The last unit discussed the anatomy and physiology of the reproductive
system. Of course, gender is a far more integral part of the human experience
than a few gender specific structures and processes. When you consider
yourself, your personality, your inner nature etc., to what degree does
gender play a role? Would you be the same person if you were born as a
member of the opposite gender?
THE SKELETAL SYSTEM
Bones in our bodies do many things. They give us shape (just think of
what you would look like without bones), they allow movement (muscles
produce movement when they pull on bones), they protect delicate organs
(such as the cranium around the brain or the rib cage around the heart
and lungs),and they are involved in the regulation of calcium levels in
These are all important functions. Does the skeletal system serve an even
more integral function to us? Does it contribute to our self of self?
If you look at the two skulls above, it is clear that they
have two different shapes. How do you think having a face of a different
shape would affect the person you turned out to be? How about a body of
a different size? How might this have affected the relationships you had
with others? Would you be the same person you are today if your skeletal
system had formed differently?
THE MUSCULAR SYSTEM
We use our muscles to move our limbs, to breathe, to change the diameter
of blood vessels and respiratory passageways, and to change facial expression.
They maintain posture and generate the heat which keeps us warm. There
are individual differences in the size and physiology of the muscles of
the human body.
Has your muscular system contributed to who you are today? If your muscular
system had formed differently giving you different strength or a different
kind of strength (for example, you might be a better sprinter than distance
runner), would you be the exact same person you are today?
Our skin has a number of functions. It protects us from microbes, water
loss, and harmful agents from the environment. It secretes sweat which
cools us and pheromones which communicate information about our sexual
state that others may respond to. There are cells which produce pigment
(melanocytes) which protects our genes from mutation by ultraviolet light.
Our skin contains hair follicles and the cells which determine the color
How has your skin affected who you are? Do you think you would be exactly
the same person you are today if your hair was a different color or texture?
If you made more or less melanin in your skin than you currently do?
Note the adipose in these cats below. Adipose is stored, among other places,
in the hypodermis, beneath the epidermis and dermis of the skin. There
are a number of variables which determine how much adipose we form, including
our genetic makeup. Hormones help to determine where on the body adipose
is deposited. Do you think you would be exactly the same person you are
today if you had a different amount or a different distribution of adipose
on your body?