The sedation, subordination and emasculation of young men

Testosterone is an interesting hormone. The more a man uses it, the higher his levels become. And the higher his levels become, the more he wants to use it. Exercise, especially resistance training like weight lifting, increases T levels. And then the increased T levels make a man want to go lift some weights. It’s a virtuous circle.

If gasoline in a car were like T in a man’s body, the more you drove, and the harder you drove, the more gas there would be in your tank.

But there’s not much gas in the tank of young men these days. The Cleveland Clinic and other researchers report that men today, especially young ones, have less T than ten, twenty or fifty years ago. Odds are, you’re not the man your father was.

Testosterone does more than make a man want to hit the weights. It also makes him happier, healthier, sexier, more muscular, more productive, and more reproductive.

Notwithstanding BS about testosterone poisoning, in medicine there’s no such thing as too much T unless a person is taking anabolic steroids. But too little T is a common problem, and is frequently treated with T supplements that are absorbed through prescription lotions or skin patches.

So what has happened to the T levels in young men? I have several theories that are interrelated. Young men exercise less and eat more than they used to. When I was growing up, boys were usually skinny until well into their 20s. Now, boys stop being skinny by the time they’re teenagers.

Just as higher T levels produce more physical activity, and more physical activity produces higher T levels – that virtuous circle – it’s a fact that lower T levels produce less physical activity which produces lower T levels. The virtuous circle turns into a vicious one. The less you exercise, the less you want to.

Relatedly, young men take a lot of drugs these days. Some of that is pot, which is now very common. Anyone who has been around pot knows that it decreases a person’s ambition and physical activity.

Other drugs are medical treatments for perceived emotional disorders such as depression, hyperactivity, and attention deficits. In the old days, these “disorders” in boys were considered annoying but natural. But now, parents, teachers and ubiquitous counselors diagnose such boys as persons in need of pharmacological intervention.

My own observation is that these pharmacological interventions usually (but not always) hurt the boy more than they help him. Some depression, anxiety and mood swings are part of growing up. After you grow up, they’re part of life.

Medicating one’s way out of the pain and joy of life is no way to live. If Vincent van Gogh had been prescribed antidepressants, he might not have cut his ear off. But he might not have painted either. If Ernest Hemingway had been medicated, maybe he wouldn’t have put a shotgun to his head but maybe we wouldn’t have For Whom the Bell Tolls. If Abraham Lincoln had pharmacologically treated his frequent depression, he might have been more pleasant to be around but the Union might have lost the Civil War – and the diminished Free World might well have subsequently lost WWII or the Cold War.  

Whether these drugs hurt or help, they certainly have a sedating effect. Sedated boys are less physically active, which consequently lowers their T levels, which consequently lowers their activity levels. The boys’ parents and teachers, if not the boys themselves, like that. So do the pharmaceutical companies.

The plan is typically to administer these sedatives for a few months or maybe a few years, but it’s now common to see young men in their 30s who have been on them for decades – all their teenage years and adult lives.

Scientific American reports that at any given time one in six Americans is taking prescription mood altering drugs like antidepressants or lithium, and a far greater number have taken such drugs at one time or another. The study was done in the mid-2010s, and the number is certainly higher now.

Finally, there are societal pressures on boys to behave more like girls. At the extreme, this pressure pushes boys going through normal pre-teen and teenage sexual confusion and frustration into concluding they’re actually girls trapped in male bodies, notwithstanding that pesky Y chromosome.

That extreme is fortunately still relatively rare. But it’s not rare to pressure boys to behave in a way that is non-disruptive. Don’t act up, is the message. Old-time boyhood shenanigans, like cutting off a girl’s pigtail, are now likely to produce a trip not to the principal’s office but to the police station. The pressure not to be disruptive extends to the natural T-driven ambitions of boys and young men.

Achievement, creativity, strength and independence are all discouraged. Merit has been abolished, all creativity is deemed equal in quality, strength is something to be ashamed of, and independence is considered sociopathic.

And so here we are. Young men – the human demographic that historically and anthropologically has been the strongest and most ambitious – are pussies. Another Hemingway, another van Gogh and another Lincoln are out there somewhere. It’s a pity they’ll never create their masterpieces.

37 thoughts on “The sedation, subordination and emasculation of young men

  1. As an aside, the millions of you men coming across our southern border, in nearly all cases I presume, do not fit the “pussy” category. The consequences we are only beginning to realize.

    • Si, see: A superior Man can be forged within a crucible of determination, perspiration and desperation.
      Versus, an entitled, angry, Minecraft-and-Meth addicted clone.

      Anyway, Beaton hit another one out of the park.

