From storms named after women that cause more damage because people prepare for them less to men who refuse to recycle because they think it looks girly, climate damage is riven with toxic masculinity, a new exhibition argues.
The exhibition, titled “Man-Made Disaster: Patriarchy and the Planet,” went on display on Thursday at Protein Studios in east London and through an online portal.
Climate change is a “man-made” crisis in every sense, with male-dominated culture fueling damaging behavior while women and girls disproportionately pay the price, the creative team behind the art show said.
It hopes to shed light on the issue with an exhibition responding to themes of gender and climate by 30 artists who are women or do not identify as male or female.
“Climate change is sexist: It disproportionately affects women and girls precisely because they are already marginalized in our societies,” said Ashley Johnson, a member of Do The Green Thing, the environmental group that organized the show.
“There’s gendered consequences, there’s gendered causes and there’s gendered solutions. We wanted to explore that as an idea and offer artists the chance to respond to it,” Johnson said.
Women and girls suffer more than men from the effects of climate change, experts have said.
They account for 80 percent of those displaced as a result and their vulnerabilities are exposed during disasters, the UN has said.
Studies suggest that men have bigger carbon footprints on average and are more skeptical of climate change, with a paper from Yale University saying that some are put off from environmentalism because they see it as feminine.
“Women on every metric you can think of generally are more environmentally friendly,” Johnson said.
“They are more likely to recycle, they litter less, they are more likely to buy an electric car, they are more likely to vote for politicians who care about the environment,” she said.
“Men, on the other hand, are often influenced by toxic masculinity ... and make the exact opposite choice, because they are worried that environmental behavior brands them as feminine,” she added.
Artworks ranged from portraits of women and girls threatened by climate change to pieces offering suggestions for solutions.
There were also more light-hearted contributions, such as a work dressing up bins as strongmen and monsters to help tackle stigma for men around recycling.
Sophie Thomas, a graphic artist, contributed works with the neon quote “I want you to panic” from 16-year-old climate advocate Greta Thunberg over a tangled black background of comments from prominent male climate-change skeptics.
“These pieces are about urgency,” she said.
“The research I did around my piece ... was looking at some of the voices we have been hearing very loudly for the past decade, which are the big climate deniers and they are very male,” Thomas said.
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