Women climate change leaders face (not only) online attacks

We have witnessed at times, even hysterical outbursts by fighters to save the planet from, frankly, devastating climate change. In the midst of their efforts to portray to the world, all the seriousness and the dangers of climate change, they may sometimes exaggerate in their appearances, but this is certainly not the reason for the increasingly frequent attacks on such activists in public and in public places. While it was being roasted on social networks as a joke at the expense of climate activists, okay it was a joke, but some politicians took the opportunity to use such jokes on their profiles and very wisely and perfidiously turn such jokes into silent, subtle, lynching of climate activists. Of course, it is women who are most affected by these attacks. This should also be seen as a problem, not only for the sake of preserving the planet, but also for the sake of achieving gender equality, advancing democracy, and reducing sexist attacks.




Catherine McKenna, Canada’s environment and climate change minister, recently announced that she’s had to hire security to protect herself and her family while in public. With an election now on, it’s likely she’ll face further abuse in the weeks to come. McKenna hired security after she was out with her children and a driver rolled down his window and shouted: “Fuck you, Climate Barbie.” This sexist taunt was popularised by Conservative MP Gerry Ritz, who once used the slur in reference to McKenna on Twitter. It resulted in a tsunami of #Climatebarbie hashtags and variations of the slur ever since. Ritz has since apologised and deleted the original tweet.


This is not the only case, however, with attacks on women leaders of climate change activists becoming more frequent and widespread. Maxime Bernier, leader of the Peoples’ Party of Canada, recently tweeted at 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, calling her:


“…clearly mentally unstable. Not only autistic, but obsessive-compulsive, eating disorder, depression and lethargy, and she lives in a constant state of fear.”


Other “green” women leaders have spoken out about the sexism they have experienced, including Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Tzeporah Berman from Stand.Earth and Catherine Abreu from the Climate Action Network. Following the proposal of the New Green Deal by U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, critics attacked her intelligence and her personal and professional background. National Review writer Charles Cooke referred to her as an “unmarried, childless bartender” who “somehow has the temerity to fancy herself a congressional representative.” He claimed the New Green Deal she supports is:


“ …an untrammeled Dear Santa letter without form, purpose, borders, or basis in reality.”


When New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke about climate change, an Australian “shock jock” broadcaster said someone should “shove a sock down (her) throat.”


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