Katrina Alicia Karkazis is an anthropologist and bioethicist. She has written widely on testosterone, intersex issues, sex verification in sports, treatment practices, policy and lived experiences, and the interface between medicine and society.
In 2016, she was jointly awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship with Rebecca Jordan-Young to work on a book on testosterone. Rebecca M. Jordan-Young is a sociomedical scientist whose research focuses on sex, gender, and sexuality, as well as the epidemiology of HIV/AIDS.
The two scientists published, in 2019, Testosterone – An Unauthorized Biography. The book demolishes all prejudices about the molecule called testosterone and restores its biological identity by dispelling all the myths about it. They concentrated their efforts on what testosterone does in reproduction, aggression, risk-taking, power, sports, and parenting.
The truth about testosterone
It all started in the nineteenth-century when scientists went looking for the chemical essence of masculinity. They found that in humans and most other vertebrates, testosterone is secreted primarily by the testicles of males and, to a lesser extent, the ovaries of females. And that started the avalanche.
Testosterone became the reason and explanation for countless social phenomena. Primarily for male social dominance, sexual appetite, up to the extent of violence and rape. The stock market crash, the overrepresentation of men in prisons, and male dominance in business and politics became the consequence of the higher presence of testosterone in men than in women.
Although the book might be subject to debate and the two scientists conspicuously suspected of feminism, the research has a point: men shouldn’t accept being reduced to the simplistic goodwill of a molecule. Not to mention that women produce it too.
Testosterone has nothing to do with sexuality in men
There is no correlation between higher testosterone levels and greater sexual assertiveness in either sex. For men, there is no corresponding decrease in the ability to engage in sexual activity if testosterone is eliminated. Positive orgasm experience in women is correlated with testosterone levels. There is no correlation between testosterone and men’s perceptions of their orgasm experience.
Testosterone is responsible for increased muscle and bone mass, maturation of the sex organs, particularly the penis and the formation of the scrotum in the fetus, deepening of the voice, growth of facial hair, and axillary hair. It also influences the development of embryos, muscles, female as well as male brains, and red blood cells. But it can’t be a reasonable explanation of why men are violent and make poor decisions. It should always be a matter of rational choice.
Biologically, there is no evidence that the men with a higher predisposition for violence, exacerbated sexuality, or temper tantrums also have higher testosterone levels than men who don’t. One should know that testosterone is as much trigger for violence as it is for generosity. So, it’s behavior, emotion, and reason that trigger those predispositions. Not a molecule. Biology doesn’t require this behavior, but reason indulges it.