Ecofeminism: Why We Need It
By Marian Avila-Breach
What is ecofeminism?
Throughout the history of feminism, feminist theory has always been shaped by women’s lives around the world. Feminism and all theories that purport equality, look at the world and its governments and institutions and attempt to look further and look at how the world should be. Recently, with the women’s march in March and the scourge of sexual harassers in media and politics, the fight for women’s rights has risen another notch. Women are demanding an equal world. However, as women’s rights achieve progress, new legislation in the US breaks down environmental protection laws and deregulates environmentally harmful practices. What use are equal rights if there is no longer a healthy Earth in which to practice them? French feminist Françoise d’Eaubonne coined the term Ecofeminism in the 1970’s as a way to bring attention to the ways women and feminist theory could bring about an ecological revolution. Like feminist theory itself, ecofeminism is comprised of a rich diversity of sub-theories, many linked to other philosophies of government or economy. A broad definition of ecofeminism, however, would be the overarching idea of there being diverse interconnections between women, the fight for women’s rights, and environmental protection.
Why should women care about Ecofeminism?
In the United Nations (UN) Environment page, the subsection on gender specifies that ecological devastation, pollution, and climate change are human-made disasters that disproportionately affect women. The majority of this world’s poor are women, who because of their overwhelming lack of rights and access to power, are not only affected by climate change disasters and pollution but are also unable to adequately address the issues. In women’s overall position as second-class citizens with limited rights, women result as among the most vulnerable to the aforementioned problems. In subsistence economies, women rely on the raw materials of their environments such as firewood and water to feed their families and maintain their homes. As deforestation expands and water pollution continues to be unaddressed in disadvantaged societies, women suffer the consequences. Women becoming more disadvantaged and more vulnerable hurt women everywhere as these vulnerable women become victims of exploitation. Ecofeminism recognizes that protecting the environment is closely linked to protecting and empowering women. By ensuring that women have access to their means of subsistence, women are less likely to fall victim to exploitation and extreme poverty.
Why should men care about ecofeminism?
Although ecofeminism focuses on women’s role in the environment, men stand to benefit from ecofeminist results. In a world where men dominate the majority of political parties, academic institutions, media, and corporate settings, the responsibility for the fight against climate change and the protection of the environment falls largely to men. However, as Rachel Kyte CEO of SEforALL (Sustainable Energy for All) explained, “There is no way that we can solve this problem if we only do it with 50% of the talent and energy on this planet.” By fighting the fight alone men are engaging in a losing battle. In addition, ecological devastation and climate change will affect all living beings on this planet, regardless of gender. Protecting the environment should not be a gendered issue, but men supporting women’s rights ensures that the fight against climate change isn’t gendered either. With everyone able to take action against environmental crises, we may yet leave a better future for all people.
Women are uniquely positioned to fight climate change
Beyond calling for the advancement of women’s rights as a way to fight global warming and environmental degradation, ecofeminism understands that bringing women to the fight helps further ecological goals in a way a “men-only” approach would not. Since we live in a gendered world, the majority of men and women engage in gendered occupations. Although the duties differ from society to society, women are still overwhelmingly the primary caretakers and homemakers. Usually these occupations will include gathering basic natural resources for the home, supplying food and water, and doing household chores such as bathing children and washing clothing. Although these skills are often undervalued in many societies, they are skills that tie into a vast amount of knowledge of their surroundings. In a small village in India, researchers asked the local men to describe the uses of a local tree; the men provided on average 12 different uses. Later, the researchers went into homes and asked women; women on average recited 32. Because of their unique position, women become well-versed in the importance of their ecosystem and are more likely to perceive disastrous effects resulting from the decimation of ecosystems. Through their knowledge, women can help preserve environments around the world. Conversely, disadvantaged women have also been known to further the pollution of their environment. In the mountainous region of northern Mexico, women pour noxious chemicals into their local river when washing clothes. By not knowing better, the women are contributing to the pollution of their only source of water. Ecofeminism focuses on educating and empowering the women discussed so as to ensure that they can protect their environments and become active participants in ensuring the planet’s health.
