I do not know if the average Australian understands just how hard it is, in 2016, to be an environmentally conscious man who is also committed to maintaining a strong and unshakeable sense of masculinity.
Do you understand what it is like to desperately want to join the fight against the degradation of our natural world, but to be hamstrung by the need to minimise the ever-present risk that I could slip into unmanliness?
A new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research — Is Eco-Friendly Unmanly? The Green-Feminine Stereotype and Its Effect on Sustainable Consumption — has found that men shy away from environmentally responsible activity due to fear of its effect on their gender identity.
Men see the purchasing of green products and the performance of green practices as feminine, and are hence less likely to engage in them, for fear of having their masculinity diminished.
I wish I could make people understand. I wish I could make people see that, when I litter, I am not doing it out of reckless disregard for the future of the human race.
I am not hurling my burger wrappers and Coke bottles into the street with any kind of gay abandon.
Indeed, I do it with a heavy heart, because I know only too well of the waterways that will be choked, the wildernesses that will be despoiled, the animals that may be exterminated, by my destructive-yet-attractively-decisive abuse of nature.
Recycling does not a manly man make
But what choice do I have, when I know that if I am seen not littering, onlookers might question my manhood?
What would you do, if confronted with that awful choice — to toss your waste into a designated receptacle, or dispatch it to the four winds with a throaty chuckle — while feeling the eyes of the public upon you?
All those silently judgmental watchers ready, as soon as you put your rubbish in the bin, to text all their friends and loved ones, “OMG you won’t believe what a gigantic girlie-man I just saw!”
That tension, multiplied by about a hundred, is what I feel every single day.
Because of course I want to recycle, of course I want to reduce my carbon footprint, of course I want to donate large portions of my income to environmental activist organisations.
But the minute I do any of these things, I will be labelled, by both my personal circle of acquaintances and society at large, a sissy. And that is something I simply cannot countenance.
It is a problem that we need to acknowledge in our community.
Everyone knows environmentalism is for girls
The movement does not even try to hide this: think of all the times that Greens MPs have publicly demanded action on climate change, always emphasising the soft, effeminate nature of emissions trading schemes.
Remember the notorious Greenpeace slogan, still in use today: “Be A Woman: Save The Planet.”