Some physiologists place the blame for misogyny and patriarchy squarely at the pedestal of male biochemistry. Homo sapiens’ extraordinarily high levels of testosterone, they point out, lie behind his domineering and sometimes cruel treatment of women. Testosterone builds muscle mass, increases strength and stamina, and fuels aggression. Men have as much as ten times more circulating testosterone than women do.

Testosterone shapes men’s attitudes toward the weak, timid, and cautious, because it makes them want to dominate those around them. This hormone weakens the bonds of attachment and love. Married men have lower levels than single men, and when a man divorces, it rises sharply. Men with high baseline levels of testosterone marry less frequently, are more likely to be abusive when they do, and are more likely to divorce. Some physiologists contend that misogyny is an insoluble problem because of this harsh biochemical fact of life.

Supporting the claim is the correlation between testosterone levels and a man’s attitude toward women. Men are the most misogynistic immediately following puberty. Generally, as men age and their testosterone levels fall, their disposition toward women improves. Some might say it is due to a man’s gaining experience; others would claim that his change of heart has more to do with his failing testicles.

– Leonard Shlain, Sex, Time, and Power: How Women’s Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution (2003)


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