A thousand tiny 'sexes' or none?

Sandford, Stella (2019) A thousand tiny 'sexes' or none? Sluice Magazine,

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Abstract

In the history of botany the late-eighteenth-century discovery and scientific acceptance of ‘sexuality’ in plants is usually understood as a move from a mere analogy between human and plant to the literal ascription of sex to plants. In subsequent years not only plants but also algae, fungi and bacteria would also be sexed according to the same model. But what does this really entail? This article argues that our tendency to take the large vertebrate mammals (like ourselves) as models when thinking about sex provides a reductive, dimorphic conception of ‘the sexes’ which may not be appropriate for other forms of life. When sexuality is extended to plants, algae, fungi and bacteria the basic male/female binary of the large vertebrate model is also carried over, but what if, instead, the sex-changing fish or the multiplicity of fungal mating types were our model for ‘sex’?

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This work was supported by a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship, for the project 'Sex Division in Natural History'.
Research Area: Philosophy
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP)
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Depositing User: Stella Sandford
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2020 10:56
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2020 10:44
URI: http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/id/eprint/44843

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