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Testosterone, Boy-friends, and Dyslexia: how to discover who we are most truly

Testosterone, Boy-friends, and Dyslexia: how to discover who we are most truly 150 150 Nicole

Recently, research was published showing that men who attend to young children sustain lower levels of testosterone. Lee Gettler, an anthropologist at Northwestern University and co-author of the study, published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, remarks, “[This] should be viewed as, ‘Oh it’s great, women aren’t the only ones biologically adapted to be parents.’”[1]A propos to this research, another study reveals the intense need boys have to sustain deep, intimate relationships with other boys. The observations suggest that ignoring these vital relationships and/or labeling them as something they are not, may be quite dangerous. By the time these boys reach ages 15 and 16, “the suicide rate for American boys becomes about four times that of girls.”[2]
Still more, relevant inquiry indicates that there is negligible, statistically significant difference between the male and female brain (aside from that which pertains to looking for a mate, and “uncorrelated with any particular ability”). “Rather than being selfish and competitive, scientists are now revealing that the core of our humanity rests with our empathic, social, and cooperative nature. The fact that we care deeply about other people is precisely why we have thrived as a species…. [D]ata from a wide range of experts—stretching from neuroscientists and developmental psychologists to primatologists, and evolutionary anthropologists—indicate that caring about others and the desire for close relationships are not only human capacities and needs, they are essential for survival. In other words, what we have called ‘girly’ and ‘gay’ is, in fact, simply human and overwhelmingly important. Furthermore, researchers, such as neuroscientist Lise Eliot, find that gender differences in cognition and emotion have been greatly exaggerated.[3]
These significant pieces of information raise several important points. One, to focus on how each gender “thinks” and relates with the other (think, Mars and Venus) may be a waste of time. In fact, it might be counterproductive, and at the very least, counterintuitive. Every person is unique in personhood with innumerable environmental, physical, psychological, sociological and tradition-biased influences. Understanding some of these factors, rather than trying to place any of these characteristics into a gender box would eliminate a great deal of grief, and, perhaps releasing us from striving to be something, someone, we are not. Recent publications on dyslexic-style learning and processing is a great example of this. There is no indication that one gender presents as dyslexic over another. And, the strengths that dyslexic-style processing brings to the conversation that incudes non-dyslexics is creative, novel and beautiful, really.
A second point these studies suggest is that for all people intimate relationships are essential. We need them with those of opposite gender and we need them among the same gender. By drawing inferences that sexualize the relating between two people on first glance is utterly immoral, and tragically harmful. Instead of showing others how to be in good relationships, deepening fidelity in friendships, first we wonder how they are sexually oriented?! Of course, this pervasive inclination in reasoning plants the seed in impressionable young people such that they, in turn, raise the same questions about themselves. I do not advocate keeping young people ignorant about sexuality and the sexual act. I do, however, insist we as adults become more insistent about being examples of these chaste friendships (and, by chaste, I mean characterized by fidelity, commitment, intimacy of the soul and spirit). That we stride alongside developing souls, walking with them through negotiating and navigating their relationships.
Rather than demonizing, labeling as abominations the inclination of many to embrace a gay-lesbian lifestyle, those who are doing the judging might consider their own shares in such branding.  The 24/7 feature of our current and developing technologically driven existence, presenting as flashes before our eyes, is the antithesis of reflection and consideration. We make judgments based on stereotypical, socially derived characteristics. Though we consider ourselves advanced, sophisticated creatures, we are in practice being downgraded to more primitive, less insightful peoples. As reflected on in an early submission, we are quickly becoming shallow thinkers. The result is that we are not taking the requisite time to really cultivate deep, meaningful relationships. So, we make quick judgments (to the detriment of our young people, and our own health) and leave open a whole host of injuries: forcible physical intimacy; unreflective, reckless sexual behaviors; even suicide.
How much I long to see our youth understand who they are most truly as Image-bearers—unique, vital creatures. But we must first understand this for ourselves. How is it that we can truly know who we are? By being in relationship: deep, intimate and faithful, genuine and unconditional.

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About the author


Nicole Oliver Snyder’s expertise lies in the areas of leadership, gender issues, and mindfulness practice as it affects both. Leadership, particularly in an urban setting, requires community-relations skills, and an ability to clearly convey justice issues as they relate to felt, spiritual ones. Dr. Snyder is author of Leading Together: Mindfulness and the Gender Neutral Zone, and specializes in teaching mindfulness leadership development, formative spirituality, counseling, and Old Testament theology (emphasis on justice issues). She has a diverse background in international community-relations work combined with volunteer work in multi-ethnic communities, and with local institutions. She is an ordained Clergy; holds a BS in Human Development and Family Studies, w/Education Certificate, an MA-Counseling, MDiv Equiv., holds a Doctor of Ministry and Advanced Certification in Formative Spiritual Direction, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (CO, MI).

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