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Don’t blame testosterone for male violence Even trans men live in a world of masculine entitlement

Bodybuilders typically have high T levels (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Bodybuilders typically have high T levels (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)


August 19, 2021   4 mins

When he appeared on Channel 4’s After Dark to discuss “Do Men Have to Be Violent?” with radical feminist Kate Millett, actor Oliver Reed was drunk. “A woman will never, ever forgive a man if he fucks her,” he explained. “You are the receivers, you take our seed
 Look after our babies and we’ll go do the hunting for you.”

It was 1991, the height of the Gulf War, and the debate on militarism, masculine stereotypes and violence towards women was punctuated with references to testosterone. At one point, after he had nipped to the loo and topped up his glass, Reed leant over to kiss Millett — much to her disgust — leading one male guest to pronounce: “A man can never have too much [testosterone].”

In her new book, Testosterone: The Story of the Hormone that Dominates and Divides Us, Carole Hooven explores how the hormone is often presented as both a justification and excuse for male dominance over women. Women have far lower levels of testosterone, so it has often been argued that housework and childrearing come naturally to them. Men, on the other hand, are programmed to be hellbent on impregnating as many women as possible, fighting off male rivals and dragging a carcass home for dinner.

But as Hooven acknowledges in her fascinating book, despite the undeniable effect of the hormone on our behaviour, how we relate to others is based on evolving and complex external forces.

Both sexes produce testosterone, though men create up to twenty times more. Testosterone, then, is at the heart of the nature versus nurture debate. For feminists, it is our culture, rather than hormones, that most influences gendered behaviours. There are, for instance, enough studies which show that women enjoy plenty of sex and risk on par with the most testosterone-fuelled men.

It’s the same with male and female behaviour, neither of which can be reduced to binary Ken and Barbie stereotypes. As a lesbian and gender non-conforming feminist, I know this only too well. When I rejected traditional female toys and dress, I was frequently told I had too much testosterone and that was what made me a tomboy. Even into adult life, I have lost count of the times I have been told I’m a lesbian — or that I will grow a beard and never feel a desire to reproduce — because I have “too much testosterone”.

It’s a load of nonsense, but it raises an important question: how is it that the genetic and hormonal components of sex can create two distinctly different reproductive systems, and yet human male and female behaviour shows itself to be flexible, diverse and often surprisingly similar?

Hooven’s expertise is in natural sciences and biological anthropology — and the answer, she suggests, is that testosterone might strongly influence how we behave; too much of it can make males more aggressive, and those with raised levels often end up taking too many risks so they tend to crash and burn.

That may seem logical, but it does not explain violence against women or rape. As Cordelia Fine, author of the acclaimed Testosterone Rex (2017), points out most men are not violent, which leaves a hole in the theory that testosterone drives behaviour.

Nevertheless, if we are to properly understand sex differences, we still need to educate ourselves about testosterone. Crucially, the controversy around trans women in sport — namely that going through male puberty results not just in far higher levels of tesosterone but also greater bone and muscle mass — is tackled head-on by Hooven. “You may be wondering if natural variation in T [testosterone] levels has anything to do with being transgender in the first place,” she writes. “And given what we know about testosterone, that’s a logical question. The answer is, we don’t know.”

Indeed, Hooven found that there is not much relation between higher testosterone levels and performance among professional athletes when compared to others of the same sex. Between the two sexes, however, “the link is very much stronger”. And this is because “T levels are dramatically higher in males, and have a lot to do with the fact that they are stronger, faster and more aggressive than the vast majority of their female counterparts.” That is, of course, why we have sex-segregated sports in the first place.

If we accept that testosterone can cause aggression in males and change behaviour, which Hooven does, should it be used as an excuse in cases of male sexual assault? No, says Hooven, because even behaviour related to biology is not hardwired and unchangeable. Even if biology is a factor in social ill, it does not make it determined.

Yet it is disappointing that Hooven relies on questionable data to challenge the reality of male violence. For example, in picking apart the trope that male violence towards women is inevitable because it is hormone-driven, she looks to the violence perpetrated by women on male partners and concludes that, with caveats, women are as likely to be violent to male partners as vice-versa, but less likely to kill. I have campaigned to end violence towards women and girls for 40 years, and every bit of evidence from around the world concludes this is simply not the case.

