Friday, February 29, 2008

The Pill Wrecks Environment, Non-Human and Human

For your consideration, a story with a politically incorrect detail that you won't see highlighted in your evening news. It seems that waste estrogen making it's way into Canadian waters is harming the fish populations:

Male fish exposed to estrogen become feminized, producing egg protein normally synthesized by females. In female fish, estrogen often retards normal sexual maturation, including egg production....

During that period [of the experiment that released estrogen into a small lake], they observed that chronic exposure to estrogen led to the near extinction of the lake’s fathead minnow population as well significant declines in larger fish, such as pearl dace and lake trout.

A little detail let slip: the source of this estrogen.

The research, led by Dr. Karen Kidd, an NSERC-funded biology professor at the University of New Brunswick (Saint John) and the Canadian Rivers Institute, confirms that synthetic estrogen used in birth control pills can wreak havoc on the sex lives of fish. Small amounts of estrogen are excreted naturally by women whether or not they are taking birth control pills. (emphasis added)

The difference being that the synthetic estrogen in the pill has to be more robust in order to survive the woman's digestive tract and make it into her blood stream, a hurdle natural human estrogen doesn't have to overcome. That's what Dr. Joel Brind told me over dinner at last year's Institute for the Study of Nature Summer Conference. He also added that all the estrogen in the water from birth control pills is the biggest issue in water treatment (in the U.S.).

Certainly it is an outrage that the fish populations are being harmed by estrogen in the water. But you have to wonder where all the outrage is over the harm women are doing to themselves by introducing synthetic hormones into their bodies.

Hormones are powerful chemicals. It makes sense that introducing more of them into, for example, an athlete's body harms him, so why doesn't it make sense that extra hormones in a woman's body does her harm?1 Basically the Pill stops ovulation by tricking a woman's body into "thinking" her pregnant. How healthy can it be for women's bodies to think they're pregnant all the time? We rightfully get all worked up about athletes introducing hormones into their bodies, and all the damage it eventually inflicts, why don't we get upset at women (and girls) introducing artificial hormones into their bodies?

And let's not forget the social structures that result from easy sexual availability of women. For example, without the worry of children that might issue from a sexual liaison, men much more easily view women exclusively as a source of male gratification. Humans are inherently relational creatures, and women even more so. Making and breaking intimate relationships is traumatic to women's psyches.

Certainly it's not politically correct to believe women emotionally vulnerable, but as evidence take this paragraph (not quite suitable for a family audience) by the redoubtable Caitlin Flanagan:

Proof that the sex lives of college women remain an object of intense cultural fascination can be found in a book like Laura Sessions Stepp’s Unhooked, which documents the semi-anonymous “hooking up” that is now the norm. Stepp’s intention was to study this phenomenon open-mindedly, “hoping to understand rather than intending to censure.” But journalistic objectivity was soon replaced by alarm and even horror. She found girls who were “exhausted physically, emotionally and spiritually” by the practice. The girls’ behavior is starkly contemporary, but the adult’s characterization of it—and of the specific ways that sexuality can deplete a woman—could have been lifted from a 19th-century tract. In placing the blame for these developments on three forces (“the ethic of female empowerment; parental expectations for academic and professional achievement; and reluctance on the part of authorities on campus to intervene in students’ social lives”), Stepp occupies the squishy middle ground where many progressive women unhappily find themselves: Yes, yes, yes to female freedom and empowerment, but Jesus Christ, why are these girls giving b*** j**s to guys they hardly know?

Indeed. Why are we so fixated on PC garbage like sexual liberation and "empowerment" that we are unable to fix the messes we're in? Forget that: why are we barely even able to admit we have problems?

The answer is that in today's intellectual climate there is no notion of nature as having any value in herself. If nature is just a chance product, a happenstance and not an intentional creation, then it can make no difference that we are violating her integrity: she has no integrity to violate.

1. Not to mention the harm done to human society by the dearth of children that results in part from the Pill. The latter is a particular blind spot to liberals, as Don Feder recently documents is evidenced in the March 3rd issue of The Nation.

Caitlin Flanagan, "The Age of Innocence," Atlantic Monthly (April 2007).

Laura Sessions Stepp, Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both (Riverhead Books, 2007).


Anonymous said...

I'm here through He Lives.
I think I've just found another great place to be with a cup of coffee.

I knew there was more than one or two reasons to not take "The Pill".

And thank God for midwives!

Lawrence Gage said...

Welcome, Jennifer!

Your profile mentions your interest in biodynamic farming and C.S. Lewis; I'd be interested to know your thoughts on Steiner and his philosophies, as well as on Owen Barfield.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the welcome!
I haven't heard of Owen Barfield so I don't have any opinions on him. I did look him up briefly, and saw that he was a key influence on the thought of Jack as well as a link between he and Steiner. I'll have to read more about that.

Steiner, on the other hand, I do have a little bit of an opinion about. I can identify with him in his view of the organism being self sufficient, but not so much his view of the spiritual influence within the organism. These are muddy waters in my mind.
I think a balance would be Francis Schaeffer meets Steiner.
One the one hand there is recognition of the individual function and on the other there is the systemic dependence upon the individual function....if that makes sense.
Maybe that's not the best example, but I'm just a little person. :)

By the way...I like your comment at the end of your post:
Forget that: why are we barely even able to admit we have problems?

While we have every sort of anonymous organization imaginable, there is so little awareness of our participation in the basic dysfunctions which get us there in the first place. And then we shake our fist at God. ??

Lawrence Gage said...

A post elsewhere on effects of estrogen on fish that I found linked here.


Lawrence Gage said...

Another article on this subject: Environmental Estrogen Pollution fools male fish into becoming female.

Boy Fish Turning into Girl Fish found below sewage treatment plant

By Theo Stein and Miles Moffeit
Denver Post Staff Writers
Oct.3, 2004

When Colorado biologist John Woodling and a team of researchers pulled fish from the South Platte River and Boulder Creek two years ago, they found deformities they’d never seen before.