All soft and feminine – oh noes

In research reported today, it seems that phthalates, found in plastics, are affecting boys. The effects include genital abnormalities, and boys playing with girls’ toys. The BBC reports it as making boys more feminine; Jender at Feminist Philosophers deconstructs that particular worry. But in a particularly silly move, the ABC reports the story just a little differently.

Common chemicals making boys soft

A US study has come to the conclusion that chemicals used to soften up household items may also be making a new generation of soft blokes.

Wow. Stay classy, ABC.

It’s a social construction of gender alright: girls should be soft and feminine, and boys should be tough blokes. Of course we should worry about boys’ reproductive health, but for goodness sake, does it really matter one little bit if boys play with “feminine” toys.


3 responses to “All soft and feminine – oh noes

  1. The (female, alas) scientist I heard talking about this on Life Matters this morning was interesting on the subject of the suppression of testosterone in utero, but was taking it absolutely as a ‘natural’ given that playing with toy stoves was ‘feminine behaviour’. I preferred the approach of the RN Life Matters dude, Richard Person Whose Surname I Can’t Spell, who asked ‘ But isn’t this good news for world peace?’

  2. Ah, so it’s the plastic in the toy digger and toy garbage truck that caused my son and his friend to move today from the game Mates (where every sentence has the word “mate” in it, and they really did name it themselves) to discussing their nail polish and how they both have the favourite colour of pink.

    Or maybe I’ve just exposed them to too much ABC?

  3. The ‘good news for world peace’ comment was repeated by Deborah Cameron on 702ABC, but the scientist didn’t like it – she felt that most mothers wanted their sons not to be affected by any chemicals, but to be ‘normally masculine’, whatever that is. I feel like giving up on scientists (and yes, as Dr Cat says, a woman) some days.