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Accepted Contribution:

The hormonalization of masculinity: testosterone tales  
Marlene Hartmann

Long abstract:

Past feminist research on sex hormones has primarily focused on how femininity has been reshaped by hormones. However, there is a rising tendency to figure masculinity in hormonal terms: Feminists speak of ‘testosterone fueled’ politics to call out the unduly influence of men, while manospherians insult liberal men as ‘soy boys’ who have been feminized by phytoestrogens. Older men, ‘fueled’ by the marketing strategies of the burgeoning global testosterone replacement market, urge their doctors to tend to their declining testosterone levels; meanwhile trans men face their own battles with the medical system to access testosterone.

The association with testosterone has ambivalent effects for masculinity. While testosterone provides another somatic anchorage for masculinity, hormones are also slippery entities troubling the modern ontology masculinity relies on. Hormones live in the borderlands of nature and culture. They turn bodies into leaky vessels, blurring the boundary between body and environment. Sex hormones are furthermore not stable entities loyal to gender binarism; testosterone may become estrogen through the biochemical process of aromatization.

Haraway, feminist materialism, and a touch of Latour in my backpack, I venture out to follow the well-travelled path of testosterone as the ‘essence of masculinity’, all the while staying open to being lured sideways and off the beaten track to discover testosterone, the trickster, capable of dis-figuring Man. How does the translation of masculinity in hormonal registers transform masculinity? How does hormonal masculinity handle the leakages described above? But also, what other stories is testosterone telling us if we listen in closely?

Combined Format Open Panel P271
Making and doing hormonal theory
  Session 1