Why Middle-aged Men Feel Threatened By 17-year-old Greta Thunberg

“Freakishly influential … with many mental disorders”, “hysteric”, “mentally-ill Swedish child”, “millenarian weirdo”, are just some of the names that 17-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg is being called by the media and various other sources. Interestingly, the people who have been calling her these have all been men, particularly middle-aged men who are obviously threatened by her lack of girlish niceties when addressing world climate leaders.

Throughout history, outspoken women have received a lot of backlash

What is being called “male rage”, Thunberg is not known for her looks or her smile which is one of the reasons why she makes so many people uncomfortable because she goes against everything an average teenage girl aspires to be in a world dominated by social media. ‘Happiness here aligns itself with conformity and an unspoken idea that women and children are expected to be docile and complacent. But in reality, Thunberg is cutting through—rather than displaying—emotionalism.’ Throughout history, women who have been outspoken and opinionated have received a lot of backlash from older men and told that such women must take rest, go one medication for displaying such hysteria. Despite not having any mental disorders, commentator Andrew Bolt wrote, “I have never seen a girl so young and with so many mental disorders treated by so many adults as a guru. She seems chronically attracted to apocalyptic visions, to fear… chronically anxious and disturbed.” Many have even said that Thunberg’s fears for the future of the earth are baseless and unnecessary and due to “feminine mental instability.” 

She is also being targeted for not being “sexy enough” for men

“We’ve got to let kids be kids,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and that climate change should not be something kids need to worry about. Attacking the issue of industrial capitalism, Thunberg is not only targeting the core beliefs of powerful men but also their self-worth and yet she is being targeted for not being “sexy enough” for men. “The extraordinary reactions of certain men to Greta Thunberg, which have nothing to do with her urgent and necessary message on the climate emergency, tells you exactly what happens when a young woman simply refuses to be sexualized. It makes them deeply uncomfortable.” Hence, she does not fulfill their ideal with regards to the male gaze and hence is coming under severe scrutiny for simply believing in something that needs to be addressed. One wonders if she would come under the same criticism if she was a 17-year-old boy who is fighting to save the planet for the future generation. 

Image credit: The Rising

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