Saturday, 26 December 2015

pride of lions or queens and toms

As first seen on The Queen is not Amused, researchers have found lionesses in Botswana that have evolved to express more traits, like the mane, colouring and roar, of their male counterparts—perhaps to better protect their families from potential abusive mates or perhaps to sneak up on prey, since it is the females that do the lion’s share of the hunting and a lithe gazelle might not be so quick to react to a marauding but outwardly loutish lion.

The term evolution is put out there but it is more environmental influences in utero that is producing masculine cubs, so maybe cultivation is a better word. Nature is forever springing surprises and animal sexuality has been shown to be successively as varied and nuanced as our own, and many populations—under duress—have willed themselves gender-reassignments in order to continue the species. Who knew, however, that gender roles and those mantles of authority were just as variable and not well understood—even for creatures that we would not count as liberated? We’re not so clever as we’d like to believe—confident that a rooster would never allow a hen to crow at the sunrise, and I wonder if we’ll ever be compelled to drop gendered naming-conventions, as masters and husbanders, like lioness, nag, jack and jenny.