Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Testosterone Nation


You know, when I was a twenty-something university feminist, most of what I heard about testosterone was bad. Testosterone, after all, is maleness. It makes men what they are. And at the time, most of what men are seemed like a bad thing.

According to that logic, testosterone is behind male aggression. Therefore, testosterone causes wars. Testosterone causes rape. Testosterone causes domestic violence. Testosterone is the reason why women are afraid to go out alone at night.

More trivially, testosterone causes other irritating male habits like hogging the TV remote, and sweating copiously all over the equipment at the gymn and not wiping it off. Testosterone is the reason why meetings at work go on way too long, as the men feel compelled to make a dominance display of other male secondary sex characteristics like enormous briefcases, excessive use of managerial gobbledygook, and pontificating on subjects they know nothing about. As the meeting ends, the women depart to finally get some real work done, muttering under their breaths about having to fight their way out through the testosterone fog.

Also, for many Australian women, it feels like we live in Testosterone Nation. Australia is very, very blokey. Our national heroes are mostly from male sports. Our big national day is Anzac Day, a commemoration of war, focusing on a military parade. Our big national monument is the Anzac memorial. Our emotional life is still expressed mainly in terms of mateship - between blokes. Our work-force is one of the most sex-segregated in the world. Aside from sport (and everyone knows that female sport is inferior and boring, except for the swimming), our most characteristically Australian leisure activity is barbecues, where men preside over the barbie arguing with each other about the best technique for setting fire to enormous lumps of red meat. Usually to the sound of music from male pub bands in the background. No barbie would be complete without songs like:

I come from the land down under
Where women glow and men chunder
Can you hear, can you hear the thunder
You better run, you better take cover

(especially if they follow through with that plan to live things up by pouring on the gasolene)

And this carries through to our language and politics. The politics that is relevant in Australia is hard (politics) and dry (economics). The politics that is irrelevant is soft and wet. A more dirty-minded woman than me might think that political discussions were really about another subject entirely....

Sometimes it feels like testosterone rules Australia.

Now, I will not deny that the relationship between female behaviour and our hormones can be spectacular. Plus, I read Foolish Mutterings, so it would be foolish to deny that women on the rag can be very hard work.

But, you know, anyone who thinks its just women who are ruled by their hormones has never lived with a man whose hormones are out of whack.

I'm living with a man who has, among other issues, low testosterone. The fancy term is hypogonadism. You only have to look at that word to realize its not going to be good news for your sex life.

And low testosterone is not just bad for your sex life. Low testosterone causes other bad things, such as reduced muscle mass, thinning of bones, lowered sperm count and reduced fertility, general reduced feelings of well-being, irritability, inability to concentrate, fatigue and depression.

As a twenty-something feminist, I would never have believed I'd say this, but I wish we had a bit more testosterone around here.


Blogger aphron said...

Thanks for the plug!

Testosterone is neither good nor bad. Estrogen is neither good nor bad. Those with testosterone don't understand those with estrogen, either.

3:51 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

Is there any way for him to get testosterone injections to help compensate for his lack thereof?

3:58 AM  
Blogger trueself said...

Wondering if this is W's problem. He has many of the symptoms you listed. I think I'll ask him to discuss it with his Dr.

5:14 AM  
Blogger FTN said...

Many of the things that make some men into such jerks also make some other men great. Great athletes, leaders, husbands, fathers, sex machines, whatever. I think as a whole, men and women are quite different (testosterone and estrogen being one of many reasons).

Women don't like men to be gross, sweaty brutes, but they do want men to be strong and confident. I wonder how much of that is testosterone, and how much of it is just a mental state.

Regardless, I sure could go for a huge slab of seared meat right now.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Hi all

Aphron - great to see you here. And I agree, sort of.

Rob - We had a doctor's appointment about that yesterday, and will be seeing his endocrinologist about it in a few weeks. Wish us luck!

Trueself - Even if it doesn't turn out to be testosterone, its always worth getting these things checked. The most effective treatments my partner has been followed my telling him to get his hormones checked.

FTN - I agree, and actually I could go for a good slab of meat myself right now!

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you tell me more about hypogonadwhatchamacallit. Although I am a big guy, I think I suffer from those symptoms.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Anonymous - There is a pretty good introduction to hypogonadism at the Mayo Clinic site at:

If you think you may have it, a simple blood test will tell you.

3:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Testosterone user, but not for a medical condition, i use it as an aid in my weight training. I am 30yo and i am a strong believer that as you show, Testosterone has some pretty bad wraps on it.
On the other hand, if you look past all the media hype around people who are abusing Test you will find that, like me, there are a lot of people who are educated on the use of Test and similar hormones and use it properly, and i will add that my GP knows of my use and subjects me to regular liver value testing etc.
Lastly, I feel absolutely great on test. I have an immense sense of wellbeing, sleep like never before, eat healthier than i otherwise would due to the lifestyle of Bodybuilding and my wife loves all my extra energy if you know what i mean ;-) so it cant be all bad, I feel great....

10:59 PM  
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