That men are less emotionally expressive than women, is one of the most enduring stereotypes around, and perhaps it endures for good reason. Men crying is seen as a rare event, while it is not remarkable, in and of itself for women.
So, why does it endure? And is its endurance due to the difference in testosterone levels between men and women?
Prof. Hooven, a Harvard professor, has examined the 'why' question, and the plausible thesis of the divergence being linked to testosterone in her new book, Testosterone: The Story Of The Hormone Which Dominates And Divides Us.
Among other strands, the discussion on what the trans experience tells us about the role of testosterone was quite compelling. Prof. Hooven analysed effects of "cross sex" hormone therapy for her book. Such therapy typically involves blocking the high male levels of testosterone and taking oestrogen (for trans women) and vice versa for trans men. "Do sexuality, aggression and emotionality change, in typically masculine or feminine ways that are consistent with the changes in sex hormones?" she summarises the question in a recent piece in the Stylist. The answer, according to her, from the same piece, "Yes. Big time!"
This is obviously insightful, and not intended to be an explanation of everything on gender imbalance. Yes, there are differences, but differences that do not necessarily mean preserving the dramatically unjust structures of power. And yet, a quest to usher in fairer world cannot ignore differences. Knowing the differences itself is a way to replace judgment with understanding, which is a point that Prof Hooven makes in almost all discussions about the book.
Well, if that sets you up to know more about testosterone, take this self-assessment called the ageing male symptoms (AMS) questionnaire. Takes only four minutes and lets you index scores to those of other men who have taken it!Testosterone and ageing self-assessment