According to a study published in the month of September, in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, I can now officially consider myself emasculated.
Well to quote the study anyway: “Dads who spend time with their children have lower levels of testosterone than single guys…. suggesting family men experience a biological shift that may awaken their nurturing side.”
Given that I am and always have been the primary caregiver of three offspring, the eldest of which is 11, there is little wonder that my body has softened so substantially that I found myself spending much of 2011 watching Project Runway while cuddling with the better half!
I wipe away my tears at present with the comfort that it is the men with the highest levels of testosterone that best succeed at attracting willing mates for procreative activities. So, I guess, my testes were more than sufficiently endowed and I could stand with some cutback in male hormone production.
The findings of this horrendous study do lead me to some musings however on definitions of gender and how those definitions can be properly related to my own children.
Ideas of male and female have always been informed by a biological imperative to procreate it seems. Hence, we think of male and female as being opposites, both attracted to the other in a rather Aristotlean dynamic of master and slave. A dynamic that still largely informs the current sentimentalities, hence meekness, submissiveness and resignation are rather attractively identified as female and power, more specifically the power to be just and render privilege, becomes identified as male.
I shall not attempt to critique whether these identifications are fair, you all can sort it out with whoever is the new “Oprah”. I shall simply challenge the rather static way we think when it comes to gender assignment.
Gender definitions are assigned based on biological differences, psychological differences, socio-political roles, socio-economic roles and sexual-political roles. Individual and societal difficulties seem to arise when gender based on biology doesn’t match the gender definitions based on the other four parameters.
The stories of the hermaphroditic, transgendered and non-heterosexual or “non-heteroromantic” are simply anecdotally commonplace even on our little islands. I’m sure we’ve also heard or had something to say as regards gender about the likes of Maggie Thatcher, Mia Mottley, Jerlean John– well you should get the picture.
Not to mention the glances and derisory questioning a sensitive soul like myself must endure about “you doing mommy job today” whenever I accompany my children on their various social or sporting excursions. I manage a smile but I really want to dash the lattes of these yoga class attendees into their faces.
A most unseemly group–these kept wives– that also live in the North Western suburbs of Trinidad. One can now understand why I consider the role of informing minors on gender definitions to be crucial indeed.
I shall like to cursorily suggest here that perhaps the difficulties we encounter may be attributable to our insistence that gender can only be viewed as binary and permanent. Given that the biology can no longer adequately cover the definitions of male and female and that biological shifts occur to meet the evolutionary needs of individuals anyway, may we not all simply be male and female both?!
Is it not also logical that we also are more male or female at various times in our life slipping in and out of each state throughout the course of an average day even? Imagine a line, if you will, with extreme definitions of gender on either end, with individuals sliding back and forth across that line continuously.
Makes evolutionary sense, doesn’t it?
Editor’s Note: Garrick Bruce was last seen flinging a latte into the face of a nasty social-climber that suggested he start yoga.