Once again, toxic masculinity emerges as one of the most corrosive forces on the planet. A new study from the journal Scientific American suggests men are less likely than women to engage in ecofriendly behavior, not because they’re less concerned about the environment, but because they’re worried it might undermine their masculinity. Because nothing makes you seem more like a wimpy little girl than wanting froufrou things like “breathable air” and for “whole continents not to sink under rising seas.”
In seven experiments conducted with over 2,000 American and Chinese participants, researchers found both men and women had a “green-feminine stereotype,” and judged ecofriendly purchases and behaviors as more feminine than their non-green alternatives. For example, individuals who brought a reusable canvas bag to the grocery store were perceived as more feminine than those who used plastic bags. Another experiment found that men who were presented with a pink, floral gift card were more likely to purchase environmentally unfriendly items than men who were given a standard gift card.
In a truly demoralizing paragraph, researchers explain how companies can offset this reaction:
So what can pro-environmental marketers do to buffer against the threat posed to men by the green-feminine stereotype? First, eco-friendly marketing messages and materials can be designed to affirm men’s masculinity and give them the confidence to overcome their fear of being judged as feminine when engaging in green behaviors. For example, in one experiment, men who received feedback affirming their masculinity were more interested in purchasing an eco-friendly version of a cleaning product. Men who feel secure in their manhood are more comfortable going green.
They go on to suggest products and organizations be marketed as more “Men-vironmentally friendly” by using more masculine fonts, words, and images.