Oh Testosterone!

Oddly enough, for someone like me who has hated the radio for most of his life, I LOVE the podcasting phenomenon. Radio started to irritate me at about 16 – partly because I like picking my own music, but mostly because of the gol-danged commercials.

30 years on, needing to listen to something at my desk-job, I discover lectures, interviews and awesome public radio that I can listen to whenever I want! With no commercials! I’m now a devotee of the podcast. Last week Marjan shared with me her discovery of This American Life, and yesterday I “tuned in”. It’s awesome. You should listen to it. Like my other favourite, RadioLab, it takes a sprawling topic – like “time” or “space” – and shares three or four excellent pieces that relate to that topic.

Yesterday’s foray into This American Life featured an amazing hour on Testosterone, and I found it revealing, affirming, and best of all, relieving. The show starts off with a dude my age talking about having come of age with the weird knowledge that there is something fucked up and a little scary about Men. It was this fellow’s idea to tackle the topic. Not to tell or spoil too much, but it’s a knockout show.

The highest point for me I AM going to spoil right here: a woman who in her twenties becomes a man, starting off with a massive dose of the Hormone of Desire, testosterone, and shares her/his experience. First thing she shares is her astonishment that when checking out the sexual potential of any subway car, she’s turned into a caveman. Whereas once she would look at someone and think, “Oh, she’s pretty. What’s she reading? Wish I could talk to her…”, post-testosterone, she wants to just fuck everybody on the car who is vaguely attractive! A second anecdote has her finding out how HARD it is to not turn and check out a babe on the street, despite her being a former woman and a feminist. She resists for an entire block and then turns to visually sample someone’s rack. I laughed out loud! Yes, I thought! It’s not just me! And it’s not all my fault!

Here’s a slice of the show, if you’re innarested. The entire thing can be heard here, and the show’s website is here.

The relevant music for this post was not hard to decide upon: Moe Berg has been one of my favourite songwriters since The Pursuit of Happiness’s first record, largely because he tackles this thorny topic with aplomb, regulary. On their first record he summed up my experience of sexuality at 19 in a series of blasting rawk songs – one, say, about feeling bad that a friend feels pressured to give head to an asshole boyfriend, another about hating sex for the way it can hurt, and these next two.

Walking In The Woods – about seeing and instantly loving a woman on the subway, feeling bad about not getting to meet her. It’s not Berg’s best song, with the surprise ending seeming a little contrived, but there’s a woman inside this dude for sure, just like I think there is in me.

Looking For Girls – about wanting to get laid so bad you might even just rip your wang off and throw it at somebody.

Moe was always able to be BOTH of those guys, and I appreciated that. Maybe those two moods are just variances in testosterone levels from day to day. Maybe it’s the time of year, as Joni sang – or maybe it’s the time of man.


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