  2. Whoa! Another great essay and possibly exploring the reason behind male teen suicides. I have always believed that “boys will be boys,” is a parental cop out for those who do not teach self control, but the drugging of normal behavior is horrifying

    • Ironically, the performers are suitably and typically androgynous in appearance. Does the persona really want to be a boy? Perhaps he’s discovered that the way to get girls is to look like one. Whatever. So many of our present neuroses seemed to originate circa 1965.

      • I believe the decline was accelerated by the removal of Biblical Christianity from America’s public school curriculum when the Supreme Court suddenly–after 200 years–discovered that the Constitution required such an action in the name of “freedom of religion.” Tortured logic begets tortured results. And now we see that the same Constitution demands that the religion of homosexuality and debauchery of every stripe must be accommodated–but never, under any circumstances, Christianity.

      • And how pathetic that “Christian” churches are now attempting to keep their numbers up by embracing the new religion — with homo and lesbian bishops and rainbow flags everywhere, and “men” as we have known them in short supply, both in the priesthood and in the pews. Of course, sodomy and pederasty are also fueled by testosterone, I suppose, so I don’t know where this fits into Glenn’s discussion. As he has said elsewhere, our problem is less about what’s between our legs than about what’s between our ears.

      • To rkd — Since you invoke Jesus and grindstones, I’ll remind you of one of his most famous strictures— “It were better for him that a millstone be hanged around his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.” What both Glenn and Steve are decrying is a culture that is indeed causing little ones of the male sex to stumble, thereby hastening civilizational suicide.

  3. Excellent article, as usual, Glenn. Wouldn’t mind adding a small caveat: too much testosterone “may” have a slight chance of enlarging the prostate. Otherwise, all good!

    • If you’re referring to enlargement caused by prostate cancer, it’s certainly true that prostate cancer cells need T to thrive, but they need only very, very small amounts of it. That’s why T-killing chemical therapy for prostate cancer patients who don’t get cured by prostatectomies or radiation therapy requires T levels to be reduced to practically zero — it’s like castration. It’s fortunately reversible by discontinuing the therapy, but in the meantime they experience significant physical and emotional issues.

      • Glenn: I think and hope you are correct! I take testosterone supplements, and, at age 77, my level last week was 1157 ng/dL. If you read this article, it is not definite, but one possible side effect is enlarged prostate. Not that I worry too much about that. But it possibly could be a consideration in a man with previously enlarged prostate! I am NOT an MD! But see two of them: one says “you cannot have enough,” and the other wants me to not “overdo it!”

  4. As a physician, when I worked in clinics or the ER, very few young men were on psychotropics. Most of those taking psychotropics were young and middle aged women. That doesn’t change any of your other hypotheses but I doubt that any decrease in average level of testosterone among young men can be attributed to psychotropic meds.

  5. “Vocal fry” the emasculation can even be heard in the inflection. It’s so annoying. Look at their arms. I read a study once that asserted that young men put on a weight-lifting program became more conservative as their biceps measurement increased. The conclusion was that strength equaled self-confidence and that lead to a sense of self-reliance that created a right-leaning attitude.

    I have often thought that the lack of hard labor blue-collar work experience has been terribly damaging to the self-esteem of many who go on to elite educations and leadership roles. “When I was a kid,” most of us, even if college-bound or in college spent summers in construction, in factories, or on farms. I can remember well being teased as a “college boy” by the men I was working with. I had the lowest, dirtiest, least skilled jobs. Carrying hod, setting forms, cleaning up.

    Not only did I learn what it meant to get really bone tired from a full day of work- which meant I really knew why I was going to school- there’s no romance in it. I also learned respect for the people who use their bodies and minds to make everything in the real world work.

    I think there’s a sense of shame among men who have never done that work or been in the service and I think their guilt gets transformed into contempt. This warps their approach to policy. I think it’s why it was so easy for them to put the 1/6 rioters in no-bail detention for two years and to give them wildly disproportionate sentences.

    The men with their testosterone intact shame the “men without chests” and they resent it.

    • You have mentioned both work experience and being in the service. It seems clear that, whatever the manifold causes of their emasculation, the consequences are (a) seven million young men currently missing from the workforce and (b) some 100,000 of them causing the military branches to fall short of their recruitment goals, despite the influx of woke substitutes such as women with two mothers, and so forth. Where are they, and what are they doing, apart from living in their parents’ basements and showing up for Antifa demonstrations?

    • You also mention “vocal fry,” which along with “upspeak,” is bad enough coming from a woman; from a man, it’s beyond sad.

      • Is using vocal fry maybe a passive-aggressive attempt to appear as though you don’t really care if the listener is listening as a show of dominance?

    • “I have often thought that the lack of hard labor blue-collar work experience has been terribly damaging to the self-esteem of many who go on to elite educations and leadership roles.”

      So many true statements there. However, the most nefarious of all is sending your kids to “elite educations” or any higher education for that matter. It’s truly like playing Russian Roulette with their mind and, very possibly, your relationship with that child. I know many who have a tough time at the dinner table with their kids once they’ve been intellectually poisoned by the “all knowing” professors. Especially the daughters.