But how much does testosterone affect the way men view women? One example Hooven relies on is that of trans man Griffin Hansbury and his reaction to T injections during the early days of his transition:

“I remember walking up Fifth Avenue, and there was a woman walking in front of me,” says Hansbury. “And she was wearing this little skirt and this little top. And I was looking at her ass. And I kept saying to myself, don’t look at it. Don’t look at it. And I kept looking at it. And I walked past her. And this voice in my head kept saying, turn around to look at her breasts 
. It was like being in a pornographic movie house in my mind. And I couldn’t turn it off. I could not turn it off. Everything I looked at, everything I touched turned to sex.”

While even I, a hard-line social constructionist, concede that testosterone can cause strange behaviour and be as potent as oestrogen is for females, I strongly suspect there are other explanations for his behaviour. Surely, for example, we should put at least some of it down to the privilege and arrogance afforded to men, including trans men.

After all, Hansbury is still living in a world where male entitlement and lack of punishment can lead to the dehumanising and over-sexualisation of women. Hansbury’s testosterone-induced journey from his previous life as a self-described “butch dyke” who used to perform poetry about street harassment cannot be blamed on T alone.

As Hooven observes: “To bring about changes in male behaviour it is not necessary to depress testosterone. Changes in attitudes and culture can do that all by themselves.” She is right, even if the likes of Oliver Reed may suggest otherwise.


Julie Bindel is an investigative journalist, author, and feminist campaigner. Her latest book is Feminism for Women: The Real Route to Liberation. She also writes on Substack.

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Peter Kriens
Peter Kriens
2 years ago

Wow. It looks like the author did not spent a millisecond on looking at actual research but instead read ‘Testosterone Rex’, a book that invalidates itself on the first page when Fine claims she will fail as a feminist if the stories about testosterone turn out to be not wrong. Spoiler: she failed as a feminist but even more as a scientist.
Testosterone is not an aggression hormone, it is the status hormone. It makes men do stupid, difficult, and risky things because, when successful, they raise his status. Competition! And when his status is raised, his testosterone level is raised, which then makes them horny as hell. A virtuous or vicious cycle depending on your point of view.
The author makes it sound as if men are a bit more powerful but even the weakest male can overwhelm the strongest women (in the pre-trans sense). Upper body strength is on average 2x as high because men have different types of muscles and less fat on average. Women almost play in the little league when they have to compete with males, only in long endurance can they sometimes win. These muscles are combined with higher bone density so less fractures, and an average Big 5 profile (more stoic, focused, thing oriented) combined with different IQ profile that makes a male much better suited for a competitive model than the average woman. That is why we tend to sacrifice men in wars, your ancestry consists of one third men and a whopping two third women.
I assume the author refers to Fine’s book when she claims women do plenty of risky things? In Fine’s book, she did a test where in a game the males and females took similar risks, which of course is a complete twisting of the concept of risk taking. The Darwin award is given to people that take themselves voluntarily out of the gene pool in a spectacular way. It has been given once to a woman but that was more out of false sense of equity than justified. The fast majority of failed risks are done by males and so are the fast majority of successful risks that result in high status. For every Bezos, there are many of homeless losers.
And lets face it, women are driving this. The high status males have an overwhelming advantage in the sexual market. Where most men are not very selective, women tend to only find the top men acceptable. How many women are married to a lower status man?
Actually, after re-reading the article it almost feels as the author has lost her hope in the cultural trope and starts to understand that there are very big physiological and psychological differences and some of these differences are heavily influenced by testosterone. Just her status depends too much on denying reality.

Last edited 2 years ago by Peter Kriens
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Kriens

How many women are married to a lower status man?

in a society in which people are monogamous and most pair off, some would have to be!

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Yes, that was my thought too. And I think that men are rather selective when it comes to actual marriage. It’s largely looks with us, although other factors count as well. So, there are probably roughly as many lower status women as there are men in the same unfortunate condition. But at least they can cling to each other for warmth.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Not necessarily. It would be possible for each pair to be of similar status.

But that is not the point that the poster is making in the question quoted. Studies repeatedly show that women tend to be hypergamous, consistently seeking mates of status as high as their own (as a minimum), and preferably higher.

