Testosterone Ad Absurdum

It still amuses me to read blank-slate lefties insisting that gender difference is a function of culture alone. To me, it’s the same kind of scientific know-nothingism that you find on the right with respect to evolution. Note I’m not saying that culture has nothing to do with it – that would be know-nothingness of a reverse kind. But the power of testosterone as a hormone should never be under-estimated.

And the funny thing is: testosterone exists across the entire animal kingdom and correlates very highly with what we think of as culturally masculine attributes: physical strength, risk-taking, competitiveness, ego and the constant desire to fuck. So when I came across this fascinating article on the marsupial, antechinus, I had to chuckle. During the mating season, the males’ testosterone levels go through the roof. The result is sexual mayhem:

Males relentlessly bound from partner to partner, as massive hormone releases in their bodies cause their immune systems to crash and their fur to fall out. They bleed internally. Some males even go blind, yet still stumble around the leaf litter hoping for one last tryst. In a few short weeks, every single male lies dead, leaving the females to raise their offspring …

While [testosterone] mobilizes all the sugars in the antechinus’ body so it doesn’t need to feed for the three-week orgy, it also glitches the mechanism responsible for regulating the production of cortisol, a stress hormone that in small amounts results in bursts of energy and higher pain tolerances. With runaway levels of cortisol, though, the males’ bodies literally begin to fall apart. Bone density plummets and blood-sugar levels go nuts. Their immune systems essentially degrade to worthlessness, as open sores form and never heal.

That’s a dystopian vision of untrammeled maleness if ever there was one. It reveals what we cannot deny about our nature almost as baldly as it wants us to keep it under control.