Not so clear cut: gender-based violence in BC's tree planting industry




Long, Jennie

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Resource and other outdoor-related industries are frequently described as male-dominated sites of toxic masculinity, resulting in gender-based violence for women and gender-diverse labourers therein. Despite the mounting scale of reforestation work in response to extensive deforestation and escalating climate catastrophe, the tree planting industry is under-regulated, and understudied. Industry leaders admit that prevalent and pervasive sexism is an issue, and recent reporting has surfaced widespread sexual assault and harassment as endemic to the field. A feminist analysis into the gendered power dynamics of tree planting is necessary in order to understand how these harms are being perpetuated, and thus, how they might be remedied. Through semi-structured interviews with industry actors, particularly with women and gender-diverse tree planters who have experienced gender-based violence in planting camps, my research investigates the various, interrelated power dynamics that render tree planters vulnerable to gender-based violence in these remote environments. Through their lived experiences, I explore the following questions: 1) What power systems interact to render women and gender-diverse people vulnerable to gender-based violence in the tree planting industry? 2) How can these power imbalances be addressed so that women and gender-diverse planters can find safety, support and fulfilment in the silviculture industry? The stories shared demonstrate that ongoing patriarchal and profit-driven power dynamics in the industry result in widespread harm for women and gender-diverse labourers. There are persistent harmful cultural attitudes in planting, and persistent structural vulnerabilities which have created space for ongoing gender-based violence to occur without recourse. This thesis also explores various solutions proposed by my research participants, demonstrating how listening to survivors can help shape environments that are freer from gender-based violence.