Ladies, have I got a protip for you! Do not Google any topic that includes the words female, leadership, and hormones. Don’t do it because you will see pages and pages of articles like this and this and this, leading you to assault your own computer, and repairs will be expensive. Also, “hormones” will be blamed for the tech-assault.
Since the dawn of time, men have splained why female biology is a disqualifier for BIG JOBS. You know, the kinds of jobs requiring rational thought, steady nerves, and unwavering emotional control. Some women (see the first “this” hyperlink above, or just conjure up Phyllis Schlafly in your mind) are so hoodwinked by patriarchy, so self-loathing, and so intent on defending their captors from inside a bank vault in Sweden that they aid and abet male gaslighting of women over their menstrual cycles or their menopause, and then collect some good-girl cookies.
It’s as if females, from the time of their first period until they are dead, just can’t be trusted because they have ovaries. And those ovaries (and other glands) produce — or stop producing — female hormones. These opposite things are somehow simultaneously baaaad! Have some estrogen and progesterone cycling around in your body? Go lie down with a heating pad. Getting older and experiencing a decrease in those hormones? Just go lie down — your erotic capital is all used up, batty old girl. Breastfeeding a baby? Now you’ve got an artisanal cocktail of oxytocin and prolactin making magic in your boobies and killing your brain cells at the same time. It’s a wonder you can get the shopping done.
I puzzle over what it’s like to evade such extreme cognitive dissonance. Does one essentially have to reroute the normal thinking process to arrive at the preordained conclusion through some neural wormhole? Wait, don’t answer that. I have a better idea.
Let’s talk about male hormones! They’re the best kind, am I right? The smart kind. The leadership kind. Male hormones have never caused any problematic emotions or behaviors in men, have they? Testosterone = The Good Stuff. It’s so good, let’s review some male leaders from history who have paved the way to a better world with their testosterone:
Attila the Hun
Ivan the Terrible (really terrible guy)
Vlad the Impaler (don’t read about him)
The Josef’s—Stalin and Mengele
Joseph Kony (spelled the right way)
Muammar Gaddafi (however you spell it)
Everyone in ISIS
Everyone in Boko Haram
Idi Amin Dada
Kim Jong-il & un (I scratched them off because I’m kind of worried now)
Osama Bin Laden
The names of all other committers of genocide I (shamefully) can’t remember (Rwandan, Serbo-Croation, Armenian, Native American, etc.)
Such a misleadingly short list, but it’s off the top of my head, so cut me some slack. There must be a better list somewhere on the Internet of 1500 of the world’s most evil, cruel, and corrupt leader types, and there’s probably 1489 men on it and 11 women. Oh, and I forgot to add Wayne LaPierre. Shoot.
What’s that you say? Women have a little testosterone too, and men have a little estrogen? You can’t just blame testosterone for men people who exercise poor judgment and do violent things? “Women are violent too?” I know, I know. I look around the world and all I see is female violence. “What about how society shapes what it means to be a man and how men are viewed?” Great point! Kind of the same point for all those women judged incompetent for leadership.
Back to male hormones. There are good things about testosterone, like the way it builds strong bones and muscles, or makes guys grow sexy chest hair. But I’m seeing a pattern to violence and aggression and the clouded judgment that unleashes that angry poison onto the world, namely that it is usually male. In fact, we’ve kind of got a history of problematic male leadership because of their… shhhhh… h o r m o n e s.
I’ve got an idea. How about if all hormone-having humans get to be leaders, and no penis-having humans make a red herring issue out of the hormones of vagina-having humans? Because that might be a tad hypocritical, and also, dickish. We could also ask vagina-having humans not to do the men’s dirty work for them by also hyperbolizing about female hormones. It’s a small request, really, not much to ask at all.
It’s all settled then! So glad.
Lori Day is an educational psychologist, consultant and parenting coach with Lori Day Consulting in Newburyport, MA. She is the author of Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More, and speaks on the topic of raising confident girls in a disempowering marketing and media culture. You can connect with Lori on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.