We recently discussed the seemingly endless examples of binary gender stereotypes in our society, including the scourge of hot wings. Now Virginia Tech Professor Cara Daggett seems to have found a form of toxic masculinity that is actually toxic: “petro-masculinity.” Daggett has an essay entitled “Petro-masculinity: Fossil Fuels and Authoritarian Desire” in Millennium: Journal of International Studies. She warns that fossil fuels are actually combustible mixes of “masculine identity” and “authoritarianism” among men. It seems the favorite GOP slogan of “Drill, Baby, Drill” is sexist on multiple levels.
Daggett’s summary states:
“As the planet warms, new authoritarian movements in the West are embracing a toxic combination of climate denial, racism and misogyny. Rather than consider these resentments separately, this article interrogates their relationship through the concept of petro-masculinity, which appreciates the historic role of fossil fuel systems in buttressing white patriarchal rule. Petro-masculinity is helpful to understanding how the anxieties aroused by the Anthropocene can augment desires for authoritarianism. The concept of petro-masculinity suggests that fossil fuels mean more than profit; fossil fuels also contribute to making identities, which poses risks for post-carbon energy politics. Moreover, through a psycho-political reading of authoritarianism, I show how fossil fuel use can function as a violent compensatory practice in reaction to gender and climate trouble.”
“Anthropocene” is a reference to the the current geological age. It appears to be a favorite term for Daggett’s past work like Energy at Work: Fossil Ethics in the Anthropocene; “Thermodynamics.” In A Lexicon for an Anthropocene Yet Unseen; and “World-Viewing as World-Making: Feminist technoscience and the aesthetics of the Anthropocene.”
Apparently, the “post-carbon energy politics” will change “identities” is a less masculine order.
Daggett sees a convergence of “climate change, a threatened fossil fuel system, and an increasingly fragile Western hypermasculinity.” It is not clear why the West is being singled bout for its hypermasculinity other than it may not be as acceptable to criticize African or Asian or Latin American identities despite the heavy production of oil in some of those areas. Indeed, the West has led the world in the push for equal rights and opportunities for women despite our “petromasculine” issues.
Daggest distinguishes her newly identified “petromasculinity” from run of the mill “hegemonic masculinity” though the dividing line can be a bit difficult to discern. She explains “Petro-masculinity approaches masculinity as a socially constructed identity that emerges ‘within a gender order that defines masculinity in opposition to femininity, and in so doing, sustains a power relation between men and women as groups.’”
Again, she prefers to keep her criticisms out of the Third World and explains that petromasculinity “defend[s] the endangered status quo, entrenching the petrocultures that have historically propped up Anglo-European fossil-burning men.”
Those “Anglo-European fossil-burning men” of the West are the driving force of this new field of toxic masculinity.
The article is instructive in how identifying new forms of gender bias or toxic masculinity can propel one into academic publishing, including in combing masculine with common terms. With oil and hot wings and other common objects taken, the race is on. I would like to claim a few terms as a place holder just in case:
–carbo-masculinity (the use of high carbohydrate foods for male bonding and the marginalization of women).
–turbo-masculinity (the use of high-performance cars to perpetuate macho, male-dominated, speed-focused society”)
All of these new forms, of course, are focused on Anglo-European men in the Anthropocene.