We live in a society where we've been handed certain gender roles from the time we're born. So, while we're pretty used to diversifying between the genders, what if we told you that now you could be classified as feminine or masculine based on how you care for the environment? Seems rather odd, doesn't it? Well, a new study found that certain pro-environmental behaviours might be seen as feminine or masculine.
The study was also able to find that men and women were more likely to question a man's sexual orientation if he displayed 'feminine' behaviours like reusing shopping bags. Similarly, they also tend to avoid women who display 'masculine' pro-environmental behaviours like caulking windows. Men also tend to avoid women who were more interested in such 'masculine behaviours'.
“There may be subtle, gender-related consequences when we engage in various pro-environmental behaviours,” said study author Janet K Swim. Swim added, “People may avoid certain behaviours because they are managing the gendered impression they anticipate others will have of them. Or they may be avoided if the behaviours they choose do not match their gender.”
“Behaviours don’t just help us accomplish something concrete, they also signal something about who we are. Line drying clothes or keeping tires at proper pressures may signal that we care about the environment, but if those behaviours are seen as gendered, they may signal other things, as well,” she said.
Three studies were conducted on 960 participants. For the first two studies, the participants were shown fictional stories of people who performed certain masculine, feminine, or non-gender specific pro-environmental roles on a daily basis. The participants were then asked to guess which roles they thought were feminine and which were masculine. They also had to guess what the person's sexual orientation might be.
“Reflecting the tendency to see environmentalism as feminine, all the people were rated as more feminine than masculine regardless of the behaviours they did,” Swim said. It was ultimately found that participants labelled people who conformed to their gender roles as more heterosexual. So, basically, a man seemed more manly if he opted for more 'masculine' pro-environmental roles. Even though other neutral roles were not viewed as gay or lesbian, the participants still seemed to struggle with giving these roles an identity.
The third study was done merely to figure out who people would avoid based on 'pro-environmental' masculine or feminine behaviours. It was then found that women were more likely to avoid men when it came to discussing environmental topics. And men were likely to avoid women when it came to women displaying 'masculine behaviour'. It was also found that women were more likely to experience negative consequences from men for displaying 'masculine' or non-gender specific behaviours.
“We were surprised that it was only women who experienced being avoided if they engaged in nonconforming gender-role behaviours,” Swim said. Well, this certainly does say a lot about sexuality and gender roles still being explored. Stay tuned for more updates.