In a study conducted by Scientific American with over 2,000 American and Chinese participants, researchers found that people perceive that there is a link between “green behavior” and femininity — which means that men aren't recycling because they think it's too girly.
This study was done as a response to previous research suggesting a gender gap in "green behavior." According to Scientific American, past studies have shown that women have been found to recycle more, litter less, and leave behind a smaller carbon footprint than men.
In a country with ingrained sexism and a president who infamously said “Grab her by the pussy,” it comes at no surprise that some men are afraid that being too environmentally friendly will lower their macho manliness and thus, their social status.
In the Scientific American study, one experiment found that participants of both sexes read a scenario including an image of a person with groceries in a plastic bag and then a person with a canvas bag. The participants rated the canvas bag scenario as more environmentally friendly. Then a significant number of participants rated the scenario with the canvas bag to be more feminine, regardless of the sex of the person holding the bag.
Another experiment entailed having male participants being given a pink flowery gift card, which represented a threat to their masculinity. They then had to decide between buying both eco-friendly and regular items from a store with the gift card. The participants were found less likely to pick the eco-friendly product following the "gender threat."
The study concluded by suggesting companies brand environmentally friendly products as masculine in order to promote green behavior in more men. This tip could spiral, either ending up with all of the garbage cans in America being painted pink so the masculine men will go to the obviously more manly green recycling bins, or having eco-friendly products branded labeled as “Whisky Bodybuilding Pine Soap for Only the Manliest of Men.”
There is an alternative to the masculine branding strategy: America cracks down on gender roles. Instead of catering toward the social enforcement of strict division in behaviors, gender could be taught about more extensively in public schools, along with environmental studies, for that matter.
Photo by Paul Symes via Flickr Creative Commons
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Gianna Folz is a BUST intern, writer, reluctant runner, and occasional tweeter when angry about something. Follow and connect @gianna_folz