STUDY: Fossil fuels contribute to ‘petro-masculinity’
A feminist professor at Virginia Tech University is warning that fossil fuels are contributing to a warped sense of “masculine identity” and “authoritarianism” among men.
Cara Daggett, who teaches classes on politics and global security at Virginia Tech, penned her criticism of petro-masculinity in an essay “Petro-masculinity: Fossil Fuels and Authoritarian Desire” for the most recent issue of Millennium: Journal of International Studies.
"[Like] other masculinities, petro-masculinity should be understood as manifesting in multiple, and locally specific, ways."
Writing in response to the 2016 election, Daggett coins the term “petro-masculinity” to describe what she sees as a convergence of “climate change, a threatened fossil fuel system, and an increasingly fragile Western hypermasculinity.”
“Petro-masculinity, like fossil fuel systems, arguably has global dimensions,” Daggett asserts. “However, like other masculinities, petro-masculinity should be understood as manifesting in multiple, and locally specific, ways.”
“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,’” she adds, quoting other academic literature on the topic.
Unlike the “hegemonic masculinity” of the past—which is a general term to describe masculinity under patriarchy—Daggett claims that petro-masculinity is a recent phenomenon, specifically triggered by global warming.
Petro-masculinity, she claims, ultimately aims “to defend the endangered status quo, entrenching the petrocultures that have historically propped up Anglo-European fossil-burning men.”
“In this context, burning fossil fuels can come to function as a knowingly violent experience, a reassertion of white masculine power on an unruly planet that is perceived to be increasingly in need of violent, authoritarian order,” Daggett argues.
According to the professor, men’s desire to burn fossil fuels can also explain the concept of misogyny.
“Fossil-fuelled life has always been violent,” she says, later adding that “fossil violence” should “also be appreciated as a misogynist tactic, if we follow Kate Manne to think of misogyny not as an individual belief—the hatred of women—but instead as a set of practices.”
Prior to her essay on petro-masculinity, Daggett’s most notable publication was a 2015 article titled, “Drone Disorientations: How ‘Unmanned’ Weapons Queer the Experience of Killing in War.”
The academic declined an interview with Campus Reform.
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