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Origin of symbol[edit]

The article explains that the symbols for female/male 'are (probably) derived from contractions in Greek script of the Greek names of these planets, namely Thouros (Mars) and Phosphoros (Venus)', but underneath the image of the symbol at the top of the page it says 'The hand mirror and comb of the Roman goddess Venus is often used to represent the female sex.' Should one of these be changed? (I have no idea which is the true origin). (talk) 16:07, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Since the Symbol section has references and the caption under the image doesn't, can we just change the caption to agree with the Symbol section?Sylvia A (talk) 10:01, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

Why are Females Usually Smaller?[edit]

Does anybody know? Blamblamblam 02:35, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

I don't know why in humans (and manny other mammals) the female is statistically smaller, but I'd like to point that this is far from universal, and the reverse is true in lots of species. I'ts for example, very common in arachnids and, if you'd preffer a vertebrate example, in bids of prey. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:57, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
It's because mammals have more immuno-active proteins than other taxa where females are usually bigger. While this is actually true for both sexes, it only presents a reproductive problem in females. In any given female, the inner part of the vagina has about as many antibodies and other immunoproteins as any other internal organ. Although these proteins are supposed to kill parasitic bacteria (that's why they evolved), they can also kill sperm, which are cells from another individual. So, given that taller women have longer vaginas based on the same general bodily proportions, if a very short man marries (or otherwise does something unethical with) a very tall woman, the sperm have a relatively longer part of their journey to be vulnerable to immunoproteins. This is the evolutionary reason for the general but not absolute relative shortness of female humans, and similar explanations could be provided for females of other mammalian species and taxa. The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 05:27, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Male and Female[edit]

I am struck by the assymmetry between this page and male...perhaps female should also be a disambig page on that model? But I'm not feeling quite that bold today.--Sharkford 19:01, 2004 Sep 28 (UTC)

Yeah, well? Build up some endurance then, you wussy ;) Although I don't understand what's so troublin' with those articles havin' to be SIMILIAR just'cuz their polarized opposites of each-other...and as'fer'e disaumbigation...well, hate to tell ya, BRO, but I HATE'RAT IDEA..'cuz wha? Cuz'shwela! It fit's better as a seperate article, perhaps 'gender', leadin' to'rem - 'rese gender's.--OleMurder 16:48, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

Determining femininity[edit]

Since this article state this: "It should be noted that there is no single genetic mechanism behind femaleness in different species, thus it is defined in terms of outer forms, not genetically."

...Maybe results for new scientific should be somehow included in this article? See also:

Chromosome study shows male and female genetic differences:

"We now know that 25 per cent of the X chromosome - some 200 to 300 genes - can be uniquely expressed in one sex relative to the other. In essence, therefore, there is not one human genome, but two - male and female," Professor Willard said."

But I'm no biologist or anyone else having very much insight into definition questions etc, so I'm not going to touch this for now. I felt these are quite important scientific breakthroughs though.--Jugalator 20:33, Mar 17, 2005 (UTC)

Jugalator, I am a biologist albeit a 2nd (now going into 3rd) Year Undergraduate Biology Major. The true definition of a female, based on everything I've been taught in both high school and college, is any multicellular organism who produces 1 true gamete and 3 polar cells for each germ (ancestral) cell used in meiosis, and does so exclusively (that last part basically just means simultaneous hermaphrodites are not females). In case this needs further clarification, polar cells either lack cytoplasm entirely or have very little of it, and so they are basically plasma membranes wrapped immediately around the nuclear membrane. In most dioecious (male/female divided) species, polar cells are sterile, and are basically trash bins for extra DNA (so as to make the egg, which is the aforementioned 1 true gamete, haploid).
This is not an "outer" form in the sense of something that can be seen with a naked eye, but it is a taxonomically universal definition for the word "female."
For the record, the true definition of a male is any multicellular organism who produces 4 true gametes and 0 polar cells per germ cell used in meiosis, and does so exclusively (as thus defined, simultaneous hermaphrodites are also not males).
I digress. The sexes are defined, universally, in terms of cytoplasmic distribution. For sterile individuals, we can determine whether they should have been 4:0 or 1:3 based on the genetic or environmental sex-determining scheme of the particular species. For humans, this means the presence (male) or absence (female) of the SRY Masculation Gene, which is normally (IE in all fertile males) located on the Y Chromosome. The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 00:00, 2 May 2010 (UTC)

Extraterrestrial joke[edit]

One more thing, what the heck is the part about extraterrestrials doing here? Is female extraterrestrials definitely called "women" and must be mentioned here, or is it some kind of weird joke in an encyclopedia?--Jugalator 20:35, Mar 17, 2005 (UTC)

Perhaps the wikipedia really is malecheuvenistic? Cone-spir-acy, con-spire-acy!--OleMurder 20:48, 6 February 2006 (UTC)


I removed the following:

Female is actually the the "default" sex for a developing organism: unless the male chromosome is present, the organism will develop as a female. In humans, most females' sex chromosomes are XX, whereas those of a male are XY, "Y" being the male chromosome.

