Biological Sexism in Trees and Uteruses

I have a cold: a nasty, chesty, hard-to-breathe summer cold. But also, allergies probably are doing their part to make my lungs feel awful. And when I posted on Facebook about my cold (horribly exciting stuff, that), a friend said that there's something about planting only male trees that makes allergies horrible. 

Wait, what? 

Then she continued, and explained that she saw a thing on TikTok about how urban planners have exclusively planted MALE trees, because they don't have as much "mess" as female trees. Female trees produce seeds, and fruit. They create messy sidewalks when flowers and fruit laden with seeds drop. Male trees do not fruit, because fruiting is women's work. 

But male trees spray pollen everywhere, in huge clouds, basically coating the world in tree sperm. And this is why allergies have been worse in the past 15 years or so -- this proliferation of male trees because they're SO MUCH BETTER than female trees. 

Can you believe that? Major sexism and misogyny, in tree landscaping form. There's so much on how women are messy, all the periods and mucus and pregnancy and hormones. 

But, uh, men are messy too with their protruding organs and their semen and their own hormones, which don't seem to get as much negative play as women's. 

I love the Lume body deodorant commercials, but especially a recent one that points out that most crotch stink comes from the butt. And women are constantly being barraged with products to smell "fresher" and are shamed into thinking that vaginas are stinky and repulsive in their smell. But the Lume lady says something like, "MEN have butts too, and you don't see them having these products shoved down their throats!" Lume addresses crotch stink in everyone with a butt, and doesn't blame vaginas for being messy, or smelly. It's refreshing.

IT'S THE SAME BLAME WITH TREES. I found an article in Atlas Obscura, "Botanical Sexism Could Be Behind Your Seasonal Allergies," which validated what my friend saw on TikTok. It is a great read, and explains in gory detail what's happening to cause these "pollenpacolypse" allergy seasons. 

It also explained, maddeningly, that if the landscapers had planted ONLY female trees, you would have no mess, no fruiting (because there's no males to interact with and get all messy with), AND NO POLLEN. 

But no one looked down that option, did they? They just went with male is better and what's a little tree sperm here and there? 

It reminds me of the lack of research on women's health, like impacts of endometriosis, adenomyosis, PCOS, and birth control/pain management in general. 

 A friend of mine recently had an IUD put in and then subsequently removed. She had it to help control her insanely heavy and frequent periods, but two things happened -- first, it took FORTY-FIVE MINUTES to install the thing because the doctor had difficulty with my friend's cervix and accused her of not taking the cervix-thinner the night before (she had). If that seems like a crazy long, even inhumane time for someone to be pushing something INTO your cervix, you are correct. Especially if all she had in her system was Advil. It was traumatic. They should have stopped. But, they got it in and left my friend to her trauma. Except it started giving her migraines with aura, multiple over the course of two weeks, and so she had it taken out. The doctor, instead of being empathetic or even mildly understanding, was highly defensive and unhelpful. She actually said, "you should really give it a couple more months, but I guess we'll remove it if that's what you want." My friend won't be going back. 

My point is, if a man had to have an IUD like thing put in, IT WOULD NOT EXIST AS AN OPTION. Why is the question asked of women to put up with more pain, to "push through it" rather than have options that actually work? And how about pain management for these procedures? There need to be better options. There need to be better treatments. There should be something between an IUD and hysterectomy (although I am a big fan of that option, since feeling the absolute freedom of no uterus post-fertility-trauma, but clearly that's a drastic solution). An IUD shouldn't feel like an assault. The other option (ablation, or burning the lining away and basically mutilating the organ instead of removing it) just sounds barbaric, and has no guarantee of working either. I know from my endomyometrial resection failure that it can be even more painful when it doesn't work).  There needs to be more understanding of the intricate, messy, and sometimes painful realities of being female. 

So when the tree thing came up, I couldn't NOT share it with you. Even ALLERGIES are made worse by the patriarchy. Messy indeed.


  1. That’s so bizarre. I have never thought of the sex of trees and that there are male and female trees. How interesting! I mean…..fruit is messy. That’s not wrong, but pollen is too. What a boondoggle with impacts on human health!

    Birth control of any sort never appealed to me and I have never used any except condoms (and abstinence). I am actually very grateful for going into menopause so conveniently on cue. Although I don’t know if there might be health issues down the road, so I only gloat cautiously. The amount we don’t know about complex systems, including our bodies, is way more than we do know.

    1. Right? Trees have a sex life that affects us ALL! :) That pollen isn't seen as messy or impactful as fruit/seeds, and that cleanup is seen as more inconvenient than serious health issues... NUTSO. Love the word "boondoggle!"

      Ha, "cautious gloating." For me, birth control's primary function was to make my body less awful -- and then everything I did after I realized children weren't ever coming biologically was to continue trying to wrassle my body into compliance (bled too long, too much, too painfully, too unpredictably). My friend's shot at the IUD was less about the birth control aspect and more about managing her dysfunctional uterus. Oh wow, that is a convenient menopause! I have the no periods because of the hysterectomy, but I still have the hormonal fallout. Fun.

      Love your last line. So true that we know so much less than we don't know.

  2. Oh, your penultimate sentence sums up life, doesn't it?! Argh. And men will never get it. Neither, it seems, do so many women (like your friend's doctor) who are raised and educated and brainwashed in this system. I had a friend in my Masters (Pol Science) class who wrote her thesis on Reproductive Health and the Patriarchy, and we used to talk about these issues - which were well known back in the 1980s. So I always think it is especially sad and frustrating to hear of women doctors who don't question the way things are done.

    I remember the absolute insult I felt when I researched the medication my ob/gyn surgeon had given me after my hysterectomy. He said that some people reported it helped, but I could find no scientific evidence that it helps any more than a placebo. Did he think I was joking when I complained about a dramatic increase in hot flushes? Did he think I should just "suck it up?" Argh. Fortunately, my GP listened to me talk about 25-30 hot flushes a day, shook her head, and said, "well, that's unacceptable" and immediately prescribed me with HRT!

    I'd better stop. Thanks for allowing me the rant!

    1. Oh man, rant away! That's ridiculous that the male doctor dismissed the hot flashes increase (and I had one once who told me, "Well, some women just have pain." WTF???), but so glad you had a wise woman GP who prescribed the HRT. I would love to read "Reproductive Health and the Patriarchy." I bet there's NO SHORTAGE OF MATERIAL. And that it can brainwash women who should know better than to treat other women this way... argggghhhhhhh.

  3. Can I just nominate this as sentence of the week? "most crotch stink comes from the butt." 🤣🤣🤣

    Fascinating! When will human learn that whenever we get too far out of balance, no good comes? And you're right about medicine and men. I recently read The XX Brain by Lisa Mosconi, and although she focused on the brain rather than the lady parts, she makes the claim that the brain actually IS a lady part. It has just never been treated so. By men.

  4. Urgh that is so annoying about the trees! I only developed hay fever in the past 12 years. Why is the male option always the default. Makes me think of the amazing book "invisible women"