What Is “Petro-Masculinity” and Is It Hurting Your Dating Life?

According to recent OkCupid data, misaligned views on climate change are a deal-breaker for dating app users

Close-up of a man using an online dating app on his mobile phone. Cropped shot of a man hand holding a cell phone using an online dating application.
A little climate concern goes a long way on dating apps these days
Luis Alvarez

There are a lot of things you could be doing wrong on dating apps, and these days, being a climate-change denier is among the worst offenses. According to recent data from online dating platform OkCupid, climate-change denial is the biggest deal-breaker for online daters today. Of 250,000 users surveyed, 90 percent of users said it’s important for potential matches to care about the climate crisis, according to The Hill.

Climate change — and conflicting opinions surrounding it — has become an increasingly important issue in the online dating space in recent years. In 2020, OkCupid released a feature allowing daters to filter out prospective matches who don’t share their views on climate change, and the following year introduced a Climate Change Advocate Badge users could pin to their profile to pledge their allegiance to environmental activism. Meanwhile, other dating apps have noted similar trends, with Tinder’s 2019 data revealing terms like “climate change,” “social justice” and “the environment” were particularly popular among daters on the platform.

OkCupid’s most recent data also highlights a gender discrepancy in climate concerns, revealing worries about climate change and finding similarly minded partners were more common among female daters than their male counterparts. Per OkCupid’s data, women were about seven percent more likely than men to say they were concerned about climate change, and were also seven percent more likely to say it was important that their partner share those concerns.

As Fortune noted, this discrepancy in climate change concerns among dating app users seems to reflect the broader phenomenon of “petro-masculinity,” a term used to refer to an increased tendency among men to reject climate change concerns, and to attach some level of masculine value to that rejection. Think, that guy who insists on driving a big gas-guzzling truck despite not having any need for a vehicle that size and makes fun of men who recycle and drive a Prius. The term was first coined by Cara Daggett in the 2018 paper, Petro-masculinity: Fossil Fuels and Authoritarian Desire, in which she claims that men (specifically those of the white, conservative variety) “appear to be among the most vociferous climate deniers, as well as leading fossil fuel proponents in the West.”

Of course, climate change deniers come in all shapes, sizes and gender identities. Moreover, I don’t know that putting a badge on your dating app profile and refusing to date other people that don’t also have that badge on their profile really makes anyone a climate hero. Having mediocre sex with a person you met on the internet who maybe tries to recycle sometimes probably isn’t going to save us all from impending doom. But I guess now climate change activists are really just looking for a like-minded individual with whom to wait out the climate apocalypse, so at least pretending to care will probably help your odds.

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