Testosterone=Logic? Not in my world.

November 8, 2007 at 1:12 am (feminism, television)

I was watching one of my guilty pleasures, Miami Ink earlier today.  To defend my TV viewing choice, I watch it mainly because I love tattoos and hearing the stories behind peoples’ tattoos.  They had an interesting client for this week’s episode.  It was a man who got a tattoo of a type of fish which can change gender under certain circumstances.  It was fitting for this man because he was actually born a genetic female but underwent gender-reassignment surgery to become male.  This in and of itself is not very remarkable, and I am always very pleased to hear when individuals like this man are able to become their true gender.  Because really, who’s business is it if someone want to change genders?

The point that did get me thinking (and a little peeved) the rest of the day was what he said about the effects he observed in himself upon taking high doses of testosterone.  Basically, he said he was finally able to “think”.  He could be “logical”, he finally understood directions.  Everything just became clear to him.  Umm, excuse me?  Wow, way to give license to the testosterone-dripping tattoo artists to slam women.  I absolutely have to call bull-shit on this guy.  Certainly something changed within him psychologically as well as physically, but to say that only with massive doses of male hormone is he able to think logically?  Please.

I take major issue with anyone who implies that women can’t think logically.  As a scientist, I definitely use that side of my brain more, and I think I am easily on par with my male peers as far as logic goes.  I actually get very annoyed when people (men and women both) use emotional or poorly thought out arguments when discussing things with me.  And as far as the directions thing goes?  This one is such a trite stereotype its barely worth addressing.  Needless to say, I know plenty examples of each gender that are either above or below average with the directions.  I myself have a good sense of direction, which, when driving, partially makes up for my comically bad depth perception.

And what he didn’t mention (not that he had a lot of time on the show) were the qualities he lost out on.  As long as we’re spouting out cliches and stereotypes lets talk about what women are good at.  Did he, for instance, lose his ability to multi-task?  What about his time management skills…his sense of empathy…communication skills…nourishing behaviors…

Actually, in all seriousness, I think that studying trans-gendered individuals would be very valuable for delineating the affects of testosterone and estrogen on personalities and behavioral traits.  Who better to study than those who have experienced both?  I’m not calling this guy a liar (completely), but when you hold knowledge like this, try to do something better with it than to put down women and further stereotypes.  It will serve both genders better.

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Sexy Cancer?

September 3, 2007 at 9:20 pm (feminism, opinions, television)

In the weekly Feministing reader I came across this article about the “Crazy Sexy Cancer”
story.  I have seen ads on TLC for this and for reasons I cannot quite articulate, it really bothers me.  I guess the whole point of it is to show that these women are empowered to fight this horribly disease, which it truly a worthwhile message.  These women are putting a positive spin on their strength and determination.

Here are a couple of explanations I could come up with, and these apply just to the title and premise of the show:

  • It implies that even in the face of pain and illness, women are expected to be upbeat, cheerful and sexy.  Their ultimate goal is to go into their MRI or their chemo treatment, or surgery with a big, toothy smile on their face .
  • The name of the TV show itself is quite flippant and juvenile and evokes images of bright pink Chick-Lit novels one would read over a margarita at the beach.
  • It somehow gives the impression that there is always some happy ending, which there isn’t.  Cancer treatments have advanced by leaps and bounds in the last few decades, but it is still and incredibly difficult disease to treat and live with.
  • I think the women battling cancer can be crazy, beautiful, sexy, empowered, whatever she wants to be, but the disease itself is none of the above.

I know it seems cold and callused to criticize this, and I have absolutely no idea how I would view it if I were personally affected by cancer.  With my work, I am definitely on the periphery of how cancer affects the patient and their family.  I know a lot about the molecular workings of cancer, but my education is lacking any emphasis on the emotional or even symptomatic aspects of the disease.  As a cancer researcher, I am always eager to learn from those who are more intimately affected by the disease.  I’d be interested to hear what others think about the idea of this show.

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