I’ve been trying to avoid this, but I feel compelled to address the non-controversy that has erupted in the dad/man world over a New York Times article about testosterone levels dropping in men after they have children. The article basically asserted that the more time men spend caring for their children, the more their testosterone levels dropped (by marginal levels).
Sure, I read it when it came out. You know what my reaction was?
Is it really a surprise to anyone that taking care of your kids sends signals to your body that maybe it’s time to settle down? That was the conclusion of the article, that biologically this is proof that we’re meant to be active fathers. That we’re not just influenced by physiology: we can actually change our physiology by our behaviors.
To me, this is slightly refreshing news. I don’t know about you, but I need no upticks in my libido. Louis C.K. agrees, and when commenting on this article said, “A real man raises kids.” That’s it.
So my conclusion is that this is barely news. But the mini-controversy has been stoked by online parties who want page views – including the Times itself, who intentionally framed up the article with “This will make fathers angry – but it shouldn’t!” language.
These page views are coming from guys seeking reassurance about their manliness, after all the crap we’ve been fed about how related that is to testosterone. But you know what, as Doug French recently put it, “maleness” and “manhood” are not the same thing. One has to do with your body’s physical attributes. The other is something more intangible. Something that you have to decide for yourself.
If you want to let some arbitrary factors like your testosterone levels define who you are as a man, go ahead. I for one will let it be defined by the decisions I make – and let those decisions define my physiology, not the other way around.