Emily Martin

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Emily Martin: The Egg and the Sperm
It is human nature to place confidence into science because it is heavily researched and perceived as the truth. However, Emily Martin shows that the female role in the reproductive process is not thoroughly depicted. Martin said, “part of my goal in writing this article is to shine a bright light on the gender stereotypes hidden within the scientific language of biology.” This article demonstrates how the female role in the reproductive cycle is just as insistent, if not more, as the male’s role. Emily Martin proposes that science defines women as having a non-active and less significant role in the reproductive process. The role in which women play in the cycle of life is depicted through science as far more passive function than that of the male. The egg is seen as passive. It does not move and is transported along the fallopian tube. In contrast, sperm are seen as active. They deliver their genes to the egg and development starts. Martin quotes Gerald Schatten and Helen Schatten in that the egg acts as a Sleeping Beauty, “a dormant bride awaiting her mate’s magic kiss, which instills spirit that brings her to life”, while the sperm is on a “mission” to “move through the female genital tract in quest of the ovum.” However, through recent research, scientist concluded that the egg performs several functions and is quite active itself in the reproductive process. Before this research it was thought that sperm were powerful penetrators capable of thrusting itself through the inner vestments of the egg. After much research, scientists in biophysics labs at Johns Hopkins University determined that the propelling force of the sperm is very weak, and that only through the adhesive molecules on the egg and sperm do the two stick. The zona acts as a “sperm catcher” and has to “capture and tether” the sperm before it can penetrate. But the most active and interesting roll the egg plays is that it “serves as a sophisticated...
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