Canadian Professor Complains About ‘Gendered’ Polar Bear Tourism Industry

Polar Bear Battle-Ready
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A professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada argued in a recently published academic article that the polar bear tourism industry is too “gendered.”

The paper, which is titled “The Gendered Natures of Polar Bear Tourism,” was published in the academic journal Tourism Culture & Communication. The paper was authored by Olga Yudina, Bryan Grimwood, Lisbeth Berbary, and Heather Mair, who all teach at various Canadian universities.

The paper argues that the polar bear tourism industry imposes “hegemonic gender roles onto polar bear bodies.”

This article offers a critique of nature-based Arctic tourism through a gender-aware analysis of representations associated with polar bear tourism in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. The guiding purpose of our study was to analyze how “nature” is gendered in its construction and presentation through tourism, and to what effect. Our study focused on revealing dominant gendered expectations and understandings (re)produced in the Churchill polar bear tourism promotional landscape. Drawing on a critical discourse analysis of qualitative and visual promotional texts, we show how various representations of polar bear tourism impose hegemonic gender roles onto polar bear bodies, which are emplaced within a conventionally gendered landscape.

The paper goes on to argue about the effects of gender impositions on the tourism industry as a whole. The authors suggest that the current state of tourism is inequitable as a result of issues with gendering.

Ultimately, the article advances literature on gender-aware analyses of tourism and environment, and argues the promotion of gendered natures must be consistently questioned to create space for more equitable tourism practices.

The Twitter account New Real Peer Review revealed portions of the paper in a series of tweets. “In particular, polar bear tourism invests in the construction of norms that distinguish powerful, majestic masculine bears from the domestic, motherly feminine bears,” the paper reads.

The paper costs $25 to read and is available online.

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