Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., took aim at Fox News host Tucker Carlson after he railed against the political polarization in the country when it comes to climate change and lamented the growing number of women pursuing careers in science.
This article first appeared in Salon.
"How did we end up with a country in which feminists do science?" Carlson asked Thursday night on his primetime show.
The Fox News host, who is in the midst of an advertiser boycott after the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America unearthed old recordings of him making racist and sexist remarks, asked the question after he brought up a research paper published by the Journal of Consumer Research in 2016 which allegedly blames "toxic masculinity" for global warming.
The paper, which explored if "men are less likely to embrace environmentally friendly products and behaviors," argues stereotypes linking "green behavior" to femininity may be a factor in this discrepancy.
But Carlson appeared to have understood the research to conclude that men "assert their masculinity by deliberately destroying the environment."
"If we want to save the environment, we have to suppress men," Carlson said, appearing to mock the findings.
The Fox News host then turned not to a climate change scientist or clean energy expert to break down the study's conclusions but to conservative commentator and frequent guest Mark Steyn, who Carlson joked may be "adding to the carbon footprint just by his masculinity."
Steyn quipped that his insecurities about his masculinity are "causing rising sea levels in the Maldives," revealing he was "kind of on board" with the study's thesis.
"How did we wind up with a country in which feminists do science?" Carlson asked. "I mean, isn't that— we're sort of bound to get a study like this, right?"
Steyn continued to cast doubt on the study, noting, "I think in fact it's very difficult to tell with social science — as with climate science — whether or not it's an ingenious parody. It’s almost impossible to tell in fact."
The conservative author then explained to Carlson that Walmart gift cards were part of the study.
"This is the kind of hardcore science behind it, which they gave someone a Walmart gift card, and it was pink and had lots of flowery patterns on it," Steyn said. "So the guy given this gift card went out and bought a lot of very macho masculine things to melt the polar ice caps. Whereas, if you give him something — he's so impressionable, this toxic masculine male — that if you give him a masculine-type card, he just thinks, 'Oh, that's really nice.' And he goes out, and he buys the Sierra Club tote bag and saves the planet."
Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive firebrand who emerged as the latest political punching bag for the right soon after she was sworn into the House of Representatives in January, took aim at Carlson's incendiary remark in a tweet.
"Democracy and civil rights is how we got a country where 'feminists do science,'" the freshman congresswoman tweeted Thursday night. "Also, note how he's drumming up fear around women's rights to create suspicion around climate change policy. Tells you a lot."
Democracy and civil rights is how we got a country where “feminists do science.” (Also, note how he’s drumming up… https://t.co/FkeGolU4vP— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) 1554427385.0
Carlson's segment from Thursday night is on par for the Fox News host, who previously called "feminism" the new "F-word," claimed there is more drug and alcohol abuse in areas where women outearn their male counterparts and stated feminists want men to suffer — a patently untrue distortion that appears designed to whip up his base.
Though it has been 100 years since women were granted the right to vote — and significant progress has since been made — gender inequality persists in the modern world, despite Carlson's assertions. Working women still earn less than men for the same job. In 2018, the World Economic Forum said "the world still has a long way to go" when it comes to equal political and economic leadership, since the group started following the issue in 2006. The organization noted the global gender gap will take exactly 108 years to rectify, compared to 100 years in 2017, at the current rate of progress.
Still, modern-day feminism is not just about equal pay. It is about inclusion and fighting to equal rights for all American citizens. It is about dismantling society's gendered ideas about parenthood and mental health. It is about ending rape culture and adopting a sex-positive attitude. Ultimately, feminism is not about gender at all, as the movement seeks to demolish harmful gender stereotypes completely — an egalitarian goal that benefits everyone.