The insults hurled by a sitting member of Congress at an expert witness testifying on environmental racism perpetrated by the petrochemical industry typifies the misogyny – often intertwined with racism – leveled at women in the environmental movement, 19th* News reports. The mid-September testimony of Raya Salter, founder of the Energy Justice Law and Policy Center and member of the New York State Climate Action Council, before a House committee on the climate crisis and fossil fuel industry, was overshadowed by Rep. Clay Higgins (R., La.) yelling at her, repeatedly addressing her as “young lady”, and calling her “boo”.
“Climate leadership is pretty rich in leadership from girls. Not just women, but girls, women, nonbinary people, which makes it ripe for bad-faith actors,” Kristina Wilfore, cofounder of #ShePersisted, told The 19th*. Misogynistic attacks against women climate leaders is not a new phenomenon – in the 1960s, Rachel Carson was depicted as a witch in a chemical industry magazine and disparaged as “hysterically overemphatic.”
Tucker Carlson, on whose show Higgins later doubled down, has also attacked Greta Thunberg as an “emotionally damaged child.” “It’s a playbook to come after our competence,” Salter said. “I’ve got all the degrees and everything hanging on a wall and that’s still the playbook. … [But] you have a right to stand your ground and in your competence: lean into your superpower.” (The 19th* News)