junot díaz: what links climate change denial and toxic masculinity? fear of vulnerability01 Nov 2017
back in september, i listened to junot díaz get interviewed on on being. there were many excellent quotes from that episode but the one that hit me the hardest was this:
But I would also say that there is a challenge, in being human, that we have vulnerable needs, but we also have minds that can deceive us that these needs are unimportant. And for many of us, to be able to trust somebody else, to be able to have faith that someone else or that the future or that the community can take care of us, that we will not be destroyed when we lower our defenses, for many of us, that’s a challenge. And yet, you can’t have any kind of love, whether we’re talking about civic love or we’re talking about interpersonal love, without first dropping those defenses, without first making yourself vulnerable.
I mean ultimately, when you look at it — you don’t want to be too simplistic, but the nature of having these chats is, you oversimplify — but when you think about it, look at the whole debate around climate change. The whole debate around climate change is a bunch of lying fools sitting around, almost all male, but whatever — a bunch of lying fools saying, “The earth is not vulnerable. There is no injury.” And there’s just a repetition here; there’s this mantra that comes out of these hegemonies, which is: “We are invulnerable. We’re not vulnerable. There is no loss. We don’t need to change anything” that just is — it’s just destroying us, man. And it’s so dull and wearying, and yet, we’re all caught up in this madness, simply because of our pride, our inability to be like, “Hey, man, that hurts. Hey, man, that’s scary. Hey, sister, that’s humiliating.”
i don’t know why, but it hit me like a mack truck. it is so obvious.✱
the same people who cannot fathom that humans have the capacity to change something as huge as mother earth are the same people who are afraid of their feelings. they create denial on both fronts.
on the climate change front, i have read and heard specific arguments from people along the lines of:
the earth is just going through natural cycles and it has nothing to do with us, and
this idea was crafted by the left or china in order to achieve economic gains
there’s more, too, but in both cases, the place for responsibility is external. i think at some point in the past people used to actually say that nothing is changing but i think even the most intense deniers aren’t saying that anymore. but they’re still diverting attention away from themselves as a part of the problem.
and on the toxic masculinity side, the arguments look different on the face, but they achieve the same ends:
i am strong and therefore i must make sure i am not vulnerable. strength and vulnerability are opposites
in my [household, community, world] what i say goes
of course, the people leading the charge in both of these lanes tend to be white cishet men. but that almost goes without saying. nothing that challenges their worldviews can be tolerated.
but the reality is that the earth is being changed by our activity. the climate is changing. and, similarly, our species is being harmed by toxic masculinity. we are weaker for it. in both cases, this fear of vulnerability seems to need addressing. we need to clearly and explicitly be able to locate our role in the system in orderto correctly identify the problem and then take formulate the proper courses of action. without that, will just continually problem solve at the wrong scale, in the wrong places, with the wrong strategies, etc.
anyway, junot’s full description of the connection on the show is much better than what i just laid out. definitely listen through the episode if you get a chance and if you just want to here this part, here’s a timestamped link: https://overcast.fm/+BYAbhaNOI/35:32
✱ this view, of course, doesn’t address the people who know that climate change is real aren’t, but we’re not talking about them right now.
words / writing / post-processing
?w / 16min / 10min