Snowflakes and Micropenises: Delicate Male Ego a Threat to Planet

December 29, 2017

I’ve often observed that a much cheaper option to the giant, roaring SUV/ORV is a simple bumper sticker that says, “Damn Right I have a Small Penis.”

Never more true than in the tiny-handed era of Trump.

Scientific American:

Women have long surpassed men in the arena of environmental action; across age groups and countries, females tend to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Compared to men, women litter less, recycle more, and leave a smaller carbon footprint. Some researchers have suggested that personality differences, such as women’s prioritization of altruism, may help to explain this gender gap in green behavior.

Our own research suggests an additional possibility: men may shun eco-friendly behavior because of what it conveys about their masculinity. It’s not that men don’t care about the environment. But they also tend to want to feel macho, and they worry that eco-friendly behaviors might brand them as feminine.

The research, conducted with three other colleagues, consisted of seven experiments involving more than 2,000 American and Chinese participants. We showed that there is a psychological link between eco-friendliness and perceptions of femininity. Due to this “green-feminine stereotype,” both men and women judged eco-friendly products, behaviors, and consumers as more feminine than their non-green counterparts.  In one experiment, participants of both sexes described an individual who brought a reusable canvas bag to the grocery store as more feminine than someone who used a plastic bag—regardless of whether the shopper was a male or female.  In another experiment, participants perceived themselves to be more feminine after recalling a time when they did something good versus bad for the environment.


Men may eschew green products and behaviors to avoid feeling feminine.  In one study, we threatened the masculinity of male participants by showing them a pink gift card with a floral design and asking them to imagine using the card to purchase three products (lamp, backpack, and batteries).  Compared to men shown a standard gift card, threatened men were more likely to choose the non-green rather than green version of each item.  The idea that emasculated men try to reassert their masculinity through non-environmentally-friendly choices suggests that in addition to littering, wasting water, or using too much electricity, one could harm the environment merely by making men feel feminine.

Ironically, although men are often considered to be less sensitive than women, they seem to be particularly sensitive when it comes to perceptions of their gender identity. In fact, a previous study suggests that men find it to be more difficult than women to choose between masculine and feminine versions of everyday food and household items and will usually change their preferences to be more manly when allowed time to think about their decisions. Something as simple as holding a purse, ordering a colorful drink, or talking in a high voice can lead to social harm, so men tend to keep a sharp eye out for any of these potential snares.

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.

Second, green products and organizations can be marketed as more “Men”-vironmentally-friendly, with more masculine fonts, colors, words, and images used in the branding. To illustrate, men in one experiment were more likely to donate to a green non-profit with a masculine logo (black and dark blue colors featuring a howling wolf, with the name “Wilderness Rangers” in a bold font) than one with a traditional logo (green and light tan colors featuring a tree, with the name “Friends of Nature” in a frilly font).  And in a field study conducted at a BMW dealership in China, male customers were more interested in a hybrid vehicle after viewing a print ad featuring a masculine term in the model’s description than when viewing the traditional print ad.

Together, these findings highlight how the green-feminine stereotype inhibits men from taking eco-friendly actions, and suggest that masculine affirmation and masculine branding may be effective in narrowing the gender gap in environmentalism. Make the man feel manly, and he’s more likely to go green.

15 Responses to “Snowflakes and Micropenises: Delicate Male Ego a Threat to Planet”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    As a cyclist on another blog pointed out, he’s out on the road fully exposed but for a helmet, and yet is considered a wuss by men riding in a climate-controlled heavy pickup.

    • grindupbaker Says:

      I never did those Vancouver naked rides myself and I’m decrepit now, but I’ve admiration for that guy you mentioned.

    • botterd Says:

      Well do I remember how such “men” reacted when confronted “man to man” after I followed them to a parking lot upon attempts at grievous bodily harm in traffic, surprised at how fast you can catch automobiles in traffic on your racing bike — they pissed their pants, anticipating the beating they so richly deserved.

      • grindupbaker Says:

        It’s frowned on though, and can escalate. You’re supposed to be above all that and use “conflict resolution” and that stuff and more importantly I’m blind as a bat the instant my glasses are smashed, which happened to me in a minor punch up 1963 (over a girl). Also, if you get annoyed at stuff while riding I find it causes a surge that leads to sugar collapse soon afterwards with some dizziness and takes a while to restore balance for the rest of the day of riding. It always did that to me. “conflict resolution” instead commensurate with the brainy types that tend to frequent this web log.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        I put up with abuse for decades, finally was compelled to chase and usually catch car drivers who pulled trifectas (illegal, dangerous and stupid) moves.