The mistakes are too complex to change easily.

  • "Default" sex can also be interpreted hormonally. It's a complex issue even in mammals, and it doesn't generalize at all.
  • XX/XY chromosome determination is mammalian. In birds, males are homochromosomal (ZZ, if I remember correctly, and females are ZW), in fruit flies, males have one X and females have two, and in many organisms there is no chromosomal sex determination. Even in mammals, it is not the chromosome, but rather the genes it contains, and one theory is that because full sex expression involves several genes, the X and Y differentiated as a result of selection against crossing over.

An article about chromosomal sex determination might be worthwhile, and it could be linked from this article.--Curtis Clark 00:33, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

On the other hand, "Usually all females of a species have certain chromosomes present or missing that make them female." is clearly wrong, except possibly in one specific interpretation. It all hinges on the word "usually". According to biomass, organisms are usually plants, where sex chromosomes are so rare as to warrant publications. In terms of higher taxa, organisms are usually protists, again with few cases of sex chromosomes. In the case of species, organisms are usually beetles, and if beetles have the same sex determination as fruit flies (I don't know), then perhaps the statement could be true. And I did look up sex-determination system, which deals with sex chromosomes. --Curtis Clark 01:43, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

Okay, let's clear up the facts on this page so no one adds incorrect information to the actual article. Note that the below apply only to animals because gender distinctions in plants are nearly impossible to draw except in a very limited number of species and all but impossible outside of the plant and animal kingdoms.

  • Female is the "default" sex for humans and other mammals. Until hormones begin acting to cause "maleness" during early embryological development, all embryos are morphologically female. Whether that actually makes them female is debatable, but it is true that the penis develops from an infolding that could be considered a "proto-vagina", if you will. I honestly don't know how the determination of sex works in development in non-mammals.
  • While mammals use the XX-XY system for sex determination, this is not by any means the dominant system for gender determination. Birds use ZZ(male)-ZW(female). Most insects use X(male)-XX(female). Male bees and ants in most species are haploid while their female and asexual counterparts are diploid. In the mammal Tympanoctomys barrerae, or red viscacha rat, the system is XXXY(male)-XXXX(female) because the entire species is tetraploid instead of diploid. In short, XX-XY is a naive and narrow definition of maleness and femaleness that only applies to (most) mammals.

Hope that clears things up. —Cuiviénen (Cuivië) 01:53, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

No mention of humans[edit]

How about some mention of humans? Like maybe something about how human females are generally called women?

It seems to me that's well-covered in the "See also", with links to full articles on the subjects.--Curtis Clark 15:27, 21 December 2005 (UTC)


First listed in most wanted stubs, this article's scope is not wide enough. See "What links here" :

Etc, etc, etc...

(950 links; Also, I cant't tell the order links are listed with.)

May I suggest a "See also" section to the most prominent subjects ? --DLL 10:22, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
Please see my comment on The male's talk-page.--Curtis Clark 17:39, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

Something still amiss in the description of bird chromosomes. I think it should be that male birds are homochromosomal (?), since they have identical sex chromosomes, right? Csari 13:18, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

Fixed.--Curtis Clark 17:41, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

"Sexual identities" template[edit]

I think this is extraordinarily POV for an article about females among all organisms, since it is clearly meant to be about humans only (although parts of it are perhaps applicable to other mammals). If it were an article on sexual identity, I'd have no objection at all, but the template dominates Female by its size, and makes the article even more human-centric.--Curtis Clark 04:37, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

Not all females are mammals[edit]

I think the section on Mammalian female belongs in Mammal, not here. Unless I hear any objections, I'll move in in a few days.--Curtis Clark 04:46, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

If your're going to have a section on female mammals then you would have to have one on every phylum where the organisms can be females. So it's best not to have a mammalian section. As a bio major, I know all too well that not every female organism is mammalian. Darthgriz98 04:51, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
I never said that every female was mammalian. I just was pointing out the things that make mammalian females unique. --Luigifan 12:18, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
There are things that make Ascomycota females unique, too. Should we mention them here or in Ascomycota?--Curtis Clark 20:34, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
Mention them here. I don't have a clue what you're talking about. --Luigifan 20:46, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
That's why I provided a wikilink.--Curtis Clark 22:27, 18 November 2006 (UTC)


Why isn't there mention that device connectors (that plug into sockets) are referrred to as 'male', and the receptacles are labelled 'female'? Mr.bonus 23:59, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

See Female (disambiguation). Bennyboyz3000 08:06, 7 February 2007 (UTC)