Both environmentalists and feminists are often vilified and attacked by traditional opinion outlets and groups of people that do not want to see the global status quo change. However, the world is changing regardless of who wants it or not. Climate change is a current phenomena that is already affecting diverse global societies and will keep affecting them in the future. Separately, feminist and ecological movements address and garner support for issues that can positively impact humanity as a whole. Nonetheless, the cross section of both issues, ecofeminism, stands to accomplish more on both fronts if these marginalized fights join forces. We all live on the same planet and all of our lives and decisions are interconnected through our bionetwork. Sustaining a clean environment and ensuring women’s rights and equal opportunity become one and the same in Ecofeminism. Possibly the most significant aspect of ecofeminist theory is what it represents, the joining to two powerfully human and important issues and exposing the reality that humans are not objective causal observers on Earth but rather deeply involved participants. We, women and men alike, need to fight for women’s rights to help save our home, because it’s truly the only one we’ve got.
Feminist Environmental Philosophy
First published Fri Aug 29, 2014; substantive revision Mon Apr 27, 2015
Posted on December 14, 2017, in feminism and tagged ecofeminism. Bookmark the permalink. 58 Comments.
My mother was raised in the 1970s by two very liberal parents, and so she raised her children to be avid feminists and environmentalists. As someone who’s passionate about both of these topics I’m shocked that I did not know about the eco-feminist movement. I wish the media today would focus more on these positive things people are striving for, and fighting for rather than repeating the same depressing news over and over. It seems to be an ever constant fight to keep oneself informed with the mass access to information that we have nowadays; and wonderful figures like Françoise d’Eaubonne are not put at the forefront. I’m now really inspired to look into her work, and those who were inspired by her as this movement fits right into my personal beliefs.
We have had several sub kinds of feminism – social feminism, egalitarian feminism, feminist existentialism, and many more. These variations emerged as their proponents sought to address womens’ conditions in the context of their times. In present times, the environment, climate, and natural resources are ongoing concerns. We see the pursuit of political, economic, and social power and control, prioritized over environmental issues such as sustainable growth and conservation of natural resources such as forests and rivers. Through ecofeminism, women intend to bring in the feminist movement’s moral and political capital to the problem. The role of women – as caretakers of the family, as child-rearers responsible for the family’s health and well-being – requires their participation in environmental issues more than men. In developing and poor countries, adverse conditions with air, water, food, sanitation, falling water table, and pollution affect women and children at home much more than men who are out at work. Womens’ voices ought to have a larger weight since they face these problems first-hand. Ecofeminism is yet to make a notable mark in the conservation movement, but as it brings in more women, feminist or not, to the cause as primary stakeholders, it will surely strengthen the movement.
I think it is so important and empowering to see the intersectionality between climate and feminist activism. In the same way that you can’t be truly feminist if only vouching for the rights and equality of white women, I see that you can’t be truly feminist unless you also care for the environment and vice versa.
This post really has me thinking about cross applying the theories of “white feminism” between a micro- and macro- scale. I think that living in the United States, I’m privileged to fight for a type of feminism that takes the form of wage gaps and other seemingly “smaller”/”first-world” issues (not at all do I mean to undermine those issues). However, then, at a macro- level the negative effects of gender disparities are so much greater. As Americans, only looking at feminism and fighting for how it affects us and not the rest of the world as well – is the same as white feminists looking at how gender inequalities affect only other white women.
Both the fight for gender equality and climate justice have been muddled as progressive and part of some youthful, lefist “agenda” (as if progressivism, the youth, and the left are all evils of the world, too). Both are twisted to be “political” issues, when they’re really HUMAN RIGHTS issues. Therefore, if both fronts unite, more “meaning” and empathy could be brought to the feminist movement by climate activists and vice versa.
A very interesting topic – the concept of ecofeminism relating environment preservation with gender inequality where the dominance and power of men in such decisions over women resulting into decisions relating to lack of environment preservation and environment degradation. It tried to correlate the exploitation of environment with oppression and lack of empowerment of women.
