Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Stuck in a Rutz.

As I was mentioning yesterday, readers of the blog occasionally send me little tidbits for future posts. Sometimes these are in line with my usual interests, other times they are totally random, and still other times they seem to be part of an ongoing dialogue with my previous writing. This last option seems to have been the motivation for Bookmobile to send me a rather charming little article titled: "Soy is making kids 'gay.'"* As you might guess, the main contention of the article (written by Jim Rutz or, as I like to call him, crazy old guy) seems to be that soybean products are the primary cause of homosexuality:

There's a slow poison out there that's severely damaging our children and threatening to tear apart our culture. The ironic part is, it's a "health food," one of our most popular.


The dangerous food I'm speaking of is soy. Soybean products are feminizing, and they're all over the place. You can hardly escape them anymore.

I have nothing against an occasional soy snack. Soy is nutritious and contains lots of good things. Unfortunately, when you eat or drink a lot of soy stuff, you're also getting substantial quantities of estrogens.

Estrogens are female hormones. If you're a woman, you're flooding your system with a substance it can't handle in surplus. If you're a man, you're suppressing your masculinity and stimulating your "female side," physically and mentally.

Still don't see the connection with homosexuality? Well, obviously it's rooted in this whole "estrogen" thing he's on about. Specifically:

In fetal development, the default is being female. All humans (even in old age) tend toward femininity. The main thing that keeps men from diverging into the female pattern is testosterone, and testosterone is suppressed by an excess of estrogen.

If you're a grownup, you're already developed, and you're able to fight off some of the damaging effects of soy. Babies aren't so fortunate. Research is now showing that when you feed your baby soy formula, you're giving him or her the equivalent of five birth control pills a day. A baby's endocrine system just can't cope with that kind of massive assault, so some damage is inevitable. At the extreme, the damage can be fatal.

Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. (Most babies are bottle-fed during some part of their infancy, and one-fourth of them are getting soy milk!) Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because "I can't remember a time when I wasn't homosexual." No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can't remember a time when excess estrogen wasn't influencing them.

So, to recap: soybeans contain estrogen, estrogen feminizes, therefore soybeans cause, "...a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality." Do they eat a lot of soybeans in India? If so, maybe we've got an explanation for yesterday's post. In any case, our charming author spends quite a bit of time ranting about the dangers of soybeans and how their consumption is destroying American civilization. In a way I'm reassured to hear this: at least he isn't blaming the atheists.**

Now, the interesting thing is that this rant, however nonsensical it may sound, does have a kernel of truth in it. While the soybean is thought to have some cardiovascular benefits, there also appears to be some genuine debate over its possible role in cancer. Additionally, it has been shown to suppress thyroid function and may indeed have some reproductive or feminizing effects via an estrogen precursor it contains- phytoestrogen. Taken together, this provides some possible factual support for Rutz's claims.

Hey, I don't like it either, but if I'm not honest about that I'm no better than Crazy Old Guy.

That said, can this hotly-debated research be taken as definitive support for the idea that soybeans cause homosexuality? Does soy spread "the gay," as it were? Well, I for one doubt it. Why do I doubt it? Well, here's a hint: (HINT)

Exactly: my doubt is rooted, at least in part, in the existence of lesbians, or female homosexuals. Now, if an overabundance of soy products was the primary cause of homosexuality, we might expect female homosexuals to be very uncommon. Women, as it happens, naturally have quite a bit of estrogen, so women consuming lots of soybeans should be, I suppose, really, really feminine. More importantly, if large quantities of estrogen make males prefer males as sexual partners, it stands to reason it would do the same for females. As it happens, however, lesbians seem to exist in roughly comparable numbers to male homosexuals. This rather strongly implies that homosexuality is not a result of an over-exposure to estrogen.*** If that weren't enough, it's probably important to note as well that being "homosexual" does not necessarily mean "identifying as the opposite sex." So, a male might prefer other males as sexual partners while still identifying as a male. Someone who both prefers the same sex as a sexual partner, and identifies as the opposite sex (i.e. a male who self-identifies as female and prefers males as sex partners) is more appropriately known as transexual.