    • Thanks for your comment. It remins me of something I read a few years ago when destroyong statues was being condoned and in many instances encouraged:
      The Nature Of The Monument Destroyers
      By Connie Chastain
      “…Destroying Confederate heritage is an early phase, a trial run, you might say. They have the same fate in mind for the legacy of the Founders… not just monuments and statues, but the very country they crafted. They want to destroy every aspect of the culture — Christianity, the family, private property, education, historical memory, our cultural cohesiveness, our very identity as western man.
      Western man. Man. Men. The left hates nothing the way they hate masculinity. From “feminism”, which is not about equality for women but about hating and hurting men … from feminizing industry, education, the military, church leadership, the popular culture, the government to the demonization of “dead white males” the left hates virility.
      VIRILE, VIRILITY characterized by a vigorous, masculine spirit: manly character, vigor, or spirit; masculine energy, forcefulness, or strength in a marked degree.
      “…Our Confederate heroes were some of history’s manliest of men. Even in cold, lifeless bronze, Davis, Beauregard and Lee exuded a level of virility that shames Mitch Landrieu…”

      • Laugh at heroes and you breed cowards said a British general long ago. It was criminal that the police were ordered to permit this ignorant vandalism. And, as predicted Lincoln, Jefferson, and TR were all taken down or exiled. They are still at work- the magnificent Confederate Memorial at Arlington is being destroyed by our defense department. They promised to leave the graves alone- they lied.

  6. I was a 9th grade teacher before 9/11 and I had a tall, energetic boy in class who’d regularly go to the office to get his “medication” for one of the alphabet so-called “diseases/problems” and when he returned he was glassy eyed and moving kinda slow. I felt sorry for him because obviously his parents and the school were ok with him being drugged out.

  7. Over the years, have often read accusations of ‘testosterone poisoning’ in reference to masculine men being masculine men. For the halibut, I did a search on ‘estrogen poisoning’. Found out that this is real.

  8. From one of your readers on Lucianne comes another perspective — It’s the porn, stupid. Throw in the allure of video games, and the devices that bring it all to us, and it’s little wonder that young men seldom leave the couch.

  9. The culture we currently live in is not new. It’s just another attempt by man to destroy God’s people. Remove leadership & confuse the human and he will waste the gifts & time he has been given to grow the kingdom of God. Fear!!! That is what our current leadership in all aspects of life spews at its citizens & audience. We become gridlocked & without direction. Hopeless, useless. Where is our courage to make a difference for someone other than ourselves?
    What value or purpose are we giving our children today? Everyone needs a mission. We have been created & designed for a specific purpose. Greater than I or me. Where is the leadership in our families, schools, activities that teaches and helps our children know & develop their value, worth as a man or woman?
    Man is flawed. It is evident in every situation man is involved in. We can cite the articles you write about and bring to the light that the underlying issue is caused by us the human. Who thinks we can remove or ignore God because we know better. It is our responsibility “parents”, grandparents, etc. to teach our children from whom their value comes from.
    We have removed from our homes and schools Our Creator. How can we possibly know who or what we are here for? Knowing why you’re on the earth is necessary for determining your direction. A compass is critical to navigation.
    How often do we utilize driving directions? If you want to go to Aspen from Denver, taking I-70 east will not get you there without a change of direction.
    Wake up, what we’re living is not new for mankind, just new people experiencing it.
    Read the Bible like a history book or self help. Everything you need to know is in the Bible.
    Choose to follow Jesus, you will eventually arrive Home where you belong. What happens between birth & earthly death is your choice. God gave you free will.
    We have the compass & leadership if we choose to develop & invest in humanity as God designed. Give to God what is God’s. Whose imprint is on you? Blessings for your journey home.

    • Most Americans are vaguely spiritual, though most are not Christians (though many half-heartedly profess that they are). But even people who are just vaguely spiritual tend to believe in quasi-religious principles like “be all you can be.” That’s a principle of all religions and all spirituality, because all religions and spirit-minded people believe that life is a gift from a higher power, and we owe it to that power to make the most of that gift.

      Today, however, more Americans than ever before are not even vaguely spiritual. “Be all you can be” is met with “Why? Why bother? Why not just pleasure and please myself? Pass the pot, please.”

      To a person that is not even vaguely spiritual, there are no persuasive answers to those questions.

      The irony, of course, is that their single-minded pursuit of pleasure produces unhappiness. People are not really wired for constant pleasure. They’re wired for work and commitment.

