I recently posted this to my Instagram stories and received a bit of pushback:
"So many men's coaches will say that there is an agenda to make men weak - alluding to a systemic problem - then turn around and fight to uphold the system of capitalism, as if that isn't the exact problem they're supposedly against."
One of the things that these men point to as evidence of the agenda to make men weak is chemicals in the environment wreaking havoc on our hormones.
For example, here's an exchange I had via Instagram direct messages:
This is a result of unfettered capitalism. Here's what I understand…
Firstly, I agree there are environmental factors destroying hormone levels. In 2009, the Endocrine Society declared in their first Scientific Statement that endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) "have effects on male and female reproduction" and that they are "significant concern to public health" while also urging "changes in public policy."
And in a 2020 report with the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), the Endocrine Society specifically said plastics, particularly microplastics, are a pervasive source of exposure to EDCs.
Plastic is produced by multinational petrochemical companies, fossil fuel giants like ExxonMobil and Sinopec.
Minderoo Foundation's Plastic Waste Makers Index found 100 companies produce 90% of all single-use plastic waste generated globally and the International Energy Agency's 2018 report The Future of Petrochemicals suggested "oil demand related to plastic consumption" will overtake "that for road passenger transport by 2050."
Under capitalism, these companies have a vested interest in increasing plastic production in order to continue to be profitable. They do this in a number of ways. The first is with packaging, which accounted for 36% of plastic produced in 2015 (Geyer, Jambeck, & Law, 2017).
"Packaging is important to capitalism," Chris Williams argues in Ecology and Socialism. "It is part of convincing us that we have choices in the products we buy, as if each different brand were not in many cases identical aside from the packaging and the brand loyalty that packaging seeks to secure."
The second is with recycling, promoted by the oil and gas industry to keep plastic bans at bay (Sullivan, 2020). The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Global Plastics Outlook found only 9% of plastic is recycled.
The third is with lobbying, as millions of dollars are invested in legislators. The more a given member of Congress votes against environmental policies, the more contributions they receive from oil and gas companies supporting their reelection (Goldberg et al., 2020).
And so, policies and research focus heavily on the consumption of plastic while the production phase is under-regulated and under-researched (Knoblauch & Mederake, 2021).
That "environmental factors have destroyed healthy male hormone levels" is a direct result of an economy based on maximising profit margins.
Dealing with microplastics and EDCs means profit cuts for these multinational companies functioning within the model of a capitalist economy, threatening the sole foundation on which this profit-centric economy is based.
It’s not an agenda to make men weak, it’s a group of inordinately powerful companies doing whatever they can to continue to make money without giving a shit about the harm it causes.
In fact, I think that promulgating the conspiratorial belief that there is a secret agenda to make men weak does an extra disservice to men. It makes them preoccupied with not succumbing to the evil agenda, concerned with the abstract, rather than pushing back against a very real and exploitative economic system that can be legitimately challenged.