Nobody would find it remarkable for a male chief executive to marry a female secretary. But they would be surprised if a female chief executive married the office maintenance man.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Agreed. But seeking is not finding. And it depends on how you define status. Would that be an attractive, younger secretary.
But joking aside, I think you are right in terms of material status. Which brings us back to the issue. Women, on average are rising in status. If they don’t start pairing downwards we have a bit of a problem.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Kriens

Perhaps as a corollary it is the fact that female is defined by reproductive form and function – having an anatomy that produces and supports large immotile gametes (eggs) whereas males have a reproductive anatomy that produces millions of very motile gametes.
I would suggest it is this production differential that drives the idea of the ‘expendable male’ since one man may be able to fertile many women?

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Kriens

No mention of the compatibility of personal philosophies or interests, or even love? How dismal.

MICHAEL MCGREGOR
MICHAEL MCGREGOR
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Kriens

Maybe not the MAIN reason. More likely, not being as good at bayonetting someone in the stomach while shouting “In, Twist, Out”.

G A
G A
2 years ago

This article demonstrates perfectly why, despite being 100% behind equal rights and opportunities for women, I would never describe myself as a feminist.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  G A

If you start out determined to hate all men, for whom you see no useful purpose anyway being a lesbian, then you are absolutely 100% certain to get everything after that wrong, as here.
The standard of thinking and insight is 1990s northern polytechnic Something Studies “degree”.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

JP Sears, the Woke Liberal Vegan who does a spoof news show on youtube had one (true) about a woman prisoner getting another woman prisoner pregnant after forcing her

as he said (paraphrased) ‘What is wrong with women now days? Sexually assaulting other women, and getting them pregnant.’

Christopher Thompson
Christopher Thompson
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Why northern? There were plenty of carp polys darn sarf.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

I had Crewe and Alsager Poly in mind, but you’re not wrong.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

Are there no lesbian and gender non-conforming feminist evolutionary biologists? Or even livestock farmers?

A few years studying or even just observing nature at first hand from points of view of either of the above would blow convoluted social constructivist explanations out of the water.

Culture, especially Western culture, is what suppresses the worst aspects of male violence, not what causes it.

Deconstruct it at your peril.

Last edited 2 years ago by Brendan O'Leary
Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
2 years ago

I have worked with cattle and sheep for 40 years, as well as living with cats.
Sex-based behaviours in mammals are entirely real, and are always related to the continuation of the species. Young males fight over females in fields and woods just as they do in Newcastle’s Bigg Market on a Friday night. A human mother who finds the strength to lift a car off her child is displaying exactly the same behaviour as a cow who attacks a dogwalker who goes too close to her calf. If animals do it, it’s real and related to sex, though whether it is entirely caused by testosterone levels, I have no idea.
Other mammals, however, do not do housework, beyond nest-building for birth, do not wear clothes unless stupid humans dress them up, do not wear make up or nail varnish and do not carry out tasks for others of the same species in return for money. They also wean their young as soon as possible and lose interest in them. Therefore, all sex-based assumptions about appropriate apparel, domestic tasks, work roles and child care (weaned animals are adults) are entirely human social constructs and are open to challenge. ‘Gender’ ideology says that women who challenge them are ‘really’ men. Gender critical feminists say they they are women who do not conform to stereotypes. Either way, testosterone has nothing to do with the ability to cook or a desire to wear pink.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Therefore, all sex-based assumptions about appropriate apparel, domestic tasks, work roles and child care (weaned animals are adults) are entirely human social constructs and are open to challenge.

That rather begs the question. Sex differences vary between social and non social species, and human beings are a very particular social species. We actually don’t know the degree to which social factors are influenced by biology – the nature nurture debate is very much alive.
For what it’s worth, I suspect some aspects of society are attempts to cope with biological drivers which would otherwise be destructive. Different societies having adopted different strategies.
On a purely practical level, and provided no one tries to push it on people by eg. Stopping boys rough and tumble play, I think your view is a good one to live by. Because it allows people a greater range of behaviour without risking social disapproval. Differences which are biological will then emerge naturally, without being forced either way. And so long as they are not dangerously antisocial, I think that’s a good thing.

Graham Willis
Graham Willis
2 years ago

For the past 50 years or so the feminist movement has pretended biology does not exist. It has never been a part of academic feminism and discussions of innate sex differences have been looked upon with distaste in the general feminist discourse.
And, as an inevitable logical consequence, we find ourselves at such a time that a man may simply declare himself a women and it is so.

Steve Walker
Steve Walker
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Willis

A thousand times this. I’m always amazed it isn’t brought up more that the trans issue is a problem largely of the (3rd and that wave) feminists’ own making.

