The Weekly Chirp: Female power

Human history owes its success to women. While historically not occupying traditionally powerful roles, women have always held the true power in families and social groups, which are ultimately the major factors leading to the perseverance of our species. With the rise of the feminist movement and younger, more progressive generations, this power is finally becoming recognized publicly. My mom is the bread-winner in my family. Female senators are no longer a surprise to the public. Women in science are revolutionizing the field. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the presidential election but unjustly suffered from the outdated rules of old white men. I can’t wait to see where women take our world once all the sexist, racist, idiotic baby boomers finally die out — why is it taking so long?

Females in the bird world wield similar amounts of power, if not more. For a classic example of females dominating an avian population, simply look at the phalaropes. The phalaropes’ three species — Wilson’s, red-necked and red — are mainly pelagic shorebirds, meaning they spend their non-breeding time at sea. Phalaropes also differ from the rest of the avian kingdom in a fascinating way: reverse sexual dimorphism. In other words, female phalaropes are the brightly-colored ones, not the males, and the females court the males. That’s right, the spectacular females compete in these elaborate dances attempting to win over a drab, white male. And then once they mate, the female still does all the reproductive labor. As is the case for humans, males are only useful once during ovulation for about three seconds.

Even though most female birds are dull and don’t partake in courtship, they still hold the true power. Male orange-collared manakins, after spotting a female, will put up chaotic displays in a whiz of fiery orange, all competing for a couple seconds of attention from the female. Males from other species, like the screaming piha in the Amazon, will choose high, open branches from which to display — a phenomenon known as lek. Upon the arrival of a female, the male piha will display from his lek while other males display from theirs, allowing the female to choose her preferred male. Meanwhile, the female can just sit back, relax and watch the hopeless males desperately compete. At the end of all their effort, the female doesn’t even have to choose a male — she can just fly away and look for someone better. She’s a beautiful, independent woman who doesn’t need to waste her valuable time on some mediocre male.

So ladies, when you’re sick and tired of all the male nonsense that exists in this world — and yes, I know I’m included in that nonsense — just take a step back and think of how irrelevant men are compared to you. Remember your power to control and manipulate the testosterone-inundated males that surround you. Never settle for mediocrity, because you know you deserve more than that. And, most importantly, embrace your inner phalarope.