February 26, 2013
Fighting Over Asian Women’s Small Breasts
Try to fight is as we may, in the end, much of what makes us who we are comes down to simple evolution. Even more troubling, some of these evolutionary changes may be the direct result of basic and instinctual needs, like staying warm during the winter or populating the earth by doing “it.”
According to some new research and commentary, this phenomenon may have been observed, as it often the case, by fidgeting with some rat DNA.
Yana G. Kamberov and Pardis C. Sabeti from the Broad Institute of Cambridge, Mass. have identified the specific gene responsible for some distinguishable traits in East Asian women; specifically thick hair, identifiable teeth, and small breasts.
According to this research, the gene responsible for this trait mutated some 35,000 years ago and manifested itself thanks to “natural selection,” or as one unaffiliated geneticist suggests, “sexual selection.”
It wouldn’t be science without some lively debate, of course, and this study has more than its fair share.
The gene has been identified as EDAR, and while Africans and Europeans also bear this gene, the specific mutation in question responsible for thick hair and small chests manifests itself in East Asians. The Cambridge researchers ran some tests on some rats, threw a few genetic switches to replicate this mutation and found that these mice also developed thicker hair and smaller breasts. Their hypothesis had been proven.
Another scientist, geneticist Joshua Akey with the University of Washington in Seattle, suggested to Nicholas Wade of the New York Times, who reported on this study, that EDAR spread so rapidly through East Asia because the men of the area just so happened to find these traits sexually appealing. According to Dr. Akey, the thick hair and small breasts of Asia are the blue eyes and blonde hair of Europe; strong sexual signals that dominate the lady landscape. The New York Times article quickly moves on from Dr. Akey’s sexual selection suggestion and comments on a third point of view, suggesting that these traits were simply necessary for survival all those thousands of years ago.
Sex is a major stopping point for some, however, and Slate writer Katy Waldman had some major concerns with this suggestion, calling it a “Dingbat sexual selection theory.” Apparently Waldman takes issue with the fact that Wade even mentioned sexual selection as a possible reason for this EDAR mutation, saying his article “derails” once the sexual selection notion hits the page.
“Oops, I’d forgotten that science, the world, etc., revolves around what males find attractive. Never mind that this assumes an alarming passivity on the part of the females. Did they have no say in their mating partner?” asks Waldman.
And it’s a good question that Waldman backs up with statements from other geneticists. This is, of course, after Waldman points out that the original paper written by poor Kamberov and Sabeti “largely avoids speculating” about how this genetic mutation was spread. I say “poor Kamberov and Sabeti,” because suddenly their research isn’t about discovering that genes can be mutated specific to different regions and at which point in the evolutionary timeline this mutation occurred.
No, Wade gave a single paragraph to a geneticist who said “sex” (a paragraph which doesn’t alter the outcome of the article) and now the debate is about something else entirely.
Waldman makes very good points and backs them up with what seems to be solid research. However, it’s hard to see Wade’s article as a suggestion that Asian women have small breasts because their men preferred them.
Image Credit: Photos.com