A Study Claims Men Don’t Like To Recycle Because It Makes Them Appear ‘Girly’
Recycling can be pretty confusing sometimes. We still don’t know which plastics we’re supposed to put in the recycling box and which ones we’re supposed to throw into the trash. It’s just easier to throw everything into the trash can and whisper a wish over our waste that it doesn’t slowly destroy the Earth and that it’ll come back to us someway, somehow as another, different water bottle. Recycling isn’t easy as it should be, and yet, we have every reason in the world do it it, specifically the world. The world is our reason. It’s worth going through the hassle of washing everything and Googling if it should go in the recycling, trash, or compost.
But some people just don’t like to recycle no matter what. Even if it’s easy for them. They won’t do it. And surprise, surprise, they don’t actually have a good reason for not recycling.
There is a lot of stuff that is perceived as “girl stuff,” you know, stuff a guy would never dream of doing because of the way it would make him look.
It turns out that doing stuff that’s good for the environment also falls into gender roles.
There are actually some men who don’t recycle or use those canvas reusable totes because of the way it makes them look. And hint, they think it makes them look like a woman.
Dude Looks Like A Lady
A new study found that some men find doing things that help the environment to be “feminine.”
The reason why is because women are traditionally seen as caregivers, and helping the environment is also a caregiving activity, apparently.
So if a guy throws a bottle into the trash can when the recycling bin is literally right there, it’s not because he doesn’t care about the earth. It’s just because he doesn’t want to look like a girl.
Masculine And Feminine
There were three studies that used a total of 960 participants. The studies looked at the perception of men and women doing both“feminine” and “masculine” behaviors.
In the first two studies, participants read a fictional summary of someone’s daily activities. The summary contained traditionally male or female pro-environmental behaviors.
Then, they were asked to rated on a 10 point scale whether the person had masculine or feminine traits. They were also asked to guess what the person’s sexual orientation was.
It turns out, that the people found that when someone did the activities that are normally associated with their gender, they were perceived as heterosexual.
And when the people though that someone was doing something that didn’t fall in line with the normal actions of their gender, they were perceived as homosexual.
Basically, some people think that traditional gender roles have a lot to do with that person’s sexuality. But what does that have to do with recycling?
It turns out that environmentalism, and doing things associated with environmentalism, is perceived as a traditionally feminine thing. And that showed up in the study.
“Reflecting the tendency to see environmentalism as feminine, all the people were rated as more feminine than masculine regardless of the behaviours they did,” said Janet K Swim at Penn State University.
So if you’re recycling at a monster truck rally, what does that say about you?
It turns out, that thinking that environmentalism is more feminine might actually impact what a person does.
“If being seen as heterosexual is important to a person, that person may prioritise gender-conforming over gender-nonconforming pro-environmental behaviours in anticipation of how others might see them,” said Swim.
Does that mean women who want to be perceived as feminine have a tendency to recycle? Or is it just guys throwing plastic in the trash because they don’t want to look gay?
Go The Distance
It turns out, this goes so much deeper than you would think that it does.
The third study was actually pretty revealing. The researchers looked to see if people had a tendency to avoid each other based off of their environmental behavior preferences.
As it turns out, the men were much more likely to distance themselves from the women in the room who they thought displayed more masculine behaviors. What masculine behaviors? Not using a canvas bag?
One Way Street
But the way men distanced themselves from the women who they thought displayed more masculine tendencies surprised the researchers.
“We were surprised that it was only women who experienced being avoided if they engaged in nonconforming gender-role behaviors,” said Swim.
In other words, a woman isn’t going to not want to talk to a guy because she sees him rinsing out a plastic container so it can then be recycled. So it’s totally fine to do that.
No Good Reason
The findings of the study are a little bit weird, and researchers aren’t sure why this is.
“We can’t say why this is happening, but it is a social consequence. Women may be experiencing this negative feedback and might not know why,” said Swim.
We can blame not recycling on laziness, but it turns out the real reason why someone doesn’t recycle is a lot weirder and a lot more complex than we ever thought was possible.
It turns out, it wasn’t just men who were hurting the environment because they didn’t want to look gay.
Women were just as guilty of it, too. There are some things, like caulking windows to save energy, that are good for the environment, but women weren’t doing them because they didn’t want to come off as masculine.
It turns out, the thing that might be destroying the environment is not wanting to look “bad” in front of other people.
As it turns out, men don’t want to do a lot of stuff because they don’t want to “look gay.”
Another study found that some men actually think that wiping their butt makes them seem gay. As if people are following into the bathroom just to make fun of them.
When you don’t wipe your butt because you don’t want to be perceived a certain way, you know you have a problem with what others think of you.
Not only that, but some men don’t bake because they don’t want to come off as being a friend of Dorothy.
Did the Great British Bake Off teach us nothing? Do they not know that baking actually makes Paul Hollywood look straighter for some reason?
It’s been a minute since we’ve seen a straight man take a dance class for that very same reason, too. As if the whole class is gong to turn around and point fingers.
The environment is very important, and we all need to do our part in taking care of it.
It would be a shame to have the planet turn into a heaping trash fire just because a woman didn’t want to have people think she was acting like a dude, or because a guy thought that driving a Prius made him look like a girl.
The environment is much more important than gender issues and our hangups about them.
For The Future
Recycling and doing your part to take care of the environment isn’t just for you. It’s for all of the future generations that come after you.
Maybe in the future, boys will proudly walk around with reusable canvas tote bags because it makes them look like they’re actually trying to make an impact on the environment.
And in the future, maybe girls will go around caulking their windows because they don’t care what they look like either.
The Bigger Picture
Everyone lives on the Earth, no matter what their gender or sexual orientation happens to be.
We all use this space, and we shouldn’t care what other people think about us when we’re taking care of it.
There are some activities that everyone should feel comfortable doing no matter what, and that includes those that take care of the Earth and the environment. And, for obvious reasons, wiping your butt should be one of those things as well.