Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

Fear of a “Gender-bender” planet…(sigh)… November 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. A. Breeze Harper @ 11:39 pm

http://www.naturalnews.com/027514_phthalates_feminization.html

This bothers me because I can’t necessarily say I would care if my infant son, Sun, were “feminized”. Who freaking cares as long as he’s happy!?

I am turned off by the phrase “gender-bender phthalate chemicals.” Mike Adams doesn’t seem to understand that the rigid heteropatriarchal heteorsexist able-bodied binary of female/male in the USA is, in itself, a problem; what does playing with certain toys have to do with exposure to “chemicals?” Is this guy serious? See below what I quoted (source: http://www.naturalnews.com/027514_phthalates_feminization.html):

(NaturalNews) In a bombshell finding that has far-reaching implications for society and culture, scientists at the University of Rochester have found that phthalates — the chemical found in many vinyl and plastic products — tends to “feminize” boys, altering their brains to express more feminine characteristics. The study has been published in the Journal of Andrology.

Phthalates are found in vinyl products (including vinyl flooring), PVC shower curtains, plastic furniture and even in the plastic coating of the insides of dishwashing machines.

The feminization process happens during pregnancy when phthalate exposure causes hormone disruptions in the unborn baby. This chemical feminizes males by disrupting the action of the hormone testosterone.

In this recent study, researchers found a strong correlation between the types of toys that male children play with and the level of phthalates found in their mothers when they were pregnant. Researchers discovered that boys exposed to high levels of phthalates in the womb tend to avoid playing with cars, trains or toy guns. They also avoided rough play, instead preferring more feminine toys and activities. (Barbie?)

Sometimes he can be very “know it all straight white middle class” guy who thinks he can speak for everyone and know what is “healthy” for everyone to eat.  He uses phrases and wording that are so encased in white middle-class heterosexual able-bodied male privilege…and it drives me crazy! But, at the same time, he feels strongly that he is helping many people. I have benefited from many things he has written, but he totally needs to take an awareness class around gender, whiteness, class, etc. because he is constantly doing this. I don’t think he’s aware of it. I think I should probably write him and let him know…

…and it’s not that he can’t write from the “white middle-class heterosexual able-bodied male privilege” perspective… I think what irritates me is that he doesn’t reflect on it or at least name where he is coming from, as opposed to making it as if it’s “common sense” or “universally” applicable.

 

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8 Responses to “Fear of a “Gender-bender” planet…(sigh)…”

  1. I say go ahead, blur the lines!

    This article is irrelevant.

    I equally roughhoused with the boys and played with dolls.

    We’re socialized into choosing certain toys.

    This article neglects to mention that children play, period, and that it’s the adults around them that will monitor their “natural” preferences.

    It’s quite possible that these boys who played with “feminine” toys and activities were simply allowed to do so without being “corrected” on “appropriate” male behavior.

    If men are more “aggressive” or “masculine”, it’s because those qualities that show up in women are trained out of them.

    I don’t want to be a “man” and I don’t want my man to be a “woman”, but if it means that his “feminized” qualities of being physically affectionate means I’m never without a hug, smooch, or a squeeze, I’m there!

    If it means that he’ll play jump rope or tea party with his daughter, I’ll take it.

  2. Rutabaga Says:

    I totally see what you’re saying, but I also think you’re sort of glancing over the fact that if there really is a biological change in the chemistry of the brains of males, it’s not a good thing, no matter how much we aspire for a gender neutral society. Phthalates are dangerous, and this is proof of that. I really don’t think this is just a matter of gender bias. They would still be bringing attention to this issue if boys showed more violent and more traditionally masculine traits when exposed to phthalates. I guess I’m just saying that feels like you’re downplaying the health impacts of phthalates and that’s not ideal either.

    • Hi Rutabaga. I wasn’t denying that there are biological changes that the body experiences and that there are health dangers. But I was more or less pointing out the tone of the writing, his ‘negative’ use of the phrase ‘gender-bender’ and the fact that he finds it a problem if a ‘boy’ were to play with Barbie. I am suggesting that there are ways to talk about these topics without sounding disgusted that a ‘boy’ would play with a Barbie doll or want to wear ‘girl’ clothing.

      I also think it’s important that authors such as himself reflect on the wordings and implications of how they say things. But, that’s just my two cents. Let me know if I’m making sense.

      • johanna Says:

        Breeze, that’s how I read your post. Leaving aside the issue of the chemicals, the way he talks about them is really gender-police-y & gross. There are ways to talk about the dangers of those chemicals w/o launching into a tone similar to the “OH NO SOY WILL MAKE YOU GAY!!!1″ sort of thing.

  3. Ida Says:

    “This bothers me because I can’t necessarily say I would care if my infant son, Sun, were “feminized”. Who freaking cares as long as he’s happy!?”

    Breeze, this is both beautiful and profound! Thanks for making my “feminized brain” something good to think about. ;)

  4. Ida Says:

    Melissa, you make a good point about the social pressure on children to behave according to a gender that is consistent with their assigned sex. If my brain has a “natural” preference it certainly isn’t masculine – yet I grew with the toys and activities that were deemed “correct” and “appropriate” for male behavior.

  5. Abram Says:

    I agree with both Rutabaga and Breeze. Yes, phthalates are a very real risk, but the choice of words is poor. Gender-bending is not the risk of phthalates. The real risk is that phthalates and other petrochemicals feminise boys physically, in the womb–smaller perineum, smaller testes, smaller penis, etc.–that can ultimately lead to the disappearance of the human male. And the disappearance of one sex means the disappearance of the species, unless we get into cloning or inserting a female’s DNA into another female’s eggs to fertilize them.

    Gender-bending, as far as I’m concerned is a great thing, but the physical disappearance of one sex, unless we can become as versatile as certain reptiles, changing sex as needed, is a bad thing. To the ignorant massed, many of whom are already concerned about the blurring of gender (not sex) lines, the language he uses can confuse the whole issue.

  6. cheyenne Says:

    This article is so ENTIRELY pseudoscientific that I would not pick any part of it to consider ‘the point’ or the part that’s scariest – if the article is accurately reflecting the findings of the study, the study is bullshit. Hormone levels are not what make kids pick up certain gendered toys or display feminine characteristics, as the article wants you to believe. Gender and sex are both social constructs, and while body-altering chemicals are bad, we have no idea what they’re actually doing because the article is too caught up in gender policing.


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