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Earth Science

Chemical Pollution Is Destroying Masculinity 773

myrdos2 writes "A host of common chemicals is feminizing males of every class of vertebrate animals, from fish to mammals, including people. Many have been identified as 'endocrine disruptors' or gender-benders because they interfere with hormones. Communities heavily polluted with gender-benders in Canada, Russia, and Italy have given birth to twice as many girls as boys, which may offer a clue to the mysterious shift in sex ratios worldwide. And a study at Rotterdam's Erasmus University showed that boys whose mothers had been exposed to PCBs grew up wanting to play with dolls and tea sets rather than with traditionally male toys. It also follows hard on the heels of new American research which shows that baby boys born to women exposed to widespread chemicals in pregnancy are born with smaller penises and feminized genitals. It is calculated that 250,000 babies who would have been boys have been born as girls instead in the US and Japan alone. And sperm counts are dropping precipitously. Studies in more than 20 countries have shown that they have dropped from 150 million per milliliter of sperm fluid to 60 million over 50 years."
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Chemical Pollution Is Destroying Masculinity

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  • That sucks (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:06AM (#26031247)

    On behalf of my fellow males I'd like to say:


  • by tehBoris ( 1120961 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:09AM (#26031269)
    They are impurifying our precious bodily fluids!
  • by codepunk ( 167897 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:09AM (#26031271)

    Woah, little fella, your mom was exposed to PCB's wasn't she!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:09AM (#26031275)

    IT still an almost male-only field. It is simply the most manly of jobs.

  • Aliens! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ash-Fox ( 726320 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:11AM (#26031295) Journal

    Aliens have began the process of converting the majority of the human population to females for their future breeding programmes.

  • by aliquis ( 678370 ) <> on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:12AM (#26031307) Homepage

    Finally an excuse for my weak body, small penis and my interest for tea. And sadly my limited interest for breasts.

  • by purpledinoz ( 573045 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:14AM (#26031321)
    So will the religious right now be against pollution? I guess not, the religious right are also against science.
    • by dilvish_the_damned ( 167205 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:32AM (#26031529) Journal

      So will the religious right now be against pollution? I guess not, the religious right are also against science.

      Thats not entirely true. They are against science that does not promote a given point they are trying to make. If it happens to agree with something they like the sound of, they generally quote findings as if the conclusion was known to them for quite some time.
      So in this case it would constitute proof pollution is Gods punishment for everyone being gay.

  • Cultural influence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danieltdp ( 1287734 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:16AM (#26031339)

    The choice of playing with dolls, tea sets or cars is CULTURAL and not genetic. This have been proved in numerous scientific researches.

    • by PinkyDead ( 862370 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:49AM (#26031689) Journal

      When my daughter was born, my wife and I were very adamant that she wouldn't have any cultural stereotypes imposed on her. Everything was very gender neutral, but she still ended up being obsessed with Barbie and pink stuff.

      Some years later we had a son, and treated him with the same neutrality (and he had an older sister who was always dressing him in pink) - his first word was 'digger'.

      You may be right - but you'll have a hard time convincing me.

      • by rhyder128k ( 1051042 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @10:08AM (#26031939) Homepage
        How did you isolate them from all cultural influences?
      • by danieltdp ( 1287734 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @11:14AM (#26032937)
        They watch tv. They get friends. They had teachers. They learn from many sources! Parents are just the first reference.
      • by 2nd Post! ( 213333 ) <.gundbear. .at.> on Monday December 08, 2008 @11:30AM (#26033169) Homepage

        My daughter loves pink and Hello Kitty, but she loves cars and train sets too. I think it's more about not restricting her access to boys toys than anything else.

        My mother in law was kind of upset when I bought her a train table... she thought I was pushing my toys onto her!

      • by Eryq ( 313869 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @11:43AM (#26033367) Homepage

        Did you completely prevent your daughter from watching TV -- where she would encounter a steady stream of images of little girls dressed in pink and playing with dolls?

        Did you prevent her from reading kids books, which are brimming with descriptions (and illustrations) of little girls wearing pink and playing with dolls?

        Did you keep her out of all malls, toy stores, and clothing stores, which display row upon row of pink clothes and dolls in the "Girls" aisles?

        Did you keep her locked in a basement, where she would never meet other little girls (whose social approval she would subconsciously seek) dressed in pink and playing with dolls?

        Did you prevent her from interacting with relatives who disagreed with your philosophy, and got her dolls and pretty pink dresses?

