I got the opportunity to be part of a Huffington Post Live chat on menopause last week. (You can watch it here http://huff.lv/WiP0bQ; watch until the end or you’ll want to curl into the fetal position and whimper). Near the end of the show, someone tweeted asking whether, given the hot flashes, mood swings, and memory loss issues, menopausal women should be prevented from running for office. I’m fairly certain that someone was a non-uteral-American.
I didn’t get a chance to punch this individual personally, so I thought I’d blog about it instead.
Yes, women have hormones. We have then when we’re teenagers, when we’re in our childbearing years, during menopause, and beyond. And yes, our hormones influence our behavior and thinking. What woman can say she hasn’t eaten an entire bag of Snickers Bars while PMSing or bought a dress two sizes too small because it was on sale and she was ovulating?
Guys love to harp on women’s hormonal issues. According to a 2005 survey of men’s attitudes about PMS, 40% said that women with PMS “emit a negative force,” (“Come to the dark side, Luke, where you will learn how to operate a vacuum cleaner or I will cut off your manhood with my estrogen-powered light sword!”).
But let’s talk about men’s hormones, why don’t we? Even though men’s bodies produce just smidges of estrogen and progesterone, their testosterone level is, on average, ten times what women’s is. Giddy-up! A man’s testosterone rises when he drinks alcohol, sees an action movie, plays video games, or plays or watches sports. There’s even a hormonal reason guys get depressed when their favorite sports team loses – their testosterone can fall by as much as 20% as a result (or spike by 20% if the team wins).
While estrogen is the hormone of nurturing and helping others, testosterone is all about competitiveness, aggression, and taking risks for the sake of proving one’s manhood. Testosterone causes men to start fights, start wars, and start affairs. Quick, name three hot-flashing, mood-swinging, memory-losing menopausal women who have declared war in a fit of hormones… I’ll wait… Yeah, that’s what I thought.
So if we’re going to start hormone-testing anyone before allowing him or her to run for government office, a test for overly high testosterone should be our priority. After all, who do you want with their finger on the red button, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Oprah Winfrey?