Annotation: The Egg and the Sperm

Annotation: The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance  Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles

In Emily Martin’s piece, “The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles”, Martin takes on the task of explaining how our foundation of thinking about the interaction between the egg and the sperm is influenced by by culture and as a result produces theories that reinforce the results. She begins with the idea that “biology relies on stereotypes central to our cultural definitions of male and female” in order to emphasize that biological research depends on our cultural understanding of male and female interactions (pg 485). As Martin delves into this thought, she uncovers how research has no “enthusiasm” for the active role that the egg takes in gamete fusion (pg. 486). On the other hand, the sperm production process is seen as maturing and “remarkable” as it is “productive” compared to the egg's “destructive” process (pg. 486). This is similar to Simone de Beauvoir idea of the man taking on the positive and the neutral presence in society while women take on the negative role in relation to men. Sadly, this portrayal of the sperm and the egg have continued in new research but with more aggressive words that paint a picture of the “sperm penetrating the egg” in an act of conquering (pg. 492). This wrongfully legitimizes the horrendous idea of sexual activity being an action done to someone rather than a mutual thing. From Martin’s article, it is clear our understanding of biology and culture work in tandem to legitimize each other, however these create systems of oppression through hierarchy and power as acts are done to others and not mutual. For this to end, does intervention of research methods begin biologically, culturally, or in both areas of inquiry.