Friday, December 21, 2007

Environmental Sexism

Vanessa at Feministing links to this disgusting set of sexist ads from an environmental website. Sexism has long been a problem in the environmental movement. From Edward Abbey's stereotypical portrayal of women in works such as The Monkey-Wrench Gang to similar ads as above produced by PETA, environmentalism has never done a good job of dealing with sexism. I believe there are at least two identifiable reasons for this. First are the connections between masculinity and nature that so many environmentalists still imbibe in. This runs from Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir to Abbey and Dave Foreman. Also important is that makeup of the environmental activist. Environmentalism tends to attract a good number of committed white men who want to make a difference but are indifferent to hostile about confronting their own racism or sexism. They eschew movements that would make them do so. Environmentalism becomes a comfortable place for them. Since the trees are more important than people, we don't have to worry about the problems of people like sexism or racism (see Zero Population Growth).

The ad of the woman around the tree that reads "Hot Chix Dig Dudes Who Hug a Tree" bears a strong similarity to the classic sexist anti-Vietnam War slogan, "Girls Say Yes to Guys Who Say No." The feminist movement came straight out of the sexism women faced in the New Left. With the decline of eco-feminism among young environmental activists, will a new form of feminism fight against the sexism so pervasive in the movement today? I sure hope so.