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Willis

So all our thinking, art, endeavour, our civilisations are meaningless? We are just unthinking animals and will always remain so?

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
2 years ago

‘While even I, a hard-line social constructionist, concede that testosterone can cause strange behaviour and be as potent as oestrogen is for females, I strongly suspect there are other explanations for his behaviour. Surely, for example, we should put at least some of it down to the privilege and arrogance afforded to men, including trans men.

Laughed out loud at this paragraph.
There it is.
Julie Bindel is entertaining at least

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
2 years ago

Can’t help but think that the ideological drive in feminism to see everything as being culturally conditioned, largely just serves the purpose of giving feminists some hope that they can change things — they can personally reduce/ abolish social problems like ‘male violence’, which are actually fairly intractable

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

The idea is to get to a place where everything that happens to wimmin that’s unsatisfactory to them is femsplained as the deliberate choice of men. That’s the aim. If achieved, bigots like Julie could then argue that she’s poor because men did it to her deliberately, so she’s owed money.

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
2 years ago

How violent are you, and why?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

I don’t think she understands that she is the precise female equivalent of Oliver Reed.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago

This meandering article fails to make a serious point. Is she disputing that testosterone causes aggression in people?
I don’t believe that anybody has ever said that violence against women is ok, however to try and infer that the high levels of testosterone has nothing to do with the increased violence in males, not just against females but more of them than not against each other?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

What is a gender non conforming feminist exactly?

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
2 years ago

Glad I wasn’t the only one wondering about that.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

Where is the ‘laugh’ button. Thought I would throw it in there because it had me perplexed!

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
2 years ago

Try a book, magic buttons don’t really exist, as so many children’s books make clear.

Tim Knight
Tim Knight
2 years ago

No one knows.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
2 years ago

A woman who doesn’t conform to society’s expectations about female behaviour and aspirations, as I don’t.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Female behaviour and aspirations are so wide and various, that this is no explanation for me.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Yes – I’m guessing it means non-conforming in a particular way. I’m second guessing, but I think it means (ironically) non-conforming in a masculine direction.
Caroline seems to be talking as if society expects all women to present in one single way – which clearly it doesn’t. Indeed, nowadays women who do conform to such supposed standards are pretty non-conformist.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago

Yes, and society nowadays hardly speaks with one voice. There’s all this concern expressed about how divided we are, so why would you expect any clear expectations as to gender roles?

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Krehbiel

You have answered your own question perfectly.

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
2 years ago

The book thing, again
.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago

i think the confusion here is that many expect feminists to be largely made up of gender non conforming women (butch lesbians, tomboys etc) by adding feminist to the end of the description it implies that she is not what you would expect from a feminist rather than being exactly what is expected.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

I have spent 40 years in an industry with many lesbians (in fact one company was at least 50% lesbian) and have a number of lesbians who are friends. Some more butch, some very feminine. So no, that is not an explanation. Further, (dare I say ‘most’) feminists and lesbians are increasingly at odds with trans activists and the encroachment of trans rights on their territory. So when someone introduces a notion of gender fluidity as a label, I am curious to understand. The age of labels.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago

I suspect its the difficulty with stereotyping. Stereotypes are frequently wrong, many hate being stereotyped and yet todays youth seem more determined than ever to conform to labels.

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

But is that not an enduring aspect of youth, all desperate to be different, yet all different in the same way as each other.

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
2 years ago

It reviews a book, read the book perhaps.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

It’s what would once have been described as “butch”

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago

Trans woman fighting for women’s equality/equity against testosterone-fuelled patriarchy?

Gareth Rees
Gareth Rees
2 years ago

It was the claim to be gender non-conforming and lesbian that me laugh. This means Jules is a gender-critical gender-non-conforming trans-excluding lesbian formerly radical feminist.

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Gareth Rees

Or she could just be trying to explain herself in language she is familiar with, merely to have the words randomly shouted back as an insult. Without any effort at understanding. Like my young life when being gay was not quite as lauded as it is now, asking for the right not to be sacked, beaten up by random people, beaten up by the police should you make a complaint, was usually answered with “f*****g poof”, and often injuries, perhaps by people who think like you. Although I suspect there is no perhaps about it
.

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
2 years ago

Unherd should be better than this. It usually is.

