Controlling Sex


I always looked forward to a visit by Felix Gautier, because when he was excited fireworks shot from his eyes and the tips of his waxed moustache vibrated so quickly that they virtually sparkled.  Gautier was usually excited, but tonight in addition to his agitation there seemed a triumphant air.


“Lapius,” he asked, “Have you read the papers?”


“Of course I read the papers.  Come, Gautier, upstairs to the chess room.”


“Chess we can play later.  There are more important things to discuss than gambits.”


“Felix,” Lapius said kindly, “I don’t invite you over to listen to your vapid chatter.  I invite you to play chess, because that is what you do best.”


“But Simon, take a few minutes to celebrate.  Women are finished, gone.  And medical science has done it.  I salute you Simon.”


Lapius turned to me.  “Harry, what the deuce is he talking about?”


Gautier overheard.  “Simon, Simon.  Didn’t you read that they have found a way of separating sperm with only Y chromosomes, the male sperm, from those with X and Y chromosomes, that will produce  females as well as males?”


“As a matter of fact, I hadn’t heard that.  Tell me about it.”


“It’s very simple, Simon.  A.M. Roberts, of Guys Hospital, London discovered that the X chromo­some contains slightly more DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) than the Y chromosome.  Thus the sperm carrying the X chromosome is heavier than the sperm carrying the Y or male chromosome.           


Lapius looked at him blankly.  “Really Gautier, does it matter?  After all, the chess boards are set up.”


“Aha,” Gautier said to me triumphantly, “The great Lapius doesn’t understand the significance of that little piece of information.  Do you Simon?”


“I am afraid that I do not really care about it, Gautier.”


“Are you going to filibuster me or permit me to continue?”  Gautier asked indignantly.  “After all, I am a guest in your home.”


“Continue, Gautier,” Lapius said resignedly, leaning back and closing his eyes.


“The point is, Harry,” Gautier continued, turning his attention to me, ignoring the sleeping Lapius, “The point is that the lighter male sperm can swim faster than the heavier sperm carrying the X or female chromosome.  Don’t you see what that means?”  I shook my head dumbly.  “It means,” continued Gautier, “that scientists at Schering in Germany were able to develop a viscous solution that would inhibit the ‘female’ sperm from swimming through it, while the male sperm had an easier time of it.  Thus, at the other end of the solution there were more YY male sperms than YX  sperms that could produce females.  Do you realize what this means?  We can populate the world with men.  Think what this will do to women’s lib.  The collective female ego will be destroyed.  For the first time we have the potential to eliminate the race of women from the earth.”


“It is sure more refined than leaving baby girls out on the rocks to die, like they used to do,” I agreed.


“We will produce men only,” Gautier exulted.


Lapius opened his eyes a crack.  “From whom?” he asked dryly.


“Don’t worry, we’ll find a way.”


Lapius sat up.  “The trouble with you Gautier, is that you always sell science short.  After all, one of the first rules is that for every force there is an equal and opposite force.  While the Germans were creating statistically higher yields of male sperm, here in America a group at Sloan-Kettering were able to use a natural antibody against male sperm that female mice developed, and were thus able to reduce the population of male sperm considerably.”


“What good would that do, Lapius?  Do we need more women?”  Gautier was partially supporting two ex-wives, which accounted for his bitterness.


“Well, we could have more cows and less bull, or more chickens and less crowing, more sows and fewer pigs, the male chauvinist kind, that is.”


“Bah, Lapius, science is dabbling in frivolous things.”




“I came over to play chess, Simon.  Let’s go upstairs.”