Chemical Castration: White Genocide and Male Extinction in Rhetoric of Endocrine Disruption
In 2002, biologist Dr. Tyrone Hayes conducted a series of experiments that revealed that the most common herbicide, Atrazine, feminized male frogs at concentrations below that allowed in drinking water in the United States.1 He hypothesized that Atrazine works as an endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC), converting testosterone to estrogen in frogs. Hayess research ignited an ongoing political controversy over whether Atrazine causes hermaphroditism in amphibians, humans, and other species. Although the manufacturer of Atrazine, Syngenta, argues that the pesticide is safe, Hayes and other scientists have increasingly demonstrated a link between Atrazine and threats to public health and the environment. In this essay, I examine the role of gendered rhetoric in scientific and popular representations of this controversy. Through analyzing depictions of Hayess frogs in scientific research and the media, I find that Atrazine discourse is imbued with cultural anxieties about the extinction of normative masculinity in an increasingly toxic world. This essay contributes a surprising account of how this rhetoric travels into far-right media commentary about male decline and white genocide.
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Succession: Queering the Environment