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
2 years ago

Well said! Some of these people are just thugs.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lee Jones
Richard Turpin
Richard Turpin
2 years ago

I always find it fascinating how a non biologiocal male is able to talk about the male species, how we feel and the reasons for how we do, should and don’t behave. Just imagine an article being written about women in the same vein by a male author. They would be exterminated by the Twatter mob, cancelled with publishing house employees bursting into tears and refusing to handle the soiled text until it was removed.
Laced in bigotry(an irony utterly wasted on feminists) from the off in a desperate bid to affirm and validate her theoretically shattered social constructavist ideas. Nature versus nuture was blown out of the water a long time ago. Pure bigotry.
The only thing I’m surprisred at is she didn’t firmly place the blame at the feet of white males.

Last edited 2 years ago by Richard Turpin
Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago

I recall seeing on television, some decades ago, a programme following certain young women who were transitioning to male. A particular element of this has remained in my memory: the account of one of the subjects of the effect on her/him of taking testosterone. Before, when she was a girl, problems could make her upset, and she would tend to retreat from confrontation; she might weep, which would then relieve her feelings. 

By contrast – now on testosterone – her/his emotion in similar circumstances was anger, and an urge to confront. But that wasn’t all: seeking the emotional relief that tears had previously brought, she/he tried to weep, but was simply no longer able to

My personal memory of the account of only one person, perhaps; but it is very suggestive of the immensely strong effect of hormones on human emotion and behaviour, especially as to behaviour regarded as typically male or female.

[Note: I have used ‘her/his’ because, to the best of my recollection, the person said they had replied to the question ‘Are you a boy or a girl?’ along the lines that they were sort of both.]

John
John
2 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

One of my male friends with prostrate cancer is taking oestrogen to help and has in turn become much more emotional and teary.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  John

OK – but if you have cancer you might well be emotional and teary without the need for oestrogen.

Gareth Rees
Gareth Rees
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

It’s been widely reported in M to F transitioners prescribed female hormones and testosterone suppressants.

Nick M
Nick M
2 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

This links with some of my thoughts on the article. From my personal experience women seem much more likely to self harm than men while men are likely to outwardly express their frustration/anger possibly by getting in to fights.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
2 years ago

I found the article full of contradictions. First this: “most men are not violent, which leaves a hole in the theory that testosterone drives behaviour.” and then this: “T levels are dramatically higher in males, and have a lot to do with the fact that they are stronger, faster and more aggressive than the vast majority of their female counterparts.” That is, of course, why we have sex-segregated sports in the first place.”
“To bring about changes in male behaviour it is not necessary to depress testosterone. Changes in attitudes and culture can do that all by themselves.” So what about young boys in school classrooms? Yes, we do alter their behaviour (in my day it was by the cane) but perhaps we need to alter our expectations of their behaviour based on their physical capacities.

John
John
2 years ago

Certainly young boys struggle sitting down for long-periods in classrooms and are seen (by female staff) as more disruptive. what is need is a more kinesthetic learning or the traditional method of apprenticeship. Oh yes – and firm boundaries.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

There’s an important distinction here between repression and redirection/accommodation. Too many feminists seem too keen on repression. It’s likely to back fire. Far better to allow socially sanctioned – and managed – outlets for aggression and competition.
Its why social constructionism is so dangerous. It’s based on the idea that people can be remade – and when that fails, oppression follows.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
2 years ago

Female gestation takes a long time, and leaves her exposed for its duration. Male ejaculation takes seconds, and one male can service many females. Species survival is maximised under these circumstances by male disposability in service of protecting females.
Endangering yourself in service of another stands in direct opposition to the survival instinct, which therefore requires a powerful hormone to override. This is a principle function of testosterone. A powerful hormone has powerful properties, some good, some bad.
Arrangements are currently such that females don’t require much protection during gestation. The advantages of testosterone are currently without value and, under feminist ideology, devalued further, leaving only its disadvantages. These disadvantages are the wellspring of much feminist grievance.
Ironically, the forces of cultural destruction unleashed by their apparently insatiable appetite for grievance are hastening our return to social arrangements — from which we’ve only recently emerged — in which females will once again require protection during gestation from males prepared to sacrifice themselves. The price that a woman would pay for a litre of testosterone will certainly be higher then.
But, despite feminist claims to the contrary, no-one wants a return to that. That’s why I think it would be better all round if we abandoned all the grievance mongering that is hastening this return, and devote that energy to something useful like curing cancer.

