Politics Social Justice Opinion: Widespread chemical use leads to fear of emasculation By The New Political Posted on September 3, 2013 8 min read 1 0 574 In an age when business success is measured by quarterly earnings and nothing else, businesses will want to rush their products onto the market as quickly as possible. This profit-oriented hastiness to hurry-up oversight processes and bypass regulatory safeguards means that the long-term effects of products can’t be determined before items reach buyers. As a result, households serve as laboratories and the public serves as lab rats. When it comes to insuring the safety of industrial chemicals, laws aren’t much help. The Toxic Substances Control Act doesn’t require the testing of industrial chemicals before they hit store shelves. Once the Environmental Protection Agency is alerted to the appearance of a new chemical on the market, the agency has 90 days to test it; if they don’t test it, then the new chemical is automatically cleared for sale to the public. In regard to the widely-used chemical bisphenol-A, commonly called ‘BPA,’ the public once again played the guinea pig. BPA is a synthetic chemical ingredient in a huge variety of plastic products and epoxies. Studies have shown that more than 90 percent of Americans have BPA in their bodies, which is not a surprise given that approximately six billion pounds of BPA is produced each year. Various studies of BPA have given the public cause for concern. Despite the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration deemed BPA “safe,” researchers have concluded that it changes gene expression and may alter brain organization. BPA is also linked to breast cancer, ovarian diseases, miscarriage during pregnancy, testicular cancer, prostate cancer, reduced testosterone that lowers sperm counts, childhood obesity, diabetes, wheezing and asthma in children, decay of tooth enamel and behavioral problems. The current katzenjammer surrounding BPA ensues from scientific findings which indicate that the chemical turns males into females—at least in the case of rodents—due to the presence of estrogen-mimicking endocrine disruptors. These so-called ‘gender bender’ chemicals have aroused fear in men, who recoil at the thought of becoming female. Perhaps the reason that men cringe at this prospect stems from the fact that if some men morphed into females then they would be subjected to the same discriminations and inequalities that plague women in society. According to the U.N.D.P., women do 66 percent of the world’s work, and yet they earn only ten percent of the world’s income and own only one percent of the world’s property. On average, women are paid 81 cents for every dollar men are paid. Since social security returns are tied to working wages in the United States, women’s smaller paychecks translate into smaller social security checks, leaving them less to live on later in life. Also, fewer than three percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women, and only 16.1 percent of people who sit on boards of directors are women. Furthermore, even though women comprise about 50 percent of the U.S. population, only 17 percent of the ‘representatives’ in Congress are women. And all this inequality is, of course, much worse for non-white women. Men might also fear BPA’s ability to transmute them into females because of what happens to female bodies. For example, in recent surveys 18.3 percent of women reported being raped during their lifetime. In the U.S. military, upwards of one in three women are raped by their fellow, male soldiers, though the Pentagon estimates that only 14 percent of sexual assaults actually get reported because the rapist usually outranks his victim. With an average of three rapes per hour in the military, women soldiers are more likely to be raped by fellow soldiers than killed in battle. And those are just the first world problems. The wider world is awash with the horrific effects of patriarchy, such as forced marriages, early marriages, female genital mutilation that afflicts over 100 million women globally, and so-called ‘honor killings’ perpetrated by families who feel that a female family member has shamed them, often because that female was raped. Amidst the roar about BPA’s ability to emasculate men, nobody seems to notice that BPA has also been shown to make women more masculine. There is suspiciously less furor about that laboratory observation. While men have reacted with hysteria to synthetic chemicals that diminish their masculinity, they are peculiarly passive about the avalanche of social pressures that force them to be synthetically macho. As things now stand, BPA is just one of many chemicals that are considered safe until proven dangerous. On the downside, BPA’s emasculating effects could lead to a proliferation of emo bands. But on the upside, if males became females then they would have the honor of sharing ranks with brave American heroes like Chelsea Manning.