Study Says Babies Make Men Less Masculine, More Nurturing

Illustration for article titled Study Says Babies Make Men Less Masculine, More Nurturing

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests men's testosterone levels fluctuate when they have children.

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The study measured the testosterone levels of 600 participants when they were 21-years-old and then again when they were 25. Men with high testosterone levels were more likely to find a mate and father a child. After having a child, though, their testosterone levels dropped significantly. And the more time these fathers spent with their children, the lower their testosterone level was. Single men, however, had a steady level of testosterone after four years.

The researchers suggest this physiological reaction is beneficial to the father as he needs to be more nurturing and less aggressive after having a child. Though he may not like the idea of losing some of his testosterone-fueled manhood, these changes may help him become a better father. [Scientific American; Image from AnnaKostyuk/Shutterstock]

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DISCUSSION

joshuabardwell
Joshua Bardwell

I'd like to call out the way in which this headline and article contributes to the propagation of sexist ideas about masculinity. The definition of "masculine" is, "possessing qualities or characteristics considered typical of or appropriate to a man." If you think about it, things that happen to men ought to be, by definition "masculine." When they are not, it reveals a disconnect between our idea of what a man "should" be and what he actually is.

Men, in general, father babies. Fathering babies is masculine.

Men, in general, have a testosterone drop after fathering babies, and become more nurturing. This is also masculine.

What you're doing in the article, with phrases like, "losing his testosterone-fueled manhood," is propagating the idea that only aggressive, testosterone-laden men are truly "men" and "masculine," and that men who are not aggressive and testosterone-laden are actually effeminate. To put it another way, only young men who have not had children yet (the most testosterone-laden of us all) are truly "men." This is a harmful stereotype. Being a gadgets blog and not a sociology blog, I don't expect you to know any better, but I'm not going to let it slide either.