Intersectionality plays a key role when it comes to Ecofeminism concept, since this impacts women of different race, social background and status, educational background, religion, upbringing – all of them in a different way. For a woman in a third world under-developing country, where they getting even basic sanitation needs are a stretch on a daily basis including in many cases for them to get fire wood and their dependency on other natural elements, expecting them to be utmost preserving of nature to be honest is not fair as compared to most women in developed countries living in their comfortable homes while not having to think of basic amenities of life.
On the outset, some of the concepts smells very similar to liberal feminism striving for gender equality in all decision making and so in that context environmental preservation probably would be construed as one of them. While I believe the concept of ecofeminism is trying to break the void to create an equal level playing field for everyone – man and woman included, I believe helping promote liberal feminism in all areas will/should automatically help with ecofeminism directly. Basically, we need to ensure both genders are unequivocally involved in all decision makings as well as related spheres of influence to help solve this problem.
This is a good time to revisit this blog article and mention Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ “Green New Deal”. Many many people, yes even people on the left are saying they utterly reject this document because it is steeped in the trappings of feminism, identitarianism, and intersectionality that not everybody is into. So instead of being able to dispassionately discuss the environmental pros and cons of a proposal, it’s immediately dead in the water because the authors are living in a far left intersectional bubble that normal people don’t agree with.
Why does intersectional bother you?
Because intersectionality is racism. E.g Asians need a higher SAT to get into college than whites. Harvard is setting up segregated spaces. Intersectionality is White saviour White supremacy.
Let me try to explain intersectionality.
A black woman might be sexually harassed because she is a woman and she may find it difficult to rent a home in a particular neighborhood because she is black, and she might face gay bashing because she is lesbian. So all three identities are intersecting in harmful ways in her experience.
And her experience as a black woman wouldn’t be like the way a white woman experiences the woman part of herself + the black way that a black man experiences himself. She has a unique intersection.
Intersectionalists are all racists. Want proof? Look at what is coming out of the intersectional left:
“I’m a Muslim Woman of Color – And Here’s Why I Don’t Date White Men”
I’m Tired of Watching Brown Men Fall in Love With White Women Onscreen
I Broke Up With Her Because She’s White
“I couldn’t be the girlfriend of someone who had an Asian fetish because that would make me complicit in a pattern that was rooted in violence and colonization.”
“Democratic candidates used fewer competence-related words in speeches delivered to mostly minority audiences than they did in speeches delivered to mostly white audiences. ”
“Harvard has engaged in, and continues to engage in, intentional discrimination against Asian-Americans,”
“IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL HOLDS SEGREGATED GRADUATION CEREMONIES FOR BLACK, LATINO AND GAY STUDENTS”
The intersectional / identitarian left is one continual flood of racism. It has never stopped that the Democrats / left have been engaging in this racist agenda. ““It was really surprising to see that for nearly three decades, Democratic presidential candidates have been engaging in this predicted behavior.”
What you talk about, you become. Intersectionals talk day and night about race, so it’s no wonder they are racists.
Those are not examples of intersectionalism. The definition of intersectionalism is that people are affected by prejudice and discrimination in different ways depending on their particular ethnic mix.
Everyone has a unique intersection. Poorly educated buggy whip salesmen have it tough, but nobody cares about them if their sexual proclivities are not sufficiently deviant. I don’t see why the existence of differences between people justifies the rampant racism, sexism , persecution.
The intersections all involve ways that people are relatively disempowered in the culture. looking at the example you gave people who are concerned with intersectionlity care about the class issue.
And people who care about intersectionlity are against racism, sexism and persecution.
