Saturday, September 17, 2011

Real men & hormones (by Suzie)

“Manhood is measured in so many ways.” -- Robert Saxton, father of three.
This sentence is in the last paragraph of "Fathers and the XX-Factor," in the NYT's "Fashion & Style" section, where gender issues get treated less seriously than the colors for spring clothes. I wish this quote had been in the first paragraph. Instead, the author reinforces stereotypical ideas of what a man should be, beginning with this theme:
[N]ew fathers everywhere were calibrating the state of their manhood after the release of a much-discussed study of 600 men that indicated that testosterone — the defining hormone of maleness — drops after a man becomes a father.
I much prefer the piece by Lisa Belkin in Motherlode, in which she diplomatically refers to the "jokes" in the Style story.

This ties into what I have written about some transgendered people -- specifically, Chaz Bono and Susan Stanton -- who have made sweeping generalizations about the differences between men and women, which they attribute to hormones. Their statements bother me more than similar ones by conservatives because some progressives think that transgendered people should never be questioned.

ETA: The idea that more testosterone makes a man more of a man also is offensive to men with prostate cancer who have had their testosterone suppressed. Similarly, I take a pill every day to suppress my estrogen, in hopes that will keep my cancer at bay, but that does not diminish me as a woman.