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Are women genetically superior to men?

iStockphoto xy chromosomes
Published: 28 July 2013 (GMT+10)

A number of modern myths about the genetics and development of the sexes—that the Y chromosome is ‘inferior’ to the X chromosome and that all babies start off female. CMI writers Dr Robert Carter, , and Lita Cosner help dispel these myths.

R.B. from the United States writes:

What is your response to the XY Chromosome argument that women are genetically superior to men in that they have two X chromosomes?

CMI’s Dr Robert Carter responds:

Dear R.,

Pardon the boldness of my answer, but my response is simple: “Balderdash!”

The line you are quoting comes straight out of the women’s lib movement and is not only full of invective against men, but is also full of scientific and ethnological nonsense. Back in the 70s, it was decided that the Y chromosome was a vestigial leftover, a shriveled up piece of garbage that was just hanging around in the human species. The appearance of the Y chromosome under a microscope helped that view (it is a bit crooked when condensed). Certain movers and shakers in the women’s liberation movement seized upon this and used the argument extensively to bolster their cause. What is amazing about this is that it flat out contradicts what the leading Darwinists taught for a hundred years (see The history of the teaching of human female inferiority in Darwinism), especially Darwin himself, who was quite convinced that women were evolutionarily inferior to men, and said so in print, with detailed arguments.

Today, however, we know the Y chromosome is a master control switch, affecting the expression of thousands of genes on all of the chromosomes. And, its presence is profound, as there are major physical and psychological differences between men and women, no?

The Y chromosome is much less variable than the X. Why? From an evolutionary perspective, this is supposedly because men are better at having children with multiple women (polygamy, rape, mistresses, mid-life crises) than vice versa. Thus, the “effective population size” of men is smaller and, thus, superior Y chromosomes are more successful at propagating. One could argue that the higher reproductive variance among men has led to the evolution of superior Y chromosomes. Of course, I think this is nonsense.

One could also reverse the feminist argument: Because men have more genes than women (!), one could attempt to say it is women who are less evolved or genetically inferior. This is also nonsense.

From a Christian standpoint, neither men nor women are superior to the other. Rather, they were created for different roles (in a similar way that Jesus [the Son] and God [the Father] are equal but with different roles within the Trinity). I don’t want to get into an argument about God’s design for the role of men and women in the church or in society, and I have very strong opinions, but, in God’s eyes, we have equal “worth” and equal access to Heaven and the promises made in the New Testament for believers (Galatians 3:28).

For your consideration: Does CMI think women are inferior? and The Bible’s high view of women grounded in the creation account


Dr. Robert Carter

D.B. from Australia writes:

Does science describe a human infant as first female in the womb, and later developing into male or female as the fetus grows? If so, is this contradictory to the biblical account of the origin of man and women, that women was taken from man?

Thank you for your time!
D., your brother in Christ.

CMI’s and Lita Cosner respond:

Dear D.,

Thanks for writing in. From fertilization, the new human being is genetically male (XY) or female (XX), disregarding a few exceedingly rare genetic anomalies (XXY, etc.). The embryo develops in the earliest stages in the same way regardless of the sex of the embryo, and the presence and amount of different hormones (notably testosterone) controls how the fetus develops. The notion of labeling it ‘female’ can only be defensible in the most trivial way, in that it ‘looks less male’, or put another way, the subsequent male development is a more drastic departure from the original ‘common start’ than the female. But since a male baby is exactly that from the very first, it cannot properly be called ‘female’—they just develop along the same pattern in the earliest stages, which is actually sound engineering design.

Incidentally, even if it was the other way around, we don’t see how it would contradict the order of their original creation, as that was a one-off event that is not necessarily going to be mimicked in the programming that controls human reproduction from then on. But of course that is now a moot point.


Dr Carl Wieland and Lita Cosner

Helpful Resources

The Greatest Hoax on Earth?
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Readers’ comments

Peter N.
Not sure what this was intended to mean, even after reading it a couple of times.
Correction or clarification may help.
"Today, however, we know the Y chromosome is a master control switch, affecting the expression of thousands of genes on all of the chromosomes. And, its presence is profound, as there are major physical and psychological differences between men and women, no?"
Robert Carter
I'm not sure why this is so hard to understand. As Rice and Friberg (2008) said in Science, "It is now well established that a large proportion of the genome is expressed at different levels in males and females in many organisms..." Any pattern of expression that sets up differently in males vs. females is ultimately traceable to the presence or absence of the Y chromosome. Thus, finding a "large proportion" of genes that express differentially in the two sexes indicates the "profound" effect of the Y chromosome. Or are you hesitating on my choice of grammar at the end of the quoted section. Let me rephrase: There are major physical and psychological differences between men and woman, right? (correct?, true?, no?)
Ronald M.
Really? Women are genetically different from men, superior in some ways, inferior in other ways, and vice versa.
Robert B.
"Rather, they were created for different roles (in a similar way that Jesus [the Son] and God [the Father] are equal but with different roles within the Trinity)"

Did you really mean to say this? How do you reconcile this statement with John 14:28?

"If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I."
Robert Carter
I said nothing that does not comport with standard, orthodox, Christian theology that cuts across denominational divisions and across Christian history. If you need a detailed study of the Trinity, please begin with jesus-christ-our-creator-a-biblical-defence-of-the-trinity.
Yee E.
Good way of explaining such argument. I wonder who were these women liberators you speak of?
I wonder if the Y-chromosome perish what would become of women?
Robert Carter
There were various and sundry voices back in the day that have since faded into obscurity. It would not be worth making an attempt to look them up, but I would not be surprised if some of the more prominent voices today also held such views.

Regarding the non-impending death of the Y chromosome: Within animal life the male-female riddle has been solved in different ways. Different groups have different types of sex differentiation and not all use the X-Y strategy. To an evolutionist, this is proof that species can change over time in radical ways. Thus, they have no problem seeing humans change in the future. But this is begging the question. Looking at species in existence today might give you some ideas about what happened in the past, but this is not the same thing as demonstrating the change is actually possible. Selection thresholds, deleterious mutation rates, the complexity of the genome, the complexity of sexual reproduction and cell division, etc., etc., all argue against massive change, even slow change over massive amounts of time.
Andrew H.
Are men and women created equal?
Of course they are - equally tarnished in the image of God, and equally sinners in need of salvation.
Terry P.
How can some say male genes are superior to female genes, or vice versa. The fact is that without the symbiotic male-female reproductive system there would no male/female children to grow up and have children. Moreover, if the genes of either male and/or female are biologically flawed, the reproductive process fails.
Joseph Allen K.
I did some reading about COLOR-BLINDNESS and was surprised to read that a whopping 18% of humans suffer from some form of color-blindness.

Moreover, I read that, because of the XY chromosome, about 90% of the color-blindness occurs in males.

So, do you agree that when it comes to color-blindness, the XY chromosome puts males at a disadvantage vis-a-vis the female's XX chromosome ... ???

Thanks in advance for your time and expertise.
Robert Carter
Yes, in a limited sense, males are at a disadvantage due to the fact that they only carry one X chromosome. But does that makes them genetically inferior to women? Not any more than having an extra chromosome (the Y) would make them genetically superior to women.
Alan H.
I find it highly amusing (from a hypocritical standpoint) that the proponents of the equality/sex/gender/diversity/multiculturalism agendas cannot see the contradictions from the herd of elephants in their own room.

To the modern equivalent of witchfinder generals who sieve every statement for some capital PC offence in order to burn someone in the public square. My position on race etc is that I am a member of the human race. To which race do you belong?
Robert S.
Regarding genetic superiority; neither is superior if one cannot exist without the other.

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