From the Departments of Human Genetics, Medicine, and Pediatrics, Allegheny University of the Health Sciences, 320 E North Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15212 (Dr Pyeritz).
Edited by Annette Flanagin, RN, MA, Associate Senior Editor.
What a difference a century makes! "Shenck's Theory of Sex Determination"
provides ample documentation of how far one small aspect of biomedicine and
the world's perspectives of it have evolved in 100 years. The best editorials
and essays presage scientific insights; the one reprinted on the preceding
page fails to anticipate any important advances in reproduction or genetics.
However, the editorial does provide a history lesson that is worth noting:
what we today consider blatant sexism, racism, paternalism, and anti-Semitism
represented mainstream thinking in 1898. Given the events of the mid-20th
century, the casual acceptance of negative eugenics—sterilizing "unfit"
females—particularly grates. The editorialist does nothing to elevate
his stature in our eyes today by justifying sterilization, in part, on the
grounds that physicians would benefit financially from the procedure.
Pyeritz RE. Sex: What We Make of It. JAMA. 1998;279(4):269. doi:10.1001/jama.279.4.269