MANILA, December 4, 2003 (STAR) DE RERUM NATURA By Maria Isabel Garcia - If men are "descending," biologically speaking, as convincingly put forth by geneticist Steve Jones in his book Y The Descent of Men, which I have written about a few months back, are women "ascending"? It is a valid question.

Life is a product of creative tensions between opposites: Yin and Yang, Negative and Positive, Up and Down. So that if the other is spiraling down, the other, by necessity, should be spinning up, to keep life going. Reading the "Y" book, I found myself reading faster than I normally do and saying "yeah, yeah, skip, skip," since they were filled with things about men we women have intuitively known all along but which now have gained scholarly legitimacy, being peer-reviewed and all, as good science requires. So I came out of the book with a bit of an insight: "Men," human "Ys," are lost, wandering around saying "Oops" most of the time, spiraling down, because they have yet to be the Indiana Joneses of the mystery of the X territories they seem to be so in love with.

This mystery involves an intimate geography of the other world, the world of the "X," of women. I came across a good book, sort of a map for the X geography, and it is by Natalie Angier, Pulitzer Prize winner. Entitled WOMAN, An Intimate Geography (Anchor Books, NY 2000), I figured I would trek the geography it has drawn Ė starting points, driving roads, cities, columns, fountains and bridges Ė and share it with you, Xs and Ys alike. Two for the road. For those Ys wary of yet another feminist attack on your "Oops-hood," hey, what could be worse than your own documented genetic descent by a Y himself who was Steve Jones? Besides, I promise to drive carefully and show you worthy science highlights.

First, let us get the record straight on who really has the main exploration map containing the directions: is it the X or the Y chromosome? To answer this, you have to drastically rid yourselves of the unappetizing "Adamís Rib" from the menu of starting points because it is a guarantee for circuitous driving at the very least and terrible pit stops that sport boring and tedious company along the way. You only have to hear stories about Xs who endured lifelong "invisibility" at the back of the car of life because they were told that "Y" is natureís designated driver. Well, science comes in with the surprise: the "egg" came first and it was female and it is not because a feminist came out holding one, insisting so. Nature is predisposed to spring forth female fetuses until something happens along the way and the X is activated to "modify" and respond to androgens, a Y hormone, which makes for a "son," instead of a "daughter." The "X" then is not the baby back rib of "Y." Even the irrelevant rules of the alphabet here can clue you in on which letter comes first and I bet it was due to a womanís subtle influence! The Y cannot be a "Y" by itself because chromosomically speaking, a man needs the womanís permission to be a "man." So there, Adam, you are welcome. You can keep your rib because we gave it to you.

Now, there will be those of you who will engage in small talk while on the trek that Xs are what Angier was afraid may be called "chromosomal bores." This is loosely based on the observation that it is the "Y" chromosome that gives life variety given that the default settings of life are females or "X, X." There is a danger if you act on this observation alone. You see, if the X lets the Y assume the driving with what it knows, ALL of lifeís bountiful and interesting geography, will cover the equivalent of about three lousy fast-food burger chains and three fuel-cum-pee stops. This is because the X chromosome has about 3,600 to 5,000 genes compared to well about 24 to 36 (yes, no "0s" after) genes in the Y. And bio-chemically speaking, genes are the details, the wondrous details that make up the architecture of human life. So between an "X" who is loaded with more driving directions and the "Yā" who is so much more depaupered of the same, why give him the wheel? And even if the X is feeling so generous and tutoring, why is it that the "Y," in its obvious lost state, still refuses to ask for directions? Sheesh...

Now for the cities in the geography where romance does not necessarily circle but where the fire of the X and Y company is set ablaze. In other words, the sexual act. I do not have the luxury of space here or the desire right now to cause my conservative friends and relatives to drop their chinaware or revise their opinions of my daring in writing by detailing the anatomical map of a womanís pleasure. Angier was so eloquent and I cannot do better. I just enjoyed the way she meandered through that labyrinth of joy and mystery in saying that south of a womanís terrain lies a Greek column, which is both the "wick of Eros" and the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. I prefer the "wick of Eros" to the Greek column metaphor. I think it is a bad call to treat the womanís column as a historic site of glorious albeit fossilized ruin. Because that center of pleasure is not only alive, it is wired! No less than 8,000 nerves inhabit it (more than any other part of the body; even the Apollo "Y" equivalent has only half of those nerves, despite its claimed ever-readiness for "battle"). A Helen wired that way, in contact with the right elements, is weapon-grade plutonium that could launch all the ships in all the ports, and make them all come back, and never be the same. And why Bach? Angier says and I agree: because it is beautiful and we are grateful it is there and we do not care how it got there. It is that point south of the X map that is not necessary in the journey for life. It is there for the sole and exclusive purpose of pleasure and pleasure is not necessary to conceive children. In the 17th century, even before Freud with all his mumbo-jumbo about all of our thoughts having basis in sex, scientists (all Ys at that time) interested in the X geography, could not avoid this beautiful erotic fountain in the Xís map that Angier uncovered their conclusion in these exact words. They simply said, "No alternative sites were proposed."

I imagined those 17th century Y scientists cloaked in robes of high scholarship and claimed objectivity, peering over their reading glasses and declaring in unison: "No alternative sites were proposed." It is as if they have finally homed in on the general area of the Holy Grail of a womanís intimate geography, called for back-up references followed by a press conference. Well, guess what, here is 21st century knowledge for them: That beautiful intimate southern place is not an independent republic! It is intimately, complicatedly, connected to Motherland: her brain! Unlike in the Y flight path where Apollo does not always care what Houston says, the Xs are fully coordinated. It is as Angier says a "delicate negotiation," a sailing, through stormy and calm seas, "between the neocortex and primal parts of the brain, intellect and desire." Unless Ys are willing to sail these waves that connect what the X is with what she has, the Ys can always anchor but there will be no real siren songs. Why do you think it is possible for Xs to fake their siren songs? It is because the Xís pleasure does not only count on the Yís ability to anchor. It also has to do with her mastery of her own will and what she is about when she is with a Y. So Xs, I hope the science of woman-ness reminds you of some facts and connections about the X piece of the map of life. And Ys, hereís hoping the same will make you think twice before singing that song that goes "Donít know much about geography, donít know much about history, donít know much about science books," thinking it is endearing to Xs. And by the way, simply pinpointing location is not geography. You cannot pursue mystery if you are not curious and do not respect facts and connections, and facts and connections are the business of science. We Xs are science and more. We Xs want you Ys to know about geography, history and science or their equivalent in the unique passions of your minds and be equally interested in ours as well. We Xs are science, we Xs are geography, we Xs are arts. We are old-timers. We were Eves before any Adams. We are not spiraling up but staying and claiming our rightful place. But if you Ys donít shape up and reverse your descent, we shall be looking down at you with a sigh, saying, "There he goes again, refusing to ask for directions."

* * *

For comments, e-mail

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved