Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The brute male sexuality

The tired trope of aggressive male sexuality is a pervasive one. The story goes like this: because men are full of testosterone and sperm as well as being unhindered by the consequence of pregnancy, our sexuality is naturally brutish and promiscuous. Testosterone fuels aggression, billions of sperm want hundreds of outlets and nature failed to offset these desires with physical dangers associated with reproduction. The compliment to this "heterocentric" sex story is that women, with their limited eggs, lack of testosterone and pregnancy burdens are naturally chaste and self protective. Any sexual adventurousness is only done to please men and keep them around so they will help with the child rearing. A simple and neatly packaged explanation of human sexuality.

But it’s wrong... San’s gonna do some debunking for you...


Myth: Testosterone makes men aggressive

The idea that testosterone correlates with aggression actually comes from experiments that found castrating mice reduced combativeness. Naturally, culture extended this to humans and claimed testosterone had the same effect on men. In a 2009 study, European researchers administered either .5 mg of testosterone or a placebo to male participants before engaging them in a game of cooperation that involved negotiating money distribution with other players. They could make an offer as fair or unfair as they wished and those on the receiving end could choose to accept or decline. The findings? Testosterone recipients made fairer offers, a direct contradiction with common beliefs about testosterone and aggression. The researchers suggested that testosterone influences a sensitivity towards status which is expressed as cooperativeness in pro-social situations. Do note that the relationship between testosterone and sexual desire is a slightly different story. There is evidence that testosterone influences sexual desire in men and less in women. However, our desires are also regulated and influenced by a scope of psychological and external factors. Stress, diet, and sexual beliefs likely have more of an effect on our sex drives than this hormone.

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