This post was a refreshing plea to encourage the joining of forces between two large scale movements. These two movements include the eco-movement, which attempts to rescue our planet from degradation, as well as the feminist movement which aims to gain equal rights, opportunities and representation for women around the globe. This is a goal that all feminists, whether they be radicalized or liberal, should strive to accomplish. As mentioned throughout the post, this is the only home we have. In order to ensure that we prevent the deterioration of our planet, women must join together in order to provide their knowledge and expertise in all things ecological. One of the most compelling sections of the post occurred midway. This was the section titled, ‘Why Should Women Care About Ecofeminism?’ which explains why women should be concerned with the growing environmental crisis. It had not occurred to me that women are the individuals most at risk because of the poor conditions of resources. All around the world are women who find themselves in less than fortunate positions. They have to use their resources and their knowledge in order to survive in many cases. Due to the fact that most of the worlds’ impoverished are women, they would be the first ones to be affected by the worsening conditions of the environment. If we wish to avoid putting our fellow feminists through this exploitation, then we must take action immediately. The section which discussed why all genders—men and women alike— was also of great interest. If we wish to provide accurate knowledge in the fight to reverse the effects climate change, the minds of both men and women should be involved in every step of the process. Women are disproportionately represented throughout government agencies, perhaps this could be the first step to rectify if we wish to make a difference.
This is the first time I have heard about ecofeminism but I believe it is something that everyone should support. It is no surprise to hear that the way humans live is affecting our climate and home in drastic ways. There are still some who believe that climate change is not real but I have an extremely hard time understanding those people. I strongly believe that everyone needs to put their differences aside and come together to find solutions to save our planet. The temperature of the earth is on the rise and if it rises a few degrees more it will increase the chances of extreme weather changes and disasters. There would be no point in fighting for rights and power if in a few years there will be nothing worth fighting for. The world gave us life and we need to all realize that we all need to participate in reducing our effect on the climate and learning to live waste free and stop using harmful chemicals.
Ecofeminism: Why We Need It? Not only does feminism have a role to play in sustainability and vis versa, but it is impossible to draw a clean line dividing the two ideologies. The source of the scorn that much of the general public feels for the environmentalist and feminist movements comes from a misunderstanding regarding the definitions of these terms. While outlets like fox news do their best to convince their viewers that feminists want to place women above men, and environmentalists want to put the needs of polar bears before the poor, the actual goals and definitions of these movements is much more nuanced. Merriam Webster defines feminism in two parts. “1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes 2 : organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests” (Merriam Webster). The definition of sustainability is similarly more inclusive then it is made out to be. A system or culture is sustainable when it can continue to function indefinitely into the future in terms of society, economy, and environment (Reich). This means that neither of these movements can exist without the other, for social sustainability is impossible without equality between the sexes. Both of these movements concern themselves with the well being of all human beings. Just as feminism is beneficial for men, so to is environmentalism beneficial to human societies and economies. These definitions suggest that the real reason wealthy men like Roger Ailes are trying to frame feminism and the sustainable movement as exclusive, is to stop the working and middle classes from uniting and demanding equal opportunity and basic human dignity.
Reich, Jonathan. Syllabus for Environmental Design 406. Accessed 31 August, 2018
Feminism. Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feminism.
I personally agree with this blog post. While this is my first time hearing of ecofeminism I have always simply identified as a feminist and also eco friendly. This blog brought the importance of combining them. Many women across the world were given the position of caretaker, this has built their understanding and passing down of this knowledge to other women. This is also needed to educate women to better their environment. Label it ecofeminism because the world is 50% women, and as the blog points out you cant have half the population against you. However, I do believe it does not need to be labeled as a feminist idea when making an eco friendly lifestyle gender neutral and all beneficial rather than just focusing on the women. While it does directly effect women more, it in turn effect men as well. While feminist issues should remain as topical as they are, I believe being eco friendly should remain in its gender neutral state.
This blog points out a few key interesting ideas about ecofeminism. This was the first time ever heard about the concept of ecofeminism. However, the idea makes sense. Recently I have been trying to reduce my plastic use and it has been extremely difficult. Understanding the way plastic impact the environment is key in getting rid of it. I found that it’s expensive to go plastic free, which to be honest doesn’t make sense, and that it can be difficult to find plastic free items. This blog post is talking about the importance of creating equality for everything, including the environment. Equality in all sense it what can make the world a better place to live. Without the environment, equality between humans wouldn’t change the fact that the environment is continuing to deteriorate and decrease the survivability of humans and everything that lives on earth. I encourage people to go plastic free to make the world a better place.