        The right hook (passing a cyclist and immediately turning right without signaling or stopping at a stop sign or light):

        Obviously-intentional brush backs (swerving to miss the cyclist as closely as possible; really, really stupid in rush hour traffic, which is when it happened most, and clearly extremely dangerous*). There were dozens of equally insane dangerous things drivers do to cyclists (even more to women cyclists, in my experience).

        Etc. There are too many common bonehead driver moves to list.

        When I caught the car I would get in front of the car, put my bike on the ground in front of me and stand, in anatomical position so they’d know I wasn’t armed and was also asking silently what the hell they were doing. I would do nothing…

        often for a long time. If they got abusive I would get more patient. (Projection works both ways, in my case consciously, in theirs, usually not, I’m afraid.) Most times the encounter lasted less than 5 minutes, though that apparently seemed like several days to some drivers. If I was able to talk to them I’d make the point that they had put my life in danger when I was simply doing what they were doing–going where I needed to be, in a better way.

        Research has shown that the more cyclists there are on the road, the safer everyone is–cyclists, pedestrians and drivers. Infrastructure changes are also needed–work and home closer, protected bikeways… as well as education for drivers.

        *An unmarked utility-like truck with a few guys who would have been rolling coal if that were a thing then, once passed me going the other way, did a U-turn and came up behind me. As I got in lane position to turn left into the parking lot of my workplace, the driver passed me on the right and hit my shoulder with his mirror. I stayed upright but was slammed into a turn into the oncoming lane, being missed by a couple of inches by an oncoming car going at least 40. If the truck had hit me one second later, some number between me and all of us would be dead now. Things like this have happened to me literally thousands of times. I’m now disabled because on my way home from work an SUV driver I had passed about 30 seconds before, turned right without looking, plowing into me in the bike lane.

        • grindupbaker Says:

          Not that bad in T.O. & Vancouver. Definitely no more than 1 poor driving example per 1,000 km bicycled. I got concussion 3 years ago when my head broke a car windshield. Just some old guy trying to drive a car they say. If you’re too disabled to ride then I hope you developed substitutes because I’m familiar with ennui & lethargy that happens when the fitness drops. Look after yourself.

          • J4Zonian Says:

            Thanks, you too. Obviously there’s more of a story with yours but I guess this isn’t the place for it. I hope you’re well.

            My point was really about how much we need to change cities so biking is safer and easier. It’s a crucial climate solution but when I was riding, despite being a good, careful rider (>300k miles) I came close to being hit virtually every day (1 hour round trip commute), was doored twice, hit or driven off the road several other times…

            Vancouver has certainly done a lot more than most US cities; it’s often featured in online articles and videos. Most of what happens where I live is superficial and ridiculous–“bicycle boulevards” that aren’t anything at all except bike outlines painted on the street like chalk outlines, bike lanes that are actually door zones, bike lanes that disappear right when they’re needed the most, (where streets get busy, have lots of commercial driveways, etc. ) Until we get serious enough about climate/larger crisis and health to get rid of most cars on the road it’s unlikely any of this will change substantially.

            I’ve recently gotten to the point of thinking that especially once self-driving EVs are the rule, (10 years from now?) the only solution will be to make private car ownership illegal everywhere but for some people in very rural areas.

  2. So why does eco friendly womenhood look for partners in the careless, dirty, lazy, polluting masculine world? Could it be that while they are carrying the shopping in their re usable, recyclable, sustainably produced bag, they are looking dreamily over at the beefcake in the lot with his V8 diesel, drinking beer, blowing smoke and generally trying to get noticed?

  3. ubrew12 Says:

    Both big fossils and their GOP enablers are aware of men’s gender anxiousness, so they promote this idea that loving the outdoors is somehow feminine. Blowing black smoke out ones tailpipe is the ultimate insult to ‘mother nature’, but I’d invite anyone so inclined to spend a month in Beijing or New Delhi.

  4. MorinMoss Says:

    If Obama has suggested we use only use eco-friendly toilet paper, these triggered snowflakes would have started sh***ing in the streets

  5. ” loving the outdoors is somehow feminine”

    One would imagine Teddy Roosevelt would find a pretty colorful way to educate on that hypothesis….

    but a punch in the nose would be a very eloquent argument. Hmmm… likely how Teddy would do it as well.

  6. fjohnx Says:

    Trout fisherman rarely suffer from gender anxiety.

  7. Sir Charles Says:

    Just shoot these SUV bastards. They’re only wasting oxygen. The quicker they’re done the better.

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