What we have in Rutz's writing is a fairly common little mistake: taking a pastiche of research that is a long way from being conclusive, and putting it together in some bizarre fashion to support a point. Is it possible that soybeans consumed in large quantities may have a feminizing effect? Sure. Is that certain? No. If it was certain, would that mean that homosexuality is attributable to soybeans? Well, since homosexuality has been around for a looooong time, I'm going with "no." Rutz is trying to construct an argument out of a little of this, and a little of that, and ignoring the context from which it comes.****

Rutz's claims deserve to be mocked and, indeed, are receiving all appropriate mockery. At the same time, however, let's at least be grateful to see the ultraconservatives paying attention to research.

Piss poor attention, sure, but it's a start.

* I just have to say, I love the quotes around the word "gay." I suppose the author wanted to make sure that we didn't think he meant, "happy." Wow, thanks crazy guy! I woulda been confused otherwise!

** That said, we'll probably be up next week.

*** Not solely, anyway. I suspect that homosexuality is a complex phenomenon with multiple biological causes and consequences. I wouldn't rule estrogen out as a component in that, but I see no reason to jump to conclusions.

**** That is, where he isn't completely misunderstanding things. For example, I love his claim that, "In fetal development, the default is being female. All humans (even in old age) tend toward femininity. The main thing that keeps men from diverging into the female pattern is testosterone, and testosterone is suppressed by an excess of estrogen." Interesting. Sure, all humans start out as female, but after birth men aren't constantly fighting a war against their own femininity. Even if we had no testosterone production, feminization is pretty limited by our lack of ovaries.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are we male readers now thinking back and wondering if our mothers gave us soy based formula? Nah.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger tina said...

I hate to add a comment that puts me on the side of Crazy Old Guy, but the numbers I've seen don't indicate that lesbians are as numerous as gay men in the US population. Of course it all depends on how you count "the gay," but the Laumann, et al. study finds about 1/3 as many lesbians as gay men.

No, I don't think this means soy is the culprit, but I know how you like to get your facts "straight" (har de har).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 2:54:00 PM  
Blogger tina said...

Sorry, I meant to provide a link for that Laumann cite.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 2:56:00 PM  
Blogger Drek said...

Hey Tina,

I appreciate the correction, actually. I started looking for the actual figures and then decided I was too lazy and had other work to do. Sadly, my research doesn't lead me to keep a solid count on the homosexual population.

And hey, if Crazy Old Guy is right about something, I like to think we're all big enough to admit it. I still think the presence of lesbians is an issue for him, though perhaps not as severe an issue as previously thought.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 2:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, I saw this and sent it to you before reading your last post, Drek. It's just a freakish coincidence that they're related.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 3:11:00 PM  
Blogger tina said...

One more correction, Drek. I looked up the stats, and it is more like 1/2 as many lesbians as gay men, not 1/3. The survey asks the questions in two different ways, but both yield similar ratios:

What percentage of men identify as gay or bisexual? 2.8%

What percentage of men have had sex with other men? 9%

What percentage of women identify as lesbian or bisexual? 1.5%

What percentage of women have had sex with other women? 4%

Source: Laumann, et al., linked above

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 7:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! This is one of the craziest things I've seen posted on the net. The lack of knowledge on what makes someone a homosexual is evident in this article. If soybeans create estrogen like chemicals and make the penis size smaller also causes homesexuality, how would a person explain my not having any soy when I grew up, my like of playing football and karate and the fact that I don't have a small penis LOL.. this is hysterical but also very sad. Most of the gay people I know don't even begin to fit into this persons categorizations. Atleast it gave me a good laugh tonight. perhaps for him.. ignorance is bliss

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 9:28:00 PM  

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