Mackenzie Hughes ’25
Someone who gets distracted in class thinking about what gender parts of the cell are
If the cell’s powerhouse has any gender, it’s female. The thing that’s responsible for generating most of the chemical energy needed to power the cell’s biomechanical reactions ain’t gonna be a man. Maybe Ariana Grande will come out with a new song after I DM this article to her called “The Mitochondria is a Woman.” I think it sends a beautiful message to young women that what makes growth, movement, and homeostasis possible are girl bosses. I barely passed 7th-grade bio, but I think that makes sense. I will hence attempt to gender some other proteins and whatnot. Forgive me if I don’t give them as accurate an identity as possible. They are, after all, cells. Don’t even get me started on the plasma membrane—it basically serves as a womb protecting the cell. The peroxisome, on the other hand, is for sure a guy. In complicated terms, they sequester diverse oxidative reactions and play important roles in metabolism, reactive oxygen species detoxification, and signaling. If I were to mansplain this for my women readers, basically, they break down energy and produce waste. If this function doesn’t acutely demonstrate masculinity, I don’t know what does. I watched a Harvard video recently entitled “The Inner Life of the Cell” because this is what Holy Cross students choose to do in their free time. There was this model that the narrator referred to as a “fella.” To accurately depict what this looked like, it’s a little tube on a pathway holding up a globe of molecules. I’m sorry, but if there’s going to be any protein that looks like it’s supporting the weight of the world, it has to be female. No man, respectfully, should be supporting anything necessary for human life. This little lass has got big gains, and she’s a beast. I also understand ferritin protein to be feminine, but for controversial reasons. It’s found inside the cells that store iron and is necessary for healthy red blood cells. Where is iron found? Eggs and some rich-in-fat milk. What are eggs and milk used for? Baking bread. So by very, very loosey-goosey logic, ferritin is involved with domestic work, unfortunately, associated with women. Proteins like hemoglobin and myoglobin get a little challenging. It it for this reason that we shall deem them non-binary because not all aspects of life need to claim an identity. The whole idea of DNA transcription gives the impression of one big rainbow pride flag—a spectacular array of things working together in harmony no matter what their function is. Despite their differences in structure and base, DNA and RNA can still perform such a miraculous task. I bet the old European white men didn’t account for this when they were exploring the cell. If I had to invent a protein, I would name it “gynein” and give it a super big position, like defending the cell or something that a cell I would assume is traditionally considered male would do. The prefix gyne means female in Latin, so whenever you think of this function, you are reminded of the kind of power women can achieve. I’m sure a male protein could be useful in some situations, maybe for sports or something, but I’m not prepared to discuss those now. So, next time you think about how tired you are hiking up Mount St. James, remember your little nuclei gals are working hard.
Photo courtesy of Technology Networks