Taxpayer-Funded Study Examines the Gender Politics of Glaciers

So, I guess "feminist glaciology" is a thing.

Historians at the University of Oregon conducted a “feminist glaciology” study to examine the connection between “feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology.”

What exactly the hell that could possibly mean is not clear. However, it was funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation . . . so the fact that taxpayers paid for it is.

“The feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power, and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions,” the abstract for the paper, titled “Glaciers, gender, and science: A feminist glacier framework for global environmental change research,” states.  

“Glaciers are icons of global climate change, with common representations stripping them of social and cultural contexts to portray ice as simplified climate change yardsticks and thermometers,” it explains.

Damn those “common representations!” How dare we to have continually been studying big ice chunks without thinking of their “social and cultural contexts”?

Reading the paper, I’m not sure if I want to laugh, cry, or punch a wall until my hands bleed. It contains, (in all seriousness!) sentences and phrases like “A critical but overlooked aspect of the human dimensions of glaciers and global change research is the relationship between gender and glaciers” and “power, justice, inequality, and knowledge production in the context of ice, glacier change, and glaciology” and “ glaciological knowledge through the lens of feminist studies.”


#share#The study’s authors also note that ice-chunk gender is “understood here not as a male/female binary, but as a range of personal and social possibilities.”

Thank God, right?! I mean, the fact that it took us so long to study this important issue is bad enough — could you even imagine if they did it in a way that reinforced traditional gender norms, completely leaving out all those transgender and genderqueer ice chunks?

Now, this paper is so ridiculous that you’d think it would be a seen as complete embarrassment to everyone involved. But you’d be wrong. In fact, the University of Oregon was so proud of its work that it even put out a press release bragging about its publication:  

#related#“The long-running reliance on knowledge produced from the perspectives of natural science, the researchers concluded, have marginalized the voices of women and cultures around the world that have lived in the shadow of glaciers,” the release states.

As Reason’s Robby Soave points out, however, if the goal of the paper “was to put a human face on climate change,” it pretty clearly “failed.”

“The paper is simply impossible to read with a straight face,” Soave writes. “It employs liberal buzzwords — colonialism, marginalization, masculinist discourses, etc. — with such frequency that the entire thing comes off like a joke.”

Happy International Women’s Day, everyone! I, for one, am feeling quite at peace knowing that we are focusing on the most important issues facing our gender today.


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