Last week, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) re-introduced a Congressional resolution to recognize the disproportionate impact climate change has on women. The resolution focuses on building gender into a framework for combating climate-related issues.
Why? Women in developing countries are often the hardest hit by climate change impacts. Women are usually responsible for providing food and water for their families, and when those resources disappear, they are left with very few options. But they are also agents of change that can help families and communities become more resilient, if given the necessary tools. This resolution should be noncontroversial and a common-sense addition to plans to address climate change.
But of course, conservative media outlets like the Daily Caller and Breitbart have wasted no time in turning the very serious issues women are facing into a sexist joke, focusing mainly on ridiculing women who might turn to prostitution when they’re left with no other options to support their families. The Daily Caller jokes, “Global warming will turn women into prostitutes for food.” Yeah, women having to turn to sex work in order to feed their families, LOL!
These media outlets are zeroing in on one line of the bill:
“Food insecure women with limited socioeconomic resources may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex, and early marriage that put them at risk for HIV, STIs, unplanned pregnancy and poor reproductive health.”
The increased risk of poor reproductive health is just one potential danger, and the bizarre focus on sex from these media outlets ignores all the other very real challenges faced by women around the world as a result of our changing climate. In the areas where climate change can already be felt, women are the ones dealing with the consequences. Unpredictable weather patterns can cause crops to fail, leaving women to seek new ways to feed their families. And as natural resources such as water and firewood become more scarce, women and girls are forced to walk farther and farther to access them, putting them at a greater risk of violence.
None of this is funny. When will conservative media start taking climate change seriously?