Is there scientific evidence to prove that women are more maternal than man? According to recent discoveries by researchers at the LSU Department of Biological Sciences, that may be correct.
In a recent study about mice, Ryoichi Teruya, an associate professor at LSU, and his students found that oxytocin activates a specific group of cells in the female mouse brains which is not present in the male mouse brains. Student co-author Ryan LeBlanc used a red pen to meticulously locate each and every oxytocin receptor cell. This research aided greatly in their new discoveries. Oxytocin is seen as a hormone that induces maternal behavior or “love”. This new discovery seems to emphasize that these certain oxytocin receptor cells are only present when estrogen is present. Thus, only women have this maternal instinct. Teruya explains the importance of his study as “[m]any researchers have attempted to investigate the difference between the oxytocin system in females versus males, but no one has successfully found conclusvie evidence until now. Our discovery was a big surprise.” Apparently, the idea that women have an inherent maternal instinct is not just a joke anymore.
This discovery has actually opened the door for many new possible inventions and findings. Mothers with post-partum depression can now potentially have treatments to induce their oxytocin receptor cells in order to help them parent their children better. This would be an extreme breakthrough as children growing up with depressed mothers have many negative effects on their growth development.
As a feminist, I can’t help but wonder if this discovery will only further perpetuate the notion of seperate spheres between men and women where women should stay at home and become a caregiver as their main job. While the idea behind the results of these findings troubles me, I am hopeful about the possible new treatments for post-partum depression as about 10 to 20 percent of women experience this after giving birth. It is interesting to think about husbands who are more maternal than their wives and how that contradicts these findings.