Thursday, December 14, 2006

But I'm a Carnivore!

An article from WorldNetDaily that asserts soy-based food products cause homosexuality -- tofu in particular -- is taking a beating in the blogosphere. When I sent a copy of the article to a group of friends, the first response I got was: "This has got to be satire."

Sadly, it's not.

Still, one might get the impression from its headline that the article originates from The Onion: "A devil food is turning our kids into homosexuals." I should say, from the original headline when it was first posted on line. The editors at WND must have caught wind of what a laughingstock the piece is and they have since changed the headline to read "Soy is making kids 'gay'." Not much better, but somewhat less diabolical.

Written not by a physician or nutritionist or any sort of scientist, but rather by James Rutz, a self-appointed minister at "Megashift Ministries" (which sounds like the name of a 1970s-era gay bar), the opinion piece makes some astounding claims:

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....

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.
Rutz ends on a somewhat hopeful note, for those of us who frequent Asian restaurants:
Soy sauce is fine. Unlike soy milk, it's perfectly safe because it's fermented, which changes its molecular structure. Miso, natto and tempeh are also OK, but avoid tofu.
I do avoid tofu, not because it's "feminizing," but because it's unappetizing.

Real scientists have already debunked Rutz's ridiculous ramblings. Vivian Paige points to a rebuttal (if I can call it that -- a rebuttal should be reserved to reply to an authentic argument) at Science Blogs that says, in reference to Rutz's assertions about delayed menarche in girls and puberty in boys, that
I searched PubMed, and there's nothing on soy and menarche or menstruation; I found a few articles on soy and puberty, and they say things like "The literature offers no evidence of endocrine effects in humans from infant consumption of modern soy-based formulas" and "To date, no adverse effects of short- or long-term use of soy proteins have been observed in humans and exposure to soy-based infant formulas does not appear to lead to different reproductive outcomes than exposure to cow milk formulas" and "Available evidence from adult human and infant populations indicates that dietary isoflavones in soy infant formulas do not adversely affect human growth, development, or reproduction." There are many more papers on its putative effects on breast cancer and the symptoms of menopause, and even there it's a study in ambiguity: some reports of slight positive effects, many more stating that there isn't a detectable effect.

There doesn't seem to be any strong evidence that eating tofu will turn your sons into girlie-boys, I'm afraid; there are better grounds to be concerned about known endocrine disruptors like atrazine and PCBs.
Andrew Sullivan, meanwhile, goes back to Alfred Kinsey himself to knock down Rutz's assertion that homosexual men have small genitalia. Quoting a 2004 article in the Archives of Sexual Behavior ("The Relation between Sexual Orientation and Penile Size") that examined a Kinsey survey of the 1940s, he says:
The relation between sexual orientation and penile dimensions in a large sample of men was studied. Subjects were 5,122 men interviewed by the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction from 1938 to 1963. They were dichotomously classified as either homosexual (n = 935) or heterosexual (n = 4187). Penile dimensions were assessed using five measures of penile length and circumference from Kinsey's original protocol. On all five measures, homosexual men reported larger penises than did heterosexual men. Explanations for these differences are discussed, including the possibility that these findings provide additional evidence that variations in prenatal hormonal levels (or other biological mechanisms affecting reproductive structures) affect sexual orientation development.
(I know I'm now going to be inundated with visits derived from Google hits for "penile size," "larger penises," "penile length," and "penile circumference." Those will be high on the list, along with "Jeremy Sumpter nude," "creationists circumcision," "granddad sex movies," and "Alex Trebek shirtless." I hope those readers stick around to read some more, but I digress ...)

Waldo Jaquith also got a nice discussion going on this topic, in which he makes the equally plausible claim that evangelical megachurches cause homosexuality (at least in their pastors).

Just when you think you've seen it all, now the third-graders will have a new name to tag their less-than-butch friends with: "tofu-eater!" (And when I say "third-graders," you know who I mean. And him, too.)


Anonymous said...

Well, I'm sure that minister's beliefs would be a great surprise to countless generations of Asians who have eaten soybeans as a staple food. What's next? Drinking V8 will make you a treehugger? And here I thought V8 was only good for making bad Bloody Marys...

Anonymous said...

Those rotten commies are still trying to corrupt our precious bodily fluids ...