Every year around this time, as the temperatures rise and the polar ice caps melt and planetary doom inches closer, our privileged and obviously bored society erupts into a debate about air conditioning. If you are a healthy and sane person who doesn’t spend much time on the internet, you might be surprised to learn that air conditioning is the subject of any sort of debate. It is, after all, an objective good — a clear improvement over the alternative, which includes sweltering temperatures, sweaty bodies, heat exhaustion, and death. Air conditioning joins the ranks of indoor plumbing and electricity as a net-positive modern invention that has made life healthier, better, and more comfortable for billions of people worldwide. You would have to be a world-class whiner to find any reason to complain about something so wondrous and useful as air conditioning.
Women’s suffrage just celebrated its 100th anniversary. That anniversary also marked 100 years since feminism had anything meaningful to say. It has spent the past century fighting for causes increasingly depraved, or stupid, or both. The feminist campaign against air conditioning falls into the “both” category. The New York Times recently published a piece on the evils of air conditioning. The Times seems to agree with Time magazine that air conditioning is a sexist conspiracy. Here’s some of what persecuted feminist Kastalia Medrano over at Time had to say:
Because it is August, this is your reminder that the standard office air-conditioning is indeed sexist. It just is … Women’s body temperature tends to be naturally lower than is men’s, and the standard office temperature — determined in the 1960s by, duh, men — has remained antiquated, even as other areas of the workplace have come around to the idea that men and women deserve things in equal measure …
The New Yorker has joined this crusade, and so has the The Telegraph and The Atlantic. A socialist publication put it in especially dire terms, lamenting that “millions” are “suffering” from “overly air conditioned” rooms. So, when I say there is liberal outrage about air conditioning, I am not inventing an outrage like when the media invented outrage against black mermaids. This is real. Somehow.
This is also real. A writer for The Atlantic, Taylor Lorenz, launched into a barely coherent rant against sexist air conditioning, saying, “Air-conditioning is unhealthy, bad, miserable, and sexist. I can’t explain how many times I’ve gotten sick over the summer b/c of overzealous AC in offices.” When some men responded by helpfully informing her that her opinion is insane, she doubled down: “Like buy a fan. Ur not gonna die lol. I should be able to wear dresses in the summer and not get hypothermia. Weird that making women slightly more comfortable and productive at work causes so many men to have a mental breakdown.”
Let’s look past the irony of someone sneering that “ur not gonna die lol” and then in literally the very next sentence claiming that they might get hypothermia if the thermostat dips below 74. Hysterics and hypocrisy aside, it is clear that many women feel terribly victimized by air conditioning in the summer. Women typically like things a bit warmer, but buildings typically tend to be a bit cooler in the summer. Therefore, women are oppressed. That is the equation, which follows the format of every feminist equation: Women don’t like X, yet X sometimes happen, therefore oppression.
It is for the suffering millions that I offer the following tips. If you are feeling chilly at work, but your patriarchal boss refuses to set the temperature exactly to your individual specifications, here are some steps you might consider taking:
(1) Wear a sweater.
Ms. Lorenz over at The Atlantic seems confused, so I will try to mansplain slowly. You see, there are these things called sweaters. They look like shirts, except you wear them over your existing shirt. This extra layer provides you with additional warmth. You might object that it’s too hot outside for sweaters. That is why I suggest this revolutionary strategy: Put the sweater on when you get inside, then take it off before you go outside. If you can afford the additional 2.5 seconds it requires to put on or take off the extra article of clothing, I think you will find that your problems are entirely solved.
Unfortunately, people who are too warm do not have such a simple Plan B — especially men in an office, who often are required to wear pants and long-sleeve shirts (if not a jacket and tie, as well) all year round. If they take off too many layers, they will be in violation of company policy. If they continue taking off layers, they will be in violation of state law. You, however, as the chilly woman, can put on as many layers as you desire. Throw on a parka if you want. If anyone complains, you can always sue them for harassment and earn $50 million, which you can then invest in more parkas.
(2) Dress appropriately.
Some women find they are cold inside during the summer because they prefer to dress at all times like they’re going to the beach. This is fine if you are in fact going to the beach, but if you’re going to work, perhaps it might be wise to adjust your wardrobe accordingly. Men do not have the option to wear flip-flops and board shorts to the office. Women can and sometimes do wear the female equivalent, which apparently leads to hypothermia. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If 68 degrees feels frigid, you probably aren’t wearing enough clothes.
(3) Thank God that you live in such comfort and luxury that you have the time and energy to complain about something like this.
There are men working on highway crews in Arizona right now who would love to be “too cold.” Instead, they are melting into a puddle under a blazing sun, with the asphalt cooking the soles of their sweat-drenched boots. There are men tarring roofs in Texas. There are men working construction in Georgia. All of these people have temperature-related complaints far more compelling than your own, yet they make no complaint at all. This fact should bring you great shame.
Indeed, there are billions of people in the world currently who suffer — really suffer — in tropical conditions without the benefit of air conditioning. This is not an aesthetic choice, on their part. They’d love it if they could have it, but they can’t. You can. You are blessed to live in the most technologically advanced civilization in history, with luxuries that your ancestors made possible without ever enjoying themselves, where all of the hard labor is done by people who aren’t you, and most of the true suffering is also done by people who aren’t you, and the only thing you have left to complain about is the damn thermostat. If I were you, I’d throw on a sweater and thank God for my good fortune.