        Of course you didn't.

        Societal gender norms creep into every household through a hundred back doors. You can't stop them. And unless you wore pink and played with dolls in front of your little girl, and your wife never did, you were probably doing nothing to counter their influence. Being neutral is not the same as working against.

        And by the way: just a hundred years ago, pink was considered a boy's color, and blue was for girls [].

        Sorry, but the GP is correct: the whole "girls love pink" thing has long been accepted as cultural, not genetic, and a hundred years from now it could very well swing the other way.

    • by VoidCrow ( 836595 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:51AM (#26031715)
      Have you ever considered the possibility that the cultural difference may be predicated on a genetic/physiological base? Say, culture states that girls do X therefore I, identifying as a girl, will also do X? And, if physiology allows for obvious physical dimorphism, why should there be no behavioural dimophism? It's clear enough in animal studies and from farming. Check out the word 'freemartin' in relation to cattle sometime. Humans are fundamentally different why?
      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) * on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:34PM (#26036569) Homepage Journal

        And speaking as a livestock person with several decades and multiple generations' experience -- I agree with you. Cultures, by way of what's valued in individuals, exert selection pressure for and against certain phenotypes, which in turn tends to promote or eliminate the associated genotypes. This is most obvious in dogs (and to a lesser degree, in other livestock), where various breeds WITH DIFFERING INSTINCTS developed in response to selection pressure for various functions -- which is to say, a directly applied form of "culture".

        A human culture that valued stay-at-home moms and denigrated "working girls" might likewise select strongly for genes that produce a temperament of demure mothers who never let their kids out of their sight. Whereas a culture that valued (or required) working moms might select for a more-independent female that's more willing to dump the kids in daycare.

        It only takes a few generations for such selection pressure to have a profound effect on the relevant part of the gene pool.

    • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:54AM (#26031751) Homepage Journal

      It's a little of both. Much of human behavior is driven by instinctual needs. Men instinctually find women with wide hips attractive because women with wide hips have the best chances of having a successful child birth. Girls are instinctually taken to playing with dolls because they are nurturers by nature.

      OTOH, in cultures where playing with dolls is acceptable for boys, boys will play with dolls, too.

      That's because gender is not binary. Girls have a masculine side and boys have a feminine side. The human male has both testosterone and estrogen, the same is true of the human female. It's mostly a matter of how much of each hormone is present in the body that determines how effeminate a boy will be vs. how much of a 'tom boy' a girl will be.

      Culture and upbringing also play a crucial role, however. Men are culturally shamed into not embracing their feminine side and women were once typically culturally shamed into not embracing their masculine side. Since then, we as a culture have begun embracing the 'strong' woman and the metrosexual man -- roles are changing.

      How much of this is nurture vs. nature is a matter for debate and will probably be strongly debated for a long time.

  • Nails (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:20AM (#26031379) Homepage

    Not only is it destroying our masculinity, but it's making my nails really dirty and I've just had them done :(

  • I, for one, (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:26AM (#26031453)

    welcome our forthcoming female overlords.

    Oh wait ...

  • Bunk (Score:5, Funny)

    by The Fun Guy ( 21791 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:30AM (#26031499) Homepage Journal

    I played with old electrical transformer as a kid, practically bathing in PCBs. It didn't hurt me any. People see me comin', and it's "Lock up your wives, your daughters and your good silver, Joe's a-comin!"

    I'm the roughest, toughest, meanest, leanest, rootin-est, tootin-est, sharp-damned-shootin-est man you ever had the bad luck to meet! I can drink longer, fight harder, shout louder and piss further than any other man in the Yukon, and anyone who doesn't believe me can step outside!

  • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:44AM (#26031641)

    ...named Oprah?

  • Dilution (Score:5, Funny)

    by verloren ( 523497 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:51AM (#26031711)

    Interesting that the fall in sperm count goes along with the increasing availability of porn - as the 'spilling of seed' increases the number of sperm left per, um, 'dose' goes down. Now that we have the internet I suspect the figure will slip below double digits within a decade.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:57AM (#26031797)

    Should be enough for anybody.

  • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:58AM (#26031817) Homepage

    Studies in more than 20 countries have shown that they have dropped from 150 million per milliliter of sperm fluid to 60 million over 50 years

    Ahem... I blame internet porn!

    So what are the odds that this research was funded by some fundamentalist religious group ? No one just randomly sets out on random research, someone has to pay the bill, which usually (always) means there's something to be gained from the results. Today's world is anything but altruistic.

