At the beginning of September, People’s Party of Canada’s leader Maxime Bernier denigrated environmental activist Greta Thunberg in a tweet, calling her “mentally unstable.” Although he later retracted and apologized for his comment, this just illustrates yet another ugly, misogynistic face of climate change deniers.
Really, why do white men seem to have a harder time accepting the environmental crisis than others? Worse even when a woman is in a powerful position and has a strong voice in the matter?
Research published by Oxford University explored the green-feminine stereotype, where both men and women judged eco-friendly products, behaviours, and consumers as more feminine. Simply put, it showed that men believe climate action is “unmanly.”
What Bernier did by attacking the 16-year-old activist was a demonstration of white fragility. Thunberg isn’t posting photos of what she is eating seeking some kind of instant glory. Her message is not a personal cry, but one that is universal. Inevitably, she confronts us with our own actions – or, mostly, our inactions.
It seems that Conservative white men have found their arch enemy within voices like Thunberg’s, which represent everything they believe is slowing them down; women and caring for the environment.
But truly, how fragile is masculinity to believe that environmental actions are more feminine? Isn’t it ironic that men tend to be considered less sensitive than women, but when it comes to the perception of their masculinity, we are suddenly walking on eggshells?
As Thunberg will be making her way towards Montreal to attend the climate protest on Sept. 27, we can only expect to see more misogynistic comments online. Comments which, sadly, switch the focus of what’s really at stake. The environmental crisis should not be a battle of the sexes.
Graphic by Victoria Blair