Watching Sean Hannity smile and nod on Fox News Monday night while Newt Gingrich attempted to brush off presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's defense of a convicted (and brutal) rapist, I was further stunned that in the next breath, he began promoting Gingrich's Rediscovering God in America book and documentary. An ironic juxtaposition.
I flipped to another channel to watch coverage of Al Gore and an IPCC scientist accepting the Nobel Peace Prize. Finally, our dying planet getting some recognition. This lead me to an odd thought: feminism and global warming are really similar. Yes, this sounds weird, but hear me out.
In the Genesis creation story, after God gave Adam dominion over the earth, he eventually also told man to rule over woman.
With 92 percent of Americans telling the World Values Survey they believe in God, it's no surprise that media and critics represent feminism and global warming in a fundamentally similar way. Sometimes opinions about important issues are more formed by the terminology (or ideology) representing them, than the issues themselves.
Global warming and feminism have been marginalized or sensationalized in the media.
In the interest of fairness, members of the media will often try to represent "both sides" of an argument -- even if one of these sides represents the fringe. Or worse yet, if neither side represents any majority. Sometimes this practice rustles up the most arcane and unreputable viewpoints. It also marginalizes what's really going on.
Take for instance the global warming "debate." A 2006 study by University of California researcher Naomi Oreskes in the prestigious journal, Science, couldn't find a single peer-reviewed article going against the concept that the globe is warming and that humans play a role. Yet a recent Time magazine poll found that just over half (56 percent) of Americans think that average global temperatures are rising -- but that they also believe scientists are still divided on the issue! What gives? Could it be the media's incessant drive to be 'fair and balanced' has actually created public confusion on the issue?
Another way to unwittingly marginalize issues is via euphemisms. The term "global warming" seems almost charming. Same goes for "climate change." It sounds like a simple adjustment of the thermostat might clear up the problem. A growing number of the scientific community feel that global warming and climate change don't define what's really happening to our planet -- which is in fact, climate disruption.
Alternatively, sensationalizing stories about climate or women's issues is also a common habit which contributes to making them surreal to the public. Just like sex sells, so does sexism. Why settle for sensible remarks when you could have scandalous verbal jousting? It makes for a more attention-grabbing interview to get Crossfire-style comments from radical feminists or unabashed misogynists (yes, you Pat Buchanan).
Climate disruption and feminism are misrepresented by far-right conservatives who hate them both.
Rush Limbaugh has said "Feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream."
Pat Robertson's contribution to the conversation: "Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that paying heed to people like Limbaugh or Robertson won't benefit one's intellectual capacity. Unfortunately, these ideas have actually made it into popular opinion regarding feminism. Because of malicious stances like these, women and men today often feel that identifying as a feminist means hating men. Or that adding women means removing men. But serious researchers are taking a look into feminism and turning these misconceptions on their head. A recent Rutgers University study of heterosexual couples found that "having a feminist partner was linked to healthier heterosexual relationships for women. Men with feminist partners also reported both more stable relationships and greater sexual satisfaction."
The Fawcett Society, a UK-based organization, has launched a project to give the general public a more accurate picture of feminists (which are simply people believing social, political and other rights of women are equal to those of men). They've published a photo gallery featuring politicians, actors, authors and businesspeople wearing "This is What a Feminist Looks Like" t-shirts. Sound similar to Al Gore becoming the face of global climate change?
And now that it's become clear there is a serious problem in our climate system, die-hard dissenters simply change the argument... They say it could have nothing to do with human activity.
Apparently worshipping the sand in which his head is stuck, good 'ol Rush Limbaugh said, "The global warming people essentially are atheists. You cannot believe in the God of Creation and believe [in] manmade global warming. You just can't. You might run around and say, 'I don't want to destroy God's creation.' God's laughing at you. You can't! He could, but you can't. You can't create it; you can't destroy it."
Extremists like Limbaugh have had a lot to do with many in Middle America dragging their feet on the issue. Afraid of being labeled a radical tree-hugger or an atheist, people have long resisted taking a common sense approach to caring for our planet.
Even when an Evangelical Climate Initiative was formed in 2006, 22 prominent religious leaders tried to shoot it down with a joint letter saying "Global warming is not a consensus issue." This was accompanied by a report styled to represent a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) publication along with a petition. The NAS promptly issued a statement that the "petition has nothing to do with the National Academy of Sciences and the manuscript was not published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences or in any other peer-reviewed journal."
The petition was further found to include many fake names, or scientists with no background in climate science. But that didn't stop Pat Robertson's one million daily 700 Club viewers from watching it reported on as reputable and cited as a good reason to marginalize global warming.
Despite the lack of credibility, this propaganda eventually appeared in a fall 2007 journal published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons -- a pro-Ron Paul, anti-healthcare reform organization dedicated to defending the practice of free market private medicine. A pretty peculiar place for a paper on global warming, but no physical science journal would publish it. Afterall, that's what the good 'ol boys network is for, isn't it?
Anne Coulter, Michael Creighton, a Republican Senate Committee and others have misused scientist Peter Doran's research regarding Antarctic cooling to attempt at refuting the existence of climate disruption. Finally, this particular scientist to came out of the ivory tower and wrote a New York Times op-ed to correct the misuse.
Then several months ago, Pat Robertson became a self-proclaimed 'convert' to global warming theory. Unfortunately with the rapid consumption of earth's resources, this is like the church waiting 350 years to pardon Galileo.
Those living in large cities may not realize how prevalent dissent against both feminism and global warming are throughout Middle America. But the truth is, if men and women took a step back from the way control-mongers have defined these terms, the vast majority would realize they're both feminists and environmentalists.
And finally, both have become crucial issues during the '08 election.
Some analysts are declaring women the crux of the presidential election. And while the candidates scramble for their vote, they should not underestimate women's comprehension of the way climate disruption ties in with the US economy and security issues, among other things.
It's clear that no amount of marginalizing, or misrepresentation will make either feminism or climate disruption go away.