I want to note that the way the sex binary looks like it’s present throughout the animal world is that white scientists have a terrible habit of labeling everything “male” or “female” even when it makes no sense.
Like, by any reasonable metric, bees have three sexes:…
My biology degree is actually useful for once!
So, in biology, sex is usually defined by gamete size (the cells used in sexual reproduction that fuse together to form a new organism—in humans eggs and sperm) and, to some extent, genetics. The female sex has the larger gamete, while the male sex has smaller gamete. Typically larger gametes are associated with greater investment in the offspring (so the female is usually the one that’s pregnant or takes care of the eggs), however, this isn’t always the case and male organisms sometimes make a greater investment in offspring than the female (seahorses!).
Although this is the definition for distinguishing sex in a lot of multi-celled organisms, there are some organisms (mostly fish, from what I’m aware) that can undergo hormone changes that allow them to switch between sexes, usually this occurs in a “harem” groups, where there is one male that protects many females from threats and basically offers safety for the females in exchange for the females allowing the male to fertilize their eggs. The male usually has a pretty short life, since it usually gets really flashy coloration when it turns male, so when the male dies, a female fish will take the male’s place and undergo hormonal changes, then take over the harem. In some cases, there are also some sneaky male fish that look like females and fertilize some or all of the eggs before the dominant male is able to.
One of my professors was actually a bee expert, but, unfortunately, his main interest was in honey bee water collection and genetics, so some of this may not be totally accurate (bee experts, please do correct me if I say something that’s wrong!), but I think that the reason why worker bees are classified as female is because they are able to lay eggs in some circumstances. Since the eggs are unfertilized and can only develop into male drones, a colony can’t survive with only laying worker bees and need a queen, but because the worker bees are genetically the same as queen bees (drones only have one set of chromosomes) and they can have gametes, which are eggs, they’re considered female in this case.
As far as I know, there are no mammals that can asexually reproduce (except in laboratory studies where genetics were manipulated), though there are some vertebrates that can. There is a species of lizard (the New Mexico whiptail) that exclusively reproduces asexually and is considered all female. There are a few issues with categorizing these lizards as female, since only one sex seems to exist in the species. So the issue here is that this species is closely related to other species of lizard that have two sexes and, in these other lizards that reproduce sexually, the sex of the lizards is determined by whether they produce eggs or sperm. In the New Mexico whiptail, the lizards all reproduce through eggs (they reproduce through a process called parthenogenesis, where eggs are either full clones or half clones of the original organism), so the reason why these lizards are considered female is because the other species they are closely related to have two sexes and the disappearance of the male sex likely happened only recently (the parent species likely had two sexes and the New Mexico whiptail still exhibit vestige behavior of mating as though there were two sexes). There are some issues with this classification, yeah, but it’s not entirely arbitrary either.
So now, there’s also a classification of sexual reproduction that involves two gamete that are mostly indistinguishable from each other, therefore there is no male or female sex. This is called isogamy (“iso” meaning “equal” like isosceles triangle, which have two equal sides). In isogamy, sex is usually named things like “+” and “-” or “a” and “alpha” (in yeast).
Anyway, there’s a ton more stuff on this, but bottom line is, classification and grouping of stuff is hard, especially for scientists and biologists who have to deal with really, really weird organisms that decided to evolve in pretty bizarre ways. While the whole classification system for sex is a bit wonky and doesn’t always quite work, it’s not too bad and changes with new advancements to better reflect the world around us.
Also, it’s not “white scientists” just using and creating these definitions. There are tons of people from all sorts of backgrounds trying to pave their way into a profession that has been historically dominated by white, usually wealthy men. This doesn’t mean modern science isn’t done by minority groups and it isn’t fair to claim that a big chunk of science (work on sex and reproduction, in this case) is done by only one group of individuals when these concepts are used and built upon by people of diverse backgrounds who are fighting to earn recognition and pave the way toward representation for others.
tldr; Sexual reproduction is probably a lot more complicated than you think and claiming that the sex binary method of classifying stuff is the product of while scientists kind of oversimplifies stuff and makes it seem as though minority scientists haven’t been contributing to the field