The male hormonal horror show, as told on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” is almost two decades old. It unfolded to very little fanfare in 2006. As this writer first divulged in her column “Manly No More,” the data came courtesy of Dr. Thomas Travison and colleagues at the New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Massachusetts.
American men are indeed losing the stuff that makes them macho.
In 2007, Reuters reported, “A new study has found a ‘substantial’ drop in U.S. men’s testosterone levels since the 1980s.” That meant the average levels of the male hormone had been dropping by an astounding 1 percent a year. A 65-year-old in 1987 would have had testosterone levels 15 percent higher than those of a 65-year-old in 2002.
Although the New York Times’ science and medicine reporter now mocks these findings—she likely does so because masculinity, in the intervening years, has been declared toxic and because Tucker Carlson refuses to let men be defanged.
The reasons for the reduction in testosterone levels remain unclear. A rise in obesity and a decline in smoking have been suggested, since “testosterone levels are lower among overweight people and smoking increases testosterone levels.”
More reliably, other researchers have implicated estrogen-mimicking chemicals, which leach into the environment from plastics (BPA). (I had covered the pioneering work of Dr. Devra Davis on these xenoestrogens in my Canadian column, in 1999.)
Conspicuously absent from these reports are the effects on serum testosterone of changes in life experiences over time. These trends, however, are routinely tracked when discussing incidence of this or the other disease or deficiency in distaff America.
Thus, breast cancer is said to be associated with the modern woman’s propensity to delay or forfeit childbearing. Osteoporosis is exacerbated by women’s sedentary routines—they do less weight-bearing work than they used to. And so on.
It is very possible, even likely, that the feminization of society over the past 20 to 30 years is changing males, body and mind. It is very possible that the subliminal stress involved in sublimating one’s essential nature is producing less manly men.
Consider: When they are not twerking tush with transexuals, today’s tykes are required to hack their way through page-turners like One Dad Two Dads Brown Dad Blue Dads. Boyhood today also means BB guns and “bang-bang you’re dead” are banned.
Boys are hardwired for competition; the contemporary school enforces cooperation. Boys like to stand out. But team-work obsessed, mediocre, mostly female school teachers teach them to fade into the background. Boys thrive in more disciplined, structured learning environments; the American school system is synonymous with letting it all hang out.
Sons are more likely to be raised without male mentors, since moms, in the last few decades, are more inclined to divorce (and get custody), never marry, or bear children out of wedlock. The schools have been emptied of manly men and staffed by feminists, mostly lacking in the Y chromosome. Although boys (and girls) require discipline, the rare disciplinarian risks parent-driven litigation.
Boys leave secondary school suffused with a sense of their gender as a repository for society’s ills. As if that’s not bad enough, they soon discover that society privileges girls in tertiary schools and in the workplace. Why, even girls favor girls. Most young women swoon over washed-out, asexual celebrities—cherubic-looking, soft-spoken, “girlie-men,” are replacing deep-voiced, macho men as hot favorites.
Women say they look for partners who are “sweet and sensitive.” If they’re having children with androgynous men who grow bum-fluff for stubble, then perhaps they’re breeding out testosterone.
The smashing success of politically incorrect books such as The Dangerous Book for Boys proves how desperate little boys are to be boys again—the book reintroduced a new generation of youngsters to the joys of catapult-making, knot-tying, stone skimming, astronomy, and other such aspects of “toxic masculinity”. (Concocting rocket fuel from saltpeter and sugar is not in the book, but is a lot of fun—or so my husband tells me.)
The thought I had offered in 2006 was this:
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is a delicate homeostatic feedback system, intricately involved in regulating hormones and stress in men and women. Has it become the axis of evil in the war on men?
A Man and a Woman
In 2022, I venture these afterthoughts:
There is a documented “sex recession” among American younger men. The biggest reason for young men shunning intimacy is that they “dread a #MeToo-style harassment charge.”
In other words, in an atmosphere of sexual moral panic, intimacy is becoming less achievable.
Alas, the imagery Carlson presents in his highly stylized documentary on testosterone is replete with “oiled, shirtless men performing vaguely masculine tasks, like turning over giant tires and throwing a javelin.”
I worry that Carlson might be encouraging the male equivalent of the solipsistic, me-me narcissism typifying the #MeToo movement.
I worry that our host has been hanging out with too many meatheads.
The vision of manhood Andrew Tate offers to disenfranchised young men he himself encapsulated thus: get rich, workout, have fast cars and fabulous females.
Every hip-hopster and rapper beat Mr. Tate to this skin-deep take on the optimal man.
Men, young and old, could learn more about being admirable men from strong, principled women than from a rubbishy, social-media type “male,” whose goals are fast cars and fast women. I like and drive the poor-man’s fast car (six-speed manual transmission, turbocharged engine, 18-inch alloy wheels); but no quality woman wants a fast and fickle man.
At its most elevated, manliness, as I see it, is about the values of kindness, protectiveness—not gratuitous cruelty—honor, trust, and . . . I’ll say it: monogamous love.
Love is the ultimate man maker.
True—physical and mental endurance certainly go to the core of manliness.
Indubitably, disciplined men and women can keep their bodies toned and faces fine well into old age. But testosterone in all its multifaceted manifestations is best preserved through passionate, monogamous love between a man and a woman.
Nothing completes a man and makes a man as a woman.