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Testosterone (Pt. 1): An Open Apology to Men

2009 April 24
by Chakka Reeves

black-man-painblack-man-painblack-man-painA realization:  My self-improvement quest has made me less understanding of basic human nature. I understand human nature, but I see it as something to be conquered, not accepted (Buddha would be displeased, if he were capable of displeasure). This complicates matters of the heart when dealing with men, especially since my understanding of men is so limited in the first place.

I didn’t notice this at first. I find myself less annoyed by the actions and choices of others, and it’s been a while since something someone else did or said had a negative effect on me. I attribute this to one of the principles in the book “The Four Agreements” which is “Never Take Anything Personally,” as well as the work of Albert Ellis (Rational Thinking). I know now that no matter what people do, it’s their choice. I can not cause or be the cause of anyone’s actions, and the way that events seems to me is due to my interpretation of them, and not some objective reality.  However, since I am not as affected by people’s choices, my understanding and forgiving muscles may be out of shape.

The detachment I have achieved doesn’t work in all situations, however. Due to my hyper self-awareness, I have a really hard time understanding when people attribute their actions to unconscious things, such as their past, or hormones. Because of this,  my ability to sympathize with men, and the questionable decisions that some men make has been severely impaired. Male supremacy is based on the idea that men are more reasonable and thinking than women. How then, does this thinking get reconciled with statements such as “Boys will be boys” and “He’s a man. What do you expect?”

My all-female upbringing, lack of male friends, relationships with men who are really in touch with their feminine sides, and being in a field that is overwhelmingly female have prevented me from internalizing one fact: Men and Women are Different. I’ve heard it, I know it, but I didn’t really get it until recently.

After a tense discussion with a friend, I stumbled upon an episode of the radio show “This American Life” called “Testosterone.”, which originally aired in 2002. It was about the hormone and how it effects people, not just men. The story that struck me the most was about Griffin Hansbury, a transgendered man who describe his process of becoming a man, which included taking testosterone. He talks about understanding for the first time why men were prone to certain actions. Griffin said that while taking the hormone, he couldn’t look at an attractive woman without having overpowering, pornographic thoughts about her. Once a self-described post-feminist, he was now accused of being a misogynist by female friends,  and had to work to learn how to talk to woman (he also said that he suddenly became interested in science after taking testosterone).

The point is, when working to improve yourself, it’s important to remember that acceptance should be the ultimate goal when dealing with others. Acceptance means that you acknowledge that everyone has value and purpose, even if their actions are hurtful or contradict your values.

So, to the men in my life, no matter how sensitive or brash, you aren’t women, and I wouldn’t want you to be. It’s starting to sink in now.

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4 Responses Post a comment
  1. August 7, 2009

    Thank you wouldn’t even be enough…u just simplified a problem men and women have been having for awhile…although emoting….regardless of the emotion is essentially what our “developed sense of consciousness” allows us to process actions as. Things were so much easier when we were running on just bare instinct.

  2. May 11, 2009

    I just wanted to give a sincere thank you for a post like this. Coming from a male perspective, explain to women the challenges we face with regard to social perceptions is always hard. I won’t get into the sexual instinct angle but the struggles to conform to some overriding standard of masculinity are hard. Lots of brothers have really poor self-esteem that develops from not earning enough money or being conceived as a “strong” man. I appreciate the simple admission. Its the first step to healing our relationships and families.

  3. Kristal permalink
    April 24, 2009

    It sounds to me essentially what your open apology is saying is that everything we, as women, were raised or conditioned to believe about men/relationships is very warped in the sense that we are encouraged to think of ourselves first and others second. When we do this we become blind to a lot of things and end up very limited in our perspectives. I agree but it’s a bittersweet touche’ and a lot to absorb because we have to unplug and become rewired.

    It’s like we’re at this phase of discovery- we now know things that we didn’t quite fully understand before but what do we do now? Knowing and accepting the nature of others, primarily men, is a like a punch to the face, it hurts, may potentially scar, and will eventually heal over time.

    As far as the hormones-women are affected by testosterone too. When testosterone levels spike and estrogen drops in some women during their cycles they become insatiable lol And that’s just a little spike- imagine if the stuff was running full throttle through our bodies daily-we’d be out of control! It takes and INCREDIBLY strong man not to act on those impulses- the mind can only ward off the the body’s desires for so long.

    • Free Reeves permalink
      April 25, 2009

      I felt the need to apologize because I never tried to understand men with the lens of acceptance. I only tried to understand them in terms of what they “should” do or how they “should” act, because of how women act. I’ve never been flooded with testosterone, told by other men that I shouldn’t cry, or had my self-worth equated with earning power and sexual prowess. In short, I’ve never accepted that men live in a separate world than women do.

What do you think?

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