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It is more patriarchy

18 Sep 2019 | OP ED Watch

Just as in some circles every bad thing that happens is due to climate change, in others it’s due to patriarchy. Even climate change denial. See, a professor and a student at Ryerson write in The Conversation that “Women leaders who support climate action are being attacked online with increasing regularity.” And since no one else gets attacked online the cause is obvious: “Attacks against women climate leaders specifically can be further explained by the relationship between misogyny and climate denialism.” Who saw that coming? Now if we could only prove that climate change causes patriarchy…

It’s easy to make fun of this stuff. And we’re not making light of the vicious attacks that female politicians and public figures experience from trolls, far too much of it sexually menacing. But it’s by no means restricted to those on the left, we add pointedly, while agreeing that calling Canada’s Environment Minister “Climate Barbie” is itself both nasty and mindless. Nor is it unheard of for women to bully other women (in this case by disparaging someone as a climate denier). Nor are men free from mind-boggling abuse online including the gender-related stuff. And the crucial point about this sort of article is that the stiff, mechanical phrases and paranoid mentality that savour of Radio Moscow defy parody in their stilted predictability and should not be taken seriously. So if climate alarmists don’t publicly disown it, someone has to challenge it, on grounds of staleness as well as implausibility.

Especially as The Conversation masthead promises “Academic rigour, journalistic flair” before delivering such tiresomely predictable sentences as “Climate denialism has also been linked to traditional assumptions of masculinity.” Well, sure. Lots of things have been linked to lots of other things. Not always plausibly. But evidently “Research shows that climate deniers are more likely to adhere to older forms of industrial modern masculinity that helped to push society towards industrialization, mechanism and capitalism.” Wait, are wealth and development bad things now? Haven’t politicians spent the past hundred years promising to achieve them?

Probably they are. Especially when “some climate deniers prefer this older form of masculinity over a newer ‘eco-modern masculinity’ of care and compassion for the environment.” (As if the archetypically-masculine ranchers and farmers have never had a thought for the land to which they live a lot closer than your typical urban university professor.)

So who exactly are these planet-trashing capitalist pigs? Here the article waves the produce-stained shopping bag: “A 2019 study found that some men will avoid certain environmental actions, such as recycling or using reusable shopping bags, in order to maintain ‘an outward-facing heterosexual identity.’ These versions of heterosexual masculinity appear to be predicated upon the domination and exploitation, rather than the preservation, of the environment.” Or maybe they don’t recycle because people are realizing it’s sometimes bad for the environment as well as unjustifiably expensive.

If the idea is to persuade Neanderthal readers to become non-heterosexually-masculine to save the whales, polar bears and entire planet, it might be a clumsy sales pitch. If it’s to get them to adopt an inward-facing heterosexual identity, it might be an incomprehensible one. Or maybe we could drop the notion that all ills are one, that all utilities can be maximized simultaneously (“Dismantling patriarchal assumptions about gender is not just good for women, it is also good for men — and for the planet”) and that nothing can be done until everything is done. And give a bit of thought to practical steps instead of a torrent of cliched insults.

Finally, let’s stop with the ruse that denying that denial is sexist is itself proof of sexism, the classic closed circle familiar from show trials in which claiming innocence shows guilt beyond doubt. Or satire.

2 comments on “It is more patriarchy”

  1. There is (or was) a version of the Barbie doll where you pull a cord out of her back, and she speaks canned phrases when the cord retracts. Catherine McKenna is just like that. She doesn't think about what she says; she isn't a scientist, or even a deep thinker. When she yammers on about climate, she is just mindlessly parroting debunked talking points. The "Climate Barbie" label fits quite well, IMO.

  2. A couple of thoughts. If I can be compared to a denier of the "final solution", she can be called "Climate Barbie". Her movement started the denier label, not us.
    Second, this had nothing to do with climate change, it was simply a jackass harassing a mother with her kids. There is a time and a place for tackling a politician. That was not it.

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