The patriarchy and toxic masculinity is killing the planet - why sustainability needs feminism

Updated: Jun 16

Women tend to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Compared to men, women litter less, recycle more, and leave a smaller carbon footprint - and the reason is toxic masculinity, study finds.

In spite of the great efforts to reduce climate change by women all over the world the impacts of climate change is worse for women because of discrimination, gender norms and poverty.

The reason for women being more green is routed in toxic masculinity a study published in Scientific American discovered:

Toxic masculinity isn’t just harmful to men and society as a whole — it’s also harmful to the planet, according to a new study. The study found that men were more likely to rate environmentally friendly actions and products as feminine and choose environmentally harmful activities and products as a way to reassert their masculinity.

Emasculated men tried to make up for their fragile masculinity by making environmentally harmful choices. That means that in addition to men littering more, recycling less and having a bigger carbon footprint, men that feel that their masculinity is being threatened will actively harm the environment.

Because making environmental-friendly changes to your lifestyle (like going vegan, bringing a reusable bag or driving an electric car) is seen as feminine, a lot of men don't want to show that they care about the enviournment. This is also why we don’t see as many men in the climate change movement. This needs to change!

The authors of the study wanted to market eco-friendly habits as more 'manly' to make it more attractive for men to change their habbits. This solution seems contradictory and ironic but as the authors point out: “Although men are often considered to be less sensitive than women, they seem to be particularly sensitive when it comes to perceptions of their gender identity”.

We have to focus on dismantling toxic masculinity, breaking down gender norms and including more women in the decision-making on climate change policies, if we want to turn the tide on climate change. Projects without women's participation can increase excisting inequality and decrease effectiveness as opposed to projects with women leaders which has lead to improved outcomes of climate change projects and policies (United Nations Climate Change Secretariat).

Saving our planet should not only be a burden for women to lift! Let's destroy the patriarchy and not the planet.

Happy international women’s day!

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