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The Truth, Mainly - 02/24/1992

Spring high point for sexual politics

I've been in a deep funk for several weeks now, ever since I found out from Time that I'm not always hitting on all my mental cylinders. In the intellectual journey of life, I sometimes show up at the wrong gate. My synapses don't always snap.

It was an article about gender differences and it said that males go through hormonal cycles too, not monthly but annually. High testosterone in the fall, low in the spring. That news doesn't bother me. What bothers me is the news that as testosterone rises, intelligence drops. The more male we become, the dumber we get.

"That's news?" my wife says. "Seems to me self evident, a redundancy, a tautology. It's like saying the more mud you put in your eye the less you see."

"Oh yeah?" I shoot right back at her. "The article also says males are superior to females in spatial logic. We have an impeccable sense of where we are because we had to spatially orient ourselves to the mastodon hunting grounds while you girls tidied up the cave and wondered which way was north."

That's when she brings up that little problem we had in Marshalltown, Iowa, last October. We got lost. I was driving. It was dark and I was taking a shortcut another guy told me about. Her position was that we should stay on the road we already knew; my position was where would we be if Columbus had done that instead of discovering India? When the shortcut got really dark and narrow, her position was that we should turn around and go back to the road we already knew; my position was that all we had to do was follow the semi in front of us because truck drivers always know where they're going.

This one was going home. He pulled up in front of a house on a deadend street, took out his suitcase, and went inside. So we turned around and tried to find our way back to the road we already knew. It took a while and my wife made comments.

Now she calls that the Great Navigational Black Hole of Marshalltown.

"Don't get too close to Marshalltown," she tells our sons, "or your male spatial logic will get sucked into the Great Navigational Black Hole there."

Then she laughs. She's easily amused.

But I feel better now that I've read the Time piece. Remember, Marshalltown was in October. The high testosterone-low intelligence season. Not my fault. Part of Nature's plan. Less than a month later I read an AP story that said males should wait until spring to take their SATs and I was feeling so wolfy I didn't get it. I had a strong urge to hunt mastodon, so I did what seemed like the next best thing: I broke up some concrete with my 16-pound sledge hammer and got a bad backache. It felt good. November. Football season. Yee haw.

The Truth, Mainly


But I'm seeing things more clearly now; it's late February and the testosterone is falling and I'm getting smarter. And here's what puts me in a funk: election year politics. The spring primaries are as good as it's going to get. Within the next two or three months the male politicians will be as smart as they're going to be. And by the general election in November, they'll be at their dumbest.

That explains Michael Dukakis sounding like a plausible candidate in the 1988 spring primaries, then in the fall having his picture taken pretending to drive a tank, his head rattling around inside an oversized helmet, grinning like the town loony.

That explains George Bush being able to detect "voodoo" when he was running against Reaganomics in the spring primaries of 1980, then in the fall of 1988 chanting like a witch doctor: "Read my lips; no new taxes. Read my lips; no new taxes."

But my wife tells me not to worry my pretty little head over the fall election. It'll be painless, she says.

"By then," she tells me, patting me on the hand, "it'll be that time of year and you won't understand what's going on anyway."

She says that half the population will be so testosterone-logged by November that we'll be thinking—she's not sure that's the right word—hey, the Pledge of Allegiance really is a great campaign issue, and golly, wouldn't it be neato-jet to invade somebody and bust up their sidewalks with 16-pound sledge hammers?

She also says there's an alternative: run Barbara Bush against Hillary Clinton and disinfranchise anyone who sets off the alarm in the testosto-detector tunnels we'll make everyone walk through to get to the voting booths. But where in this land, she asks with that flawed spatial logic of hers, is there a party hack free enough of his glands to see the wisdom of that?


Satterfield is a college professor and writes as a means of discovery.


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