Last edited 2 years ago by Richard Lyon
Natasha Felicia
Natasha Felicia
2 years ago

However we want to deconstruct the reasons why they are willing to behave this way, I am very grateful for the paratroopers (whom I assume to be male) extracting from their homes around the city British and Irish citizens – plus the Afghans that helped the allied mission – and getting them to Kabul airport and on flights out of the country.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
2 years ago

Brilliant.
>Men and women differ, on average, by an order of magnitude or so in natural production of a certain hormone
>If that hormone were believed to have an effect on behaviour, in proportion to the amount each person has, then that claim could be used to reinforce stereotypes and justify unacceptable behaviour
>Therefore the hormone must not be believed to have any effect on behaviour.

You have to hand it to Julie, she certainly takes social constructionism seriously. A more social-constructionist argument for social constructionism is hard to imagine.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tom Watson
Tom Watson
Tom Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

Wait I just realised – if a trans man suddenly becoming horny is due to the social conditioning afforded by male entitlement and not in any way affected by hormone supplementation, how can one be against the claim that rapists who identify as women should be housed in women’s prisons? If ‘society’ is all that matters, surely on identifying as women they’ll become as acutely aware of their vulnerability to male predation as any other woman? And if not, doesn’t that mean we need to redouble our efforts to treat them as women? Even if their motives were less than pure at first (perish the thought), given that social conditioning is all-powerful a little exposure to the other side of the patriarchal coin will leave them fully paid-up members of the sisterhood!

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

It’s remarkable how many arguments run in the same way. I think it’s called the “moralistic fallacy” – that something can’t be true because it would be bad if it was. Well spotted

Joe Wein
Joe Wein
2 years ago

This piece reminds me of why I am a conservative. The problem with viewing the world through progressive eyes, is that progressives fail to acknowledge human nature. Indeed it sometimes appears as if progressives have never met any actual human beings.
This author seems to not have met many actual women or men and so she can create a sense-free framework to entertain us with.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

As Cordelia Fine, author of the acclaimed Testosterone Rex (2017), points out most men are not violent, which leaves a hole in the theory that testosterone drives behaviour.

Only if you view this in an entirely mechanical way. The most that research is likely to show is that across large numbers there is a tendency for higher levels of testosterone to be associated with higher levels of violence.
it’s bound to be multi causal – but that might include other elements which may have biological roots. Self control, for example.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
2 years ago

Hansbury’s description here of testosterone injections is EXACTLY what testosterone does if you’re a man – I’m just grateful women spend so much time and effort NOT emphasising the plumpness of their breasts or behinds so thankfully I’m not distracted


Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Oh but even when they do emphasise those characteristics they are not doing it to attract men. Rather to please themselves .

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago

Why I read Unherd- interesting article that raises questions. The issue of normality: what is overwhelmingly and historically the role of human genders? Outliers only prove they are exceptional. All of that said, the West shows we don’t have everyday male violence on anything like the scale of past human history. Of course this is down to parenting- sadly missing from this article unsurprisingly. Good parenting from a father and mother (others are outliers- not a moral judgment) balance male traits by encouraging empathy and articulateness and balance socialised ‘pinkness’ in girls by encouraging physical and mental courage. The other factor to fight, missing here as well , is religion which nearly always seeks to reinforce male domination. Interesting that.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

We do in some social groups ( have everyday male violence )

Last edited 2 years ago by Alan Osband
Paul Sorrenti
Paul Sorrenti
2 years ago

What Julie actually said was:

Carole Hooven explores how the hormone is often presented as both a justification and excuse for male dominance over women. Women have far lower levels of testosterone, so it has often been argued that housework and childrearing come naturally to them. Men, on the other hand, are programmed to be hellbent on impregnating as many women as possible, fighting off male rivals and dragging a carcass home for dinner.

But as Hooven acknowledges . . .

People love to yell ‘bigot!’ these days don’t they?

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Sorrenti

She uses a lot of ifs and buts to insinuate her bigotry, that’s all.

Paul Sorrenti
Paul Sorrenti
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

i don’t see how a heightened sensitivity to dog whistles validates quoting someone out of context. it’s just inverted wokeness

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
2 years ago

Julie, some of these people are thugs, I’m sure you have dealt with worse. But some of use find you awkward, obstinate and unrelenting, and thus, heroic.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Lee Jones

Ah bless gay men DO get on with lesbians

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

Arsehole!