A forbidden thought I’ve been having for a while is that climate hysteria is largely a female thing. Reactionary psychopaths as different as Rupert Murdoch and Boris Johnson have been reined back from their natural tendency to destroy the planet by their better halves. While the hard science people who actually stick their thermometers up the world’s polar backsides are still largely masculine, those who interpret the results of their travails are more and more feminine in gender. Take Cara Daggett for example. Not yet a household name, Dr. Daggett is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Virginia Tech. She was recently interviewed at Mediapart, a rather good French left wing on-line news website specialising in investigative journalism, with an unfortunate weakness for Wokeness with green knobs on. (I subscribe to it nonetheless.)
Dr Daggett has a theory about climate and sex, which is great, because it means that I can have one too.
The following is my translation of the first part of this article: “Gender and sexuality structure the climate question” by Mickaël Correia
American researcher in political science, Cara Daggett offers a feminist reading of climate skepticism. Through the concept of “petro-masculinity”, she demonstrates how fossil fuels are a central element of the dominant male identity, but also how the extreme right is gaining ground on the climate issue.
Interviewer: Since 2018, you have been working on what you call “petro-masculinity”. How do you define this concept?
Cara Daggett: Petro-masculinity is a term I use to think about the connection between fossil fuels and white patriarchal power. In an article published in June 2018, titled “Petro-masculinity: Fossil Fuels and Authoritarian Desire,” I reflected on the fact that it was no coincidence that conservative white American men – regardless of their social class – appeared to be among the most vocal detractors of global warming, as well as the main proponents of fossil fuels in the West. The concept of petro-masculinity gave me a better understanding of how far-right movements were both misogynist and climate-denialist. Rather than seeing these two reactionary positions as separate issues, I tried to appreciate how they are closely related.
While forms of white masculinity are manifold, in speaking of petro-masculinity, I am trying to understand how fossil fuels like petroleum have become central elements for some dominant expressions of modern male identity. Carbon energies provide fuel and huge profits for states and businesses, but they have also become powerful conservative symbols, social representations of autonomy and self-sufficiency, especially in some former coal and oil regions of the USA like the Appalachians or Texas – even if they employ fewer and fewer people. This is why it is important to question the two discourses that private interests linked to fossil fuels repeat to us, again and again, in order to hamper climate action: that fossil fuels are synonymous with jobs and national independence.
If these narratives still have such appeal, it’s because they are based on powerful masculinized identities involving work, productivity, and nationalism, three dogmas that contribute to Americans seeing the land as nothing more than a resource to be exploited. I think this association between dominant masculinity and the power attributed to fuels has deeply permeated the Western perception of nature. A point of view where nature is understood as external to humans, something better to control and use as a resource in the service of economic growth. This is inspired by the eco-feminist intuition that the subordination of women and that of nature are historically linked.
Interviewer: How does global warming appear as a threat to patriarchal power? Are there any similarities to a certain “moral panic” that the feminist movement is causing among reactionaries today?
Cara Daggett: Global warming can be seen as a threat as it challenges a way of life that is based on industrialization based on fossil fuels. A deeply precarious way of life since it is based on the extraction of the planet’s resources and the exhausting work of a very large number of people. We happen to live in a time where this way of life is being deeply challenged on a number of fronts, from transnational feminist and decolonial movements to indigenous peoples’ defence of water and land to indigenous peoples. labor movements and racial justice movements like Black Lives Matter in the United States.
These movements have different histories and experiences, yet in many ways they oppose the forces of domination that emanate from the same power system. Others are reacting to the climate challenge with defensive anger, and want to harden and secure these power structures rather than change them – we see this in far-right movements gaining ground.
Aggression towards minorities can be felt as a welcome break from the guilt, resignation and often paralysis that grips the West in the face of global warming. Reactionary groups do not always explicitly make the connection between their hatred of feminism and their denial of climate change, and yet the pecking order they want to maintain at all costs is based on both sexism and the subordination of nature.
Interviewer:How are far-right movements gaining ground on the climate issue?
Cara Daggett: As the planet warms, new authoritarian movements in the West are embracing a toxic combination of climate denial, racism and misogyny. During his last election campaign, Donald Trump spoke of the “Suburban Lifestyle Dream”, a fantasy that combines all the vectors of sexism, racism, settler colonialism and ecological damage. […]
So, rather than seeing climate skepticism as a failure of science communication, it’s important to understand how climate denial can be linked to powerful identities and desires. Attachment to the virtues of a fossil fuel-based lifestyle, and all the social, racial, sexist hierarchies that depend on it, can produce a desire not only to deny, but to deny the reality of climate change.
Ignoring global warming is dangerous, but it is mostly a passive disposition, linked to frustration, despair and confusion. Dismissing climate change is different. The refusal is active and furious. It no longer just defends the status quo, but intensifies fossil energy systems until the last moment, which will often require the use of authoritarian policies.
It also helps explain the symbolic and cultural power of fossil fuel extraction and consumption. Sadly, while it was a relief when Trump lost his re-election, I don’t think we’ve seen the end of the policy of denying climate change, either in the United States or around the world.
..and so on. And Onan Onan on.
I went looking for more on Daggett, but every hit at DuckDuckGo came with a warning from my Browser that clicking on the link might result in my most intimate details being stolen. So I went to the Guardian, but they had nothing. Nothing on Daggett, but they had this article on knowledge of the common or garden vulva, which is currently among the most consulted, far ahead of George Monbiot’s latest.
“Most Britons cannot name all parts of the vulva, survey reveals. Nearly 40% mislabelled clitoris regardless of their gender. ”
The article at least has the decency to indicate the numbers of respondents:
The team distributed anonymous questionnaires to 171 women and 20 men attending general outpatient or urogynaecology clinics at a Manchester teaching hospital. They were asked how many holes women have down below (in their private parts), and to name them. Fewer than half identified the correct number.
Forgive me for pointing out that the twenty male outpatients at a uro(…)logy clinic maybe had other things on their minds than the number of holes etc. (And how many “holes” has a male? Define your terms.)
The article points out the serious implications of scientific ignorance among the general public:
Stephanie Shoop-Worrall, an epidemiologist at the University of Manchester, who was also involved in the research, said: “…If people are coming in for their hospital appointment and not understanding basic anatomy, or what’s even wrong with them, how can they properly consent to treatment?”
Quite. And how can people properly consent to the policies necessary to achieve net zero carbon emissions if f they don’t even know the number of holes in the argument of the official Guardians of Truth, the Climate Change Commission, the BBC, and the Ofcom-controlled media?
The Guardian article concludes with:
This article was amended on 30 May 2021 to replace the main image and change the accompanying graphic.
The accompanying graphic at the moment of writing is the one at the top of this article, which is obviously the Guardian’s interpretation of the non-existent tropical lower tropospheric hot-spot.
Relabelled for a planet in danger of suffering from the hot flushes.