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Oct 12

The coin theory – Trinidad & Tobago Express Newspapers

So sometime last year I had an epiphany of a coin theory which supposedly explains an aspect of the rhythm and essence of how the universe functions.

The idea was that things exist in a circle concept where there was the beginning, the end and back to the beginning again. At the same time things also functioned in opposites.

Thus, the resultant coin theory. A coin has opposite sides andwas essentially a circle. Thus, opposites and circular at the same time.

I thought I was being very profound but some friends who I told asked if I was eating some special popcorn or brownies. But when one looks at the life landscape, there is definitely a circular concept. The planets, including the Earth, rotate around the Sun, the seasons rotate, and time itself seems to be a cycle. And of course, even us humans in our lifespan, we have to admit it is seriously once a man, twice a child.

As we get older and pass the 80-something year barrier, we are slower both physically and cognitively, and eventually we may end up in diapers with no teeth, chewing on baby food, and sleeping most of the day. With the opposites, there are the aspects of yin and yang, light and darkness, male and female, opposites for everything. Opposites are necessary to appreciate the other side. Each opposite cannot exist without the other. Without darkness we cannot appreciate light, for example.

There is even the cycle of gender. The male and the female are opposites and yet they exist in a cycle. Lets review the hormonal lifespan cycle. The foetus in the womb is an all-female one in the first eight to ten weeks. So, we all start off being female as the default gender. By eight to ten weeks, the male foetus is now bombarded with high levels of testosterone, which especially changes the genitalia and the brain.

Males peak their testosterone levels as young adults and, as they get older, their testosterone levels reduce and the testosterone-to-oestrogen ratio changes.

Suddenly their libido is reduced, they are whiny and verbose, and they get man boobs.

With women, as they get older, their oestrogen is reduced post-menopause and although their testosterone levels also reduce, the oestrogen is reduced more significantly, and the ratio also changes.

For many women they get comparatively stronger than the men their age, their libido can increase and seemingly they can become more assertive, some even say more aggressive. Doing a broad brush, one theory suggests that as they get older, old women become more like men and old men become more like women.

A broad brush is difficult, especially with regards to gender, as there are so many factors that affect it, hormones being only one factor. Culture and genetics also play a role. It is a fact that women live longer than men. As an average, women live five per cent longer. Supposedly the oestrogen can protect them against heart disease and circulating high cholesterol levels. Women also have better immune systems. Men also are more prone to drinking, smoking, overeating. Women also have spare back-up genes from the extra X chromosome, while men have no such back-up since they have a Y chromosome.

In terms of physical strength, men dominate at their peak but as they get older, they are more frail, more prone to heart disease, they have more complex medical issues and thus they die younger. It begs the question, though, are men whiny and verbose because their oestrogen-testosterone ratio has changed, or is it because they miss the physical strength and dominance at the peak and they are now saddled with ill health and reduced perception of purpose which makes them stay at home more, reminisce about the previous years and whine about the life now?

Do women actually become more assertive and aggressive as they get older, or is it that they grow into themselves and develop confidence along with better health and living longer lives? Or do they similarly miss the sense of purpose and try to exert the missing matrifocal dominance by being cranky and irritable?

Lets flip it further. Are women and men just showing similar signs of growing old, but society as the observer interprets it differently? Maybe it is all really a manifestation of ageing more so than gender differences. Maybe it is society that is doing the labelling and the assumptions. Maybe both genders are just showing signs of ageing and loneliness.

There are so many factors to consider. Genetics, culture, the more frail Y chromosome, changing hormonal ratios, risk-taking behaviour and presumed invincibility behaviour for men. Women are initially more focused on being the family caretaker and support system. With our system of matrifocal families, the woman prioritises the family and the career over her own needs and, later on in life, when the career has plateaued and the family unit more dispersed, maybe then women have the space and time to assert themselves more or react to the loss.

What I know for sure is that each opposite cannot exist without the other, so we should appreciate and support each other and try to understand the rhythm. The cycle suggests, though, that we all start off as females and end as females.

What ah thing.

Dr Joanne F Paul is an emergency medicine lecturer with The UWI and a member of TEL institute

Excerpt from:
The coin theory - Trinidad & Tobago Express Newspapers

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