I find in older (19th century) journals different symbols for female. Sometimes the current symbol is used upside down; more often, the male symbol is used but opinting in the opposite direction ("southwest" instead of "northeast". Clearly the present convention is not as old as it appears. But I am unable to find good info about the history of the symbols; the sources I come up with read as if the current symbols have been used alsways, which is clearly wrong. Dysmorodrepanis 22:45, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

I believe Linnaeus used symbols the same as the modern ones in his works from the 18th C. I wonder if the 19th C. variations aren't the result of the typesetter not having the right sort and substituting.--Curtis Clark 00:28, 15 January 2007 (UTC)


"The American Heritage Dictionary and the Random House Dictionary are not completely clear on this point, which is a sensitive point: it is hard to find neutral terms for women performing jobs once reserved for men, because these women generally insist that they belong there; and many other people—including some women—insist that they do not."

something about that seems wrong, weasel words maybe? (talk) 18:19, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

"The word female is generally considered neutral when used as an adjective; when used as a noun, it is often regarded as derogatory." I had no idea that was the case, and I am a female. I've always thought it was dry and neutral. Citations? (talk) 00:04, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

"it is hard to find neutral terms for women performing jobs once reserved for men, because these women generally insist that they belong there; and many other people—including some women—insist that they do not."

What? Was this Wikipedia article written in the 60's? (talk) 19:50, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

Definately an unclear sentence. What are "they" - the women (in the jobs), the neutral or 'biased' terms (in the description), or something else entirely?
Also: "The word female is generally considered neutral when used as an adjective; when used as a noun, it is often regarded as derogatory." is there any citation for this, or is it just something thrown in? Personally, I've never heard such a distinction, so I find this hard to include without appropriate sourcing. Biccat (talk) 16:08, 13 May 2008 (UTC)


-"In human beings, only the female is capable of complete consumption of the male's soul. They have been known to this very often and without mercy." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:52, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

It's obviously vandalism (with some truth to it I must add), please delete it and move on. (talk) 00:25, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

Vestigal mammary glands in males?[edit]

Personally, I would argue that they are not vestigial in males but simply inactive. Vestigial means "seemingly lost all or most of the original function". This is not accurate for the mammary glands in males. Given the proper hormones and/or stimulation, the glands do become active and do produce milk. I'd change it, but I'm not sure if this level of nitpicking is worth editing the article over. I mean, ultimately it's a matter of semantics. Still, my opinion is that it's inaccurate. (talk) 12:46, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

We males do have breast fat (but normally and hopefully not as much), but I would not necessarily classify what are embedded in the fat as true mammary glands, even inactive ones. Contrary to popular belief, males who develop feminine-looking breasts (such as those who abuse hormonal treatments as you mentioned, and I've heard this in passing about males who smoke marijuana) still can't actually produce milk, no matter how girl-like their breasts look to the eye.
You are right that these structures are not evolutionary vestiges, as milk production has always been a female function. For each individual male, however, they are remnants of the fact that the embryo, when developing genitals and mammary glands shortly after the Blastular Stage, builds they same initial morphology for both sexes, despite the fact that it is already one sex or the other based on the presence (male) or absence (female) of the SRY Masculation Gene (normally located on the Y Chromosome, it produces a sterilizing mutation if it translocates). This initial morphology may well be itself an evolutionary vestige of the fact that the Class Mammalia diverged from the Class Reptilia during the Triassic Period. Most reptiles determine sex by differences in incubation temperature (IE the slightly colder eggs in a given nest will hatch sons, and the slightly warmer eggs will hatch daughters, or vice versa), not by chromosomal makeup as we mammals do. So, it would make sense for them all to have the same pre-genital morphology in early post-blastular embryonic growth. The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 05:54, 18 April 2010 (UTC)


The lead sentence reads

Female (♀) is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, which produces mobile ova (egg cells).

Shouldn't that be immobile? Or is it some technical distinction between mobile and motile, which is used just after? Rojomoke (talk) 14:25, 15 November 2009 (UTC)

Meant: Fetal development[edit]

I actually meant that females develop as a fetus before males. When the Y chromosome kicks in males start off as female. Thats why men have nipples. Pass a Method talk 12:07, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

And you are not exactly correct on that, per commentary made in this discussion regarding fetal development. And either way, what is meant should always be clear and that text, as I noted in my edit summary to you, is not WP:LEAD-compliant (in this case meaning that not only is it not important to the lead, it is currently not discussed lower in the article).
And so that this discussion section is clearer as to what it is about, I added on ": Fetal development" to the heading. Flyer22 (talk) 12:15, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
To make the fetal development matter even clearer: The sex is initially undifferentiated. While initially developing, it resembles a form that is more closely female than male and will (usually) become female without the Y chromosome, but it doesn't truly start out as female. Flyer22 (talk) 12:29, 23 September 2013 (UTC)