“It’s stimulating fun when the assumptions and interpretations of scientific findings must undergo major revision. It’s more than just fun when that revisionism concerns a subject…at the intersection of masculinity, gender, aggression, hierarchy, race, and class. This subtle, important book forces rethinking not just about one particular hormone, but about the way the scientific process is embedded in social context.”—Robert M. Sapolsky, author of Behave
“A beautifully written and important book. The authors present strong and persuasive arguments that demythologize and defetishize T as a molecule containing quasi-magical properties, or as exclusively related to masculinity and males.”—Los Angeles Review of Books
“A critique of both popular and scientific understandings of the hormone, and how they have been used to explain, or even defend, inequalities of power.”—The Observer
Testosterone is a familiar villain, a ready culprit for everything from stock market crashes to the overrepresentation of men in prisons. That’s a lot to pin on a simple molecule.
But your testosterone level doesn’t actually predict your competitive drive, appetite for risk, sex drive, strength, or athletic prowess. It isn’t the biological essence of manliness—in fact, it isn’t even a male sex hormone. So what is it, and how did we come to endow it with such superhuman powers? This unauthorized biography pries the much-maligned T free from over a century of misconceptions.
T’s story begins long before the hormone was even isolated, when scientists first went looking for the chemical essence of masculinity. Over time, this molecule provided a handy rationale for countless behaviors—from the boorish to the enviable. Today, as competitive athletes turn to testosterone for competitive advantage, and we continue to debate what it means to be a man or woman, it is back in the news again. What we think we know about T has stood in the way of an accurate understanding of its surprising functions and effects. Rebecca Jordan-Young and Katrina Karkazis focus on what T does in six domains: reproduction, aggression, risk-taking, power, sports, and parenting. At once arresting and deeply informed, Testosterone lets us see the real T for the first time.