, to show his intelligence. That is why a talkative wife and a silent husband is such a common pattern.

Men grow up in a world in which a conversation is often a contest, either to achieve the upper hand or to prevent other people from pushing them around. For women, however, talking is often a way to exchange confirmation and support. (Tannen, 1990b, 17)

Conclusion

According to Tannen, the only possible solution of this problem is trying to learn more about differences in men and women’ s styles of communication. If you are ready to help your partner to feel at ease, it won’t be a problem to help him and to support harmonious relationship.

Sociobiology offers one more theory of sex and gender differences. According to it both men and women try to follow distinct reproductive strategies.

For men it means “to have sex with as many women as possible in order to father many children with their genes” (Wood 34). As for women, they can get pregnant only some days during each menstrual cycle, so their best strategy is to be very selective in choosing potential fathers of their future children.

What does it mean to be a man? “To be masculine is to be strong, ambitious, successful, rational and emotionally controlled” (Wood 22). As for a woman she is supposed to be “Physically attractive, deferential, emotionally expressive, nurturing, and concerned with people and relationships” (Wood 22).

So the difference in the genes between men and women is immense, and it influences all the aspects of their lives.

Works Cited

Coates,J. “Talk in the Intimate Relationship: His and Hers.” Language and Gender: A Reader. J. Blackwell: 1998.

Gray, John. “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus: A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationship.” New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Hotz, Robert. “Galaxy Of Genetic Differences Between Men & Women: Latest Research Into X Chromosome Brings Startling Discoveries.” 2005. The Scotsman – UK. 2008.

Penn State. “Men And Women: The Differences Are In The Genes.” Science Daily 2005.

Tannen, Deborah. “Sex, Lies and Conversation: Why Is So Hard For Men and Women to Talk to Each Other?” The Washington Post: June 1990a.

Tannen, Deborah. “You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation.” New York: Ballantine Books, 1990b.

Wood, Julia. “Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture.” 4th Edition. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing. 2001.

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