I have a cold: a nasty, chesty, hard-to-breathe summer cold. But also, allergies probably are doing their part to make my lungs feel awful. And when I posted on Facebook about my cold (horribly exciting stuff, that), a friend said that there's something about planting only male trees that makes allergies horrible.
Then she continued, and explained that she saw a thing on TikTok about how urban planners have exclusively planted MALE trees, because they don't have as much "mess" as female trees. Female trees produce seeds, and fruit. They create messy sidewalks when flowers and fruit laden with seeds drop. Male trees do not fruit, because fruiting is women's work.
But male trees spray pollen everywhere, in huge clouds, basically coating the world in tree sperm. And this is why allergies have been worse in the past 15 years or so -- this proliferation of male trees because they're SO MUCH BETTER than female trees.
Can you believe that? Major sexism and misogyny, in tree landscaping form. There's so much on how women are messy, all the periods and mucus and pregnancy and hormones.
But, uh, men are messy too with their protruding organs and their semen and their own hormones, which don't seem to get as much negative play as women's.
I love the Lume body deodorant commercials, but especially a recent one that points out that most crotch stink comes from the butt. And women are constantly being barraged with products to smell "fresher" and are shamed into thinking that vaginas are stinky and repulsive in their smell. But the Lume lady says something like, "MEN have butts too, and you don't see them having these products shoved down their throats!" Lume addresses crotch stink in everyone with a butt, and doesn't blame vaginas for being messy, or smelly. It's refreshing.
IT'S THE SAME BLAME WITH TREES. I found an article in Atlas Obscura, "Botanical Sexism Could Be Behind Your Seasonal Allergies," which validated what my friend saw on TikTok. It is a great read, and explains in gory detail what's happening to cause these "pollenpacolypse" allergy seasons.
It also explained, maddeningly, that if the landscapers had planted ONLY female trees, you would have no mess, no fruiting (because there's no males to interact with and get all messy with), AND NO POLLEN.
But no one looked down that option, did they? They just went with male is better and what's a little tree sperm here and there?
It reminds me of the lack of research on women's health, like impacts of endometriosis, adenomyosis, PCOS, and birth control/pain management in general.
A friend of mine recently had an IUD put in and then subsequently removed. She had it to help control her insanely heavy and frequent periods, but two things happened -- first, it took FORTY-FIVE MINUTES to install the thing because the doctor had difficulty with my friend's cervix and accused her of not taking the cervix-thinner the night before (she had). If that seems like a crazy long, even inhumane time for someone to be pushing something INTO your cervix, you are correct. Especially if all she had in her system was Advil. It was traumatic. They should have stopped. But, they got it in and left my friend to her trauma. Except it started giving her migraines with aura, multiple over the course of two weeks, and so she had it taken out. The doctor, instead of being empathetic or even mildly understanding, was highly defensive and unhelpful. She actually said, "you should really give it a couple more months, but I guess we'll remove it if that's what you want." My friend won't be going back.
My point is, if a man had to have an IUD like thing put in, IT WOULD NOT EXIST AS AN OPTION. Why is the question asked of women to put up with more pain, to "push through it" rather than have options that actually work? And how about pain management for these procedures? There need to be better options. There need to be better treatments. There should be something between an IUD and hysterectomy (although I am a big fan of that option, since feeling the absolute freedom of no uterus post-fertility-trauma, but clearly that's a drastic solution). An IUD shouldn't feel like an assault. The other option (ablation, or burning the lining away and basically mutilating the organ instead of removing it) just sounds barbaric, and has no guarantee of working either. I know from my endomyometrial resection failure that it can be even more painful when it doesn't work). There needs to be more understanding of the intricate, messy, and sometimes painful realities of being female.
So when the tree thing came up, I couldn't NOT share it with you. Even ALLERGIES are made worse by the patriarchy. Messy indeed.