(Image of my high 4th-to-2nd digit ratio, to be uploaded as soon as $@!# Blogger lets me.)
Some of the course material I cover in one of the classes I teach deals with testosterone and its role in social dynamics. I have become obsessed with testosterone because I am convinced that I have more than the average woman's share of it.
1. One outwardly observable sign of greater exposure to androgens during gestation is a markedly longer ring finger than index finger. Unlike most women, whose ring and index fingers are about the same length, my ring finger could KO my index finger in a single round.
2. I have two older brothers. Recent research suggests that the mother's body "remembers" carrying male fetuses and that this somehow results in greater exposure to androgens in later pregnancies. Homosexuality, which has been associated in research with androgenic action during gestation, is significantly more prevalent among boys with older brothers than first-born boys. I'm not sure if the same association appears for girls, but the pattern fits so I'm sticking to it.
3. One of my older brothers is a textbook case of Asperger's syndrome. Musical genius with a hyperlexic talent for punning and poetry, he can't maintain eye contact for the life of him and misinterprets people's intentions as fluently as other people breathe. Consequently, he's a total social outcast and can't hold down a job. The "systematizing" (as opposed to empathizing) aspect of autistic-spectrum disorders like Asperger's is likened to "extreme male brain."
One of the researchers advancing this theory is Simon Baron Cohen. His cousin is comedic actor Sascha Baron Cohen. Neat, huh? Anyway, autistic-spectrum disorders appear to be hereditary.
4. I'm by no means autistic or Asperger-y myself, but I have always found female social dynamics a mystery. I'm forever missing some subtle cue that, I'm told, I "should have" automatically picked up on at the moment. This has pissed my mom off countless times and resulted in an obsession with two reality shows, the defunct Sorority Life
and the very much funct America's Next Top Model
, because they're all about female social dynamics. I'm not saying they represent all women, just that they allow me to observe the way some groups of women interact without actually having to put myself in harm's way. Need I mention that I wasn't in a sorority myself? I prefer to view the animals from the safety of the zoo.
5. My right, or spatial, brain craves activity. After my high school calculus grade went from an A to a D (due to a rift with my teacher over nasty comments he made about my oldest brother and his homosexuality), I figured I'd never take math again. When I went to grad school it was with much trepidation that I enrolled in the first of eight required statistics courses. It was revolutionary, like someone was finally speaking to me in my native tongue.
6. Greater-than-usual exposure to androgens during gestation is also associated with left-handedness (I'm ambidextrous).
7. I have no boobs. I realize this doesn't prove anything, especially given how many men I see with boobs these days, but it too fits the pattern so I'm sticking to it.
8. I love--LOVE--trains. And football season. (But not the Three Stooges. I didn't say I WAS a guy.)
Here's the thing: There is NO overlap, barring serious clinical hormonal imbalance, in the amount of testosterone men have and the amount women have. None. Men have, like, 40 times as much testosterone as women. But the differences, emotionally and behaviorally, between high- and low-testosterone women and high- and low-testosterone men are quite similar.
Compared to most women I know, I feel like a guy in borrowed woman-skin (ah, soft, silky borrowed woman-skin). Like I'm "passing" in the world of women. Among them but not entirely of
them. I've always chalked this up to being tall and having no boobs, but now that I know a little more about the biology behind sex hormones, I think it runs deeper than that.
It can get lonely here. But I take comfort in knowing that if I ever need to get out, I'll have excellent spatial skills to guide me, which is good because I won't be asking for directions.