  • by spaceman375 ( 780812 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @09:59AM (#26031825)

    What this really means is that us old guys have bigger dicks than you nelly boys. Now get off my lawn, pansy.

  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @10:22AM (#26032147)

    If there's any argument that could get red-blooded, meat-eating, women-banging Republican men interested in environmentalism, it's the thought that pollution will turn their sons into gay little girlie men with small dicks.

    Next, we need to convince them professional sports and country music lowers sperm count.

  • by twostix ( 1277166 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @10:58AM (#26032687)

    Well not totally sonless, but many more girls are being born into rural areas than two generations ago.

    I come from a long line of farmers, though my fathers side got out in the '50s my mothers side all still own/run farms. We're not talking little hobby farms either.
    I spent a lot of time on those farms in my childhood and one thing I always remember was the massive sheds full of drums of toxic chemicals for use in various sheep and cattle dips, pesticides and vaccines. We're talking industrial scale with thousands of litres a year being used. Not to mention the big piles of petrochemcal fertilizers, lime and other bits and pieces laying around in the open.

    Now the interesting thing, 90% of my cousins on my mothers side are female. And I have a LOT of cousins. In fact both of my mothers brothers had four girls and only one boy EACH (8 girls to 2 boys). Now two data points does not mean much, but the thing is this is now extremely common out there and most of the families that I know of in the district now have families where daughters vastly outnumber sons. It's widely known and occasionally discussed, and it's only become so since my mothers generation. In her fathers generation it was a roughly even split. The general consensus is it's the toxic chemicals that gained popularity in the 50's that farmers are regularly exposed to (read drenched in).

    I remember when I was about 13 helping to dip sheep for the first time (kills all the bugs in the wool, basically the sheep get a high pressure shower with some sort of chemical concoction). Well for that whole week anytime I was anywhere near the spray, when I got even a whiff of the overspray if I was lucky it'd just be burning eyes, if I got a good dose I'd be running for the toilet, it was literally that toxic. The men operating the machine were drenched in it.

  • by baffled ( 1034554 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:45PM (#26035679)
    Imagine how many effects aren't obvious.
  • by mstanton ( 1426803 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:58PM (#26035925)
    Here are some articles by some highly regarded green chemists about this concept.

    Terry Collins: Persuasive Communication about Matters of Great Urgency: Endocrine Disruption: []
    Shanna Swan: Decrease in Anogenital Distance among Male Infants with Prenatal Phthalate Exposure []

    My understanding is that *endocrine disruptors* are the chemical pollutants responsible for these gender shifts. EDs cause shifts in cellular development, which is particularly important because it is a very fragile process. For example, the fundamental difference (from a molecular perspective) between testosterone and estrogen is very subtle. Therefore minor mistakes can cause drastic changes depending upon the timing and dose of exposure. You don't want things to disrupt *how* your maleness cells develop. What scientists are beginning to find is that babies (in the womb) who have exposure to EDs during development are showing significant differences in the finalized male genitals.

    Today two types of endocrine disruptors: Bisphenol A and Phthalates are ubiquitous in our lives, namely in vinyl, PVC, and polycarbonate (plastics 3 and 7). Regulatory committees struggle to monitor the impact of these chemicals because of their ubiquitous application and the tiny size of what constitutes an *exposure* (something like 4 parts per trillion). Supposedly there have been lots of discussions in the scientific community about EDs since these findings started to come out in the mid 90s. However, its been a lot more talk than it has research and action.

    But I can't sell everybody short. There was a big Nalgene bottle recall last year for this exact reason. The state of California has banned EDs from pesticides. Companies like BornFree make baby products without EDs. It feels like its coming, awareness just isn't there yet.

  • Phytoestrogens (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Reziac ( 43301 ) * on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:06PM (#26036057) Homepage Journal

    Look at phytoestrogens instead. The most common sources are soy products and flaxseed meal (which has about twice as much as soy does). [] []

    Anecdote: flaxseed meal is increasingly used in pet food. When I was feeding my kennel a diet with a significant amount of flaxseed meal, I had a marked increase of certain types of birth defects (mainly some degree of failure of midline closure) AND a 50% miss rate on breedings. Since I've gone to a flax-free diet, the birth defects have gone away, and my conception rate is back to the species norm of 85-90%.

    (Credential: I have almost 40 years professional experience in dogs.)

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.