Angler Fish, Feminist Icon

Neat factoid of the day:

When scientists first started capturing ceratioid anglerfish, they noticed that all of the specimens were females. These individuals were a few inches in size and almost all of them had what appeared to be parasites attached to them. It turned out that these “parasites” were the remains of male ceratioids.

…When it is mature, the male’s digestive system degenerates, making him incapable of feeding independently, which necessitates his quickly finding a female anglerfish to prevent his death. The sensitive olfactory organs help the male to detect the pheromones that signal the proximity of a female anglerfish. When he finds a female, he bites into her skin, and releases an enzyme that digests the skin of his mouth and her body, fusing the pair down to the blood-vessel level. The male then atrophies into nothing more than a pair of gonads…

And I’ll bet that castrating fish doesn’t shave her legs either.

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24 comments for “Angler Fish, Feminist Icon

  1. February 2, 2009 at 2:16 am

    I’ve heard that; isn’t it fascinating? Those ‘but women are NATURALLY that way!’ people pick and choose according to their convenience.

  2. The Amazing Kim
    February 2, 2009 at 3:55 am

    And I’ll bet that castrating fish doesn’t shave her legs either.

    Nor does it own a bicycle.

  3. February 2, 2009 at 4:47 am

    Surely it is an anti castrating fish, given that she only keeps the gonads…

  4. February 2, 2009 at 4:56 am

    Well at least we aren’t Anglerfish! Either way it sounds disgusting.

  5. Caravelle
    February 2, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Now, now, she’s not castrating. Quite the opposite, in fact…

  6. Anon in France
    February 2, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Now THERE’S a caption that made me laugh!

  7. February 2, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Oddly, I don’t see that as a feminist icon at all – in fact, it sounds to me more like one of the classic Patriarchal family systems: namely, the one where a man seeks as his wife/partner a woman who will take over the roles that his mother had when he was growing up (i.e. caring for him, feeding him, etc), plus the role of having his children.

  8. 10G
    February 2, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Brandon, this just went right over your head, didn’t it? Oh yeah, btw I checked out your blog, and… forgot to stop and ask for directions, didn’t you? Or maybe you DIDN’T forget… any rate, the He-man woman haters club is THAT away.

  9. February 2, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Dear female Angler-Fish,

    I feel you.

    Don’t let it get you down that some people look at your partner and pooh-pooh your feminism. The male angler-fish sounds like at least one of the moocher lovers living off me, too, (not all male) and I’m still a feminist! We’ve all made mistakes on the path of finding what works for us.

    Keep doing what you do!


  10. preying mantis
    February 2, 2009 at 10:50 am

    The weirdness that is nature. At least the male anglerfish gets to hang around in some form–there’s some little marsupial mouse in Australia where the males mate like crazy with any receptive female for a few days and then keel over dead.

  11. William
    February 2, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Well at least we aren’t Anglerfish! Either way it sounds disgusting.

    The best part is that those stupid feminists don’t even realize fish don’t have legs, amirite?


  12. Tiffany
    February 2, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I couldn’t help but compare the male ceratioid anglerfish to the last couple of guys who tried to date me. Incapable of taking care of themselves? Yes. Desperately trying to attach themselves to the nearest female? Definitely. Deteriorating down to nothing but sex? That sounds right. Not all men are like this, for sure, which is one thing we have over the female ceratioid anglerfish.

  13. Titanis walleri
    February 2, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    At least the angler fish don’t EAT the males…

  14. February 2, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Hmm. My high school swim team had an anglerfish on the back of our T-shirts freshman year.

  15. AL
    February 2, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    I know what I’m being for halloween…

  16. xxxxxxxxx
    February 2, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    I’ll think of this every time I have to re-watch “Nemo”.

  17. Torri
    February 2, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    I remember first learning this on one of those ‘weird nature’ programs, at the time I was very disturbed, when I was little the look of these guys freaked me out and the sheer body-horror of this new revelation was nightmare-inducing.
    I still think Angler fish are totally awesome though XD

  18. February 3, 2009 at 6:12 am

    I love telling guys about this. “Yep, you be glad we’re not anglerfish or you’d be nothing but a shred of extra DNA clipped onto a female.”

    Sorry, anglerfish dudes. No male subjectivity for you. Your biology is your destiny.

    (And isn’t it great that our fishy icon is so awesome looking? Now I want one of those anglerfish t-shirts too!)

  19. lj
    February 3, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    How is this the icon of feminism again? (please answer without appealing to stereotypes)

  20. February 4, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    How is this the icon of feminism again? (please answer without appealing to stereotypes)

    It’s a joke.

  21. February 5, 2009 at 2:27 am

    Those fish scare the shit out of me.

  22. February 5, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    To 10G,

    Your entitled to your opinion, but I would hardly call myself a woman hater. I treat my girlfriends very well. I enjoy their company and vice versa. Actually, the only time any one of them are complaining is when I don’t have enough free time. Between work and school, my time is rather limited. So they don’t like it when I can’t spend time with them. BTW, I am not lying to any of them, they all know I date multiple women. Apparently, they are all fine with it and so am I.

    Also, I was merely pointing out that the angler fish is disgusting.

  23. February 27, 2009 at 2:24 am

    But it’s not a castrating fish, the only thing left is the gonads. In fact what we see here is a male fish doing absolutely no work but spewing out sperm in return for a female fish providing everything he needs. Not exactly a feminist image.

  24. Brittany
    February 28, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    But at least the male is dependent on the female, and not the other way around. We feminists strive for our independence!

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