      • I’m sure you’ve read one of John Eldredge’s books, “Wild at Heart (Discovering the secret of a Man’s Soul)”.
        From “Wild at Heart”….”The problem with men, we are told, is that they don’t know how to keep their promises, be spiritual leaders, talk to their wives, or raise their children. But if they try really hard, they can reach the lofty summit of becoming…a nice guy. That’s what we hold up as models of Christian maturity: Really Nice Guys.”
        And this, “We’ve taken away the dreams of a man and told him to “play” man. As C.S. Lewis said, “We castrate the [stallion] and bid him be fruitful.”‘
        “Deep in his heart, every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. That is how he bears the image of God: that is what God made him to be.”
        I first became aware of this book when in my early 50s. I would have liked to have read it when I was in my mid-teens.

      • Thank you for this. (All three of you.) Considering the statement, “. . . every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue” — a spirit that the Christ (the God-Man) perfectly exemplified, I have to ask, is psychiatry alone sufficient to explain the spirit of the young man who finds his battle and adventure in the act of shooting up a school? Even secularists pronounce such an act as “evil,” but what do they mean by this word? And if the shooter in his warped, twisted soul sees himself as rescuing some beauty, what does this say about the state of public education in our world?

      • To B.K., I believe that it was Dave Chappell that once stated out in front of God and everybody:
        “To what degree am I required to participate in another person’s self-image?”

        That act of shooting up a school may have its roots in the various forms of televised devaluing of human life. The orange-haired person who devalued human life at the Aurora movie theater did his dirty deed not at his school. Two of the most recent mass murder news stories gave us two Asian senior residents of CA. The middle-aged man on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is still confusing the “experts”. The death of T. Nichols in Memphis is most likely the result of a neighborhood’s authority figures being disrespected by someone from their own tribe.

        Maybe the messages on the backs of those NFL team helmets will help prevent future horrors. We can hope and even pray that more young men engage in their life’s battles and adventures after taking some deep breaths and deciding to “CHOOSE LOVE”.

      • B.K., our nation’s public education system is being manipulated by the statue destroyers. Our nation’s parents need to expend just as much energy teaching their children right from wrong without the woke government bureaucrats forcefully stepping in to regulate the parent’s rights to raise their children according to our nation’s traditional values. Resistance is not futile although it appears to be. I can hope, can’t I?

      • Philip — To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Malvolio, some of us are born woke, some acquire wokeness, and some have wokeness thrust upon us, such as NFL players asked to display PC bromides of the “Choose love” variety on their helmets, while simultaneously rolling up their sleeves for yet another mandatory Covid booster. My idea of a man is Ivan Provorov, the Philadephia Flyers player who declined to wear a Pride Night jersey at great risk to his career.

        As for mass shooters, my mind turned to the school variety because of the contrast with Salinger’s Holden Caulfield, also a disaffected, alienated young man — in his case from a private school milieu, as opposed to a public school one — whose response is the desire to protect young children such as his sister, who are walking blind through the ryegrass, toward the unseen abyss just ahead. Knowing that he can’t succeed in saving either them or himself, he “chooses love” by submitting to a psychiatrist who will return him more “adjusted” to the world he dreads. The school shooter, on the other hand, chooses to swing his scythe through the high grass like the Grim Reaper and accomplish nothing more than his own damnation. To what extent Big Pharma has contributed to his ultimate behavior is unknown, but one suspects that a Holden Caulfield, circa 1947, was luckier in being exposed to little more than cigarettes and the whiskey in his parents’ liquor cabinet.

  10. I’m a teacher. Kind of. I teach a college course, but I teach it to high school students for dual credit. Some years ago, a young man in my class came to speak to me on a day he was scheduled to make a presentation. He was in tears. He told me he had had to stop taking his ADHD meds because he needed to change them, so he wasn’t on anything and could not control his emotions. This was a 17 year old boy. In tears.

    I happened to have known this young man before he was in my class. I had known him since he was about six years old. He had always been a nice, polite, well-behaved boy. He may have been taking the meds at that time or he may have just been given them for being a rowdy boy. I do not know. I went home that evening and told my husband what had happened. I said to him, “My, God! We are driving our children insane! How can someone who has never experienced the way real emotions feel as a teen ever expect to handle them as an adult?”

    I think that was and is a valid question. I wish our medical industry had a good answer for it.

    • I imagine any answer from the medical community will be heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry. Parents most often don’t want to see their children ‘suffer’ embarrassment, awkwardness, zits, etc. Few are confident enough to coach their children in the struggles of maturity. So, they defer to prescription drugs.
      Thank you for your comment. It is one of the most important questions that today’s society is striving to ignore.

  11. There is a yin/yang. Many of the accomplishments of our culture would not have happened without testosterone, good things. But think of what things also were influenced by estrogen (sic.).
    WWI, WWII, Communist Revolution, every riot in the streets around the world (see many women throwing rocks or Molotov cocktails?), Vietnam, Korea, Trevon Martin, murder in Memphis, bombing in Ukraine etc. Or, maybe not estrogen.

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