Feminism has shaped the lives of women. Because of feminism, women are heard everyday and are still wanting to be heard. Women just want to have equal rights but without a healthy economy can women still get equal rights? Women shouldn’t just be second class citizen with lesser rights than men. Women can speak for themselves, they are their own person with own opinions. In economies, women are the most vulnerable because of being unequal. But then there is ecofeminism, not only does it protect the environment but it also protects and empowers women that allows them to be less vulnerable. Men should also be aware and supportive towards ecofeminism because men are powerful in economy and political views. Rachel Kyte states, “There is no way that we can solve this program if we only do it with 50% of the talent and energy on this planet.” Not only should women and men both be involved but everyone working together to sustain a better environment for all.
Although I’ve never heard of Ecofeminism before, I love the idea of it. Most people do not think of the connection between the fight to stop climate change and feminism. In fact, I had only heard about this when I found out one of the requirements for a Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at my school, CSULB, was to take an Environmental Justice class. After reading this article, I can definitely see why environmental justice plays a key role in gender equality. I couldn’t agree more that it’s not enough to have just half of the world fighting to stop climate change. I think what is special about this topic is that since it so urgent and time-sensitive, we do not have the time to exclude women from this field as it has been done in so many other fields like STEM. Employers can’t afford to turn down women or pay them less to do jobs in the environmental protection field or fields of study because they know that we need all the help we can get. I believe this is a way for the world to see that by breaking down stereotypes of what women are “supposed” to do, men and women can accomplish even better things together.
It seems very odd to me to associate environmentalism with feminism. After all, environmental destruction is directly or indirectly caused by consumers buying stuff. And since 90% of spending is controlled by women, we could infer that 90% of environmental damage is caused by women. I suppose you argue that since you guys created the problem, you should solve it, so there is that.
Feminism is not the same thing as women. Just like patriarchy isn’t the same thing as men.
Feminism involves a way of seeing that recognizes the worth and dignity of every person, and the earth. As opposed to a domination mentality. People who feel like humans should dominate earth don’t treat it well.
I have taken it upon my own ability to educate myself on environmental issues. Its always been important to me to do what I can to conserve the environment as well as restore the damage that humans have created. This same issue is present in women issues. They are matters of discussion that is not taken seriously by society, they’re touchy subjects to people who have realized how sensitive both matters are not taken lightly and are seen as insignificant. Its interesting seeing how these two important topics (feminism and the ecosystem) are brought up in conversation as marginalized. If our world was educated on the history of the woman and the effects humans have on the environment as well as how often we turn the blind eye to the discrimination of woman then maybe there would be a significant change on both themes.
I’ve never thought about how feminist and climate change movements would be so intertwined. Probably because I, myself, don’t know very much about the environment. At least not in the way that the Indian women in the article know about the 32 uses of trees. The statistics in the article are very enlightening, and I wish it was a topic more talked about in the climate change movement. It seems like both men and women are equally educated and involved in environmentalism in the United States. However, on a global level, it appears this is not the case. I think that in developing countries, both men and women are ignorant to climate change. Most developing countries don’t have the funds or the infrastructure to practice safe environmental practices because it is generally more expensive. In these communities, I think that it would be very important to educate both men and women about good environmental practices. As the example from the article proves, both men and women have knowledge that can be crucial in the environmental movement. Women in oppressed societies need gender equality so that their input can be heard.
I believe that the Feminist Movement, especially in its current iteration, can do a substantial amount of good for other movements that intersect with it. Intersectionality is frequently discussed when looking that the relationship between gender and race, or gender and socioeconomic status, or gender and sexuality. But I believe that ecofeminism is a completely new terrain that we have yet to fully explore, and I am happy that this post has brought attention to the movement. Assessing the power imbalances that exist throughout the world and leave many women in abject poverty, typically in places that have been substantially impacted by lackluster or non-existence environment protections, pollution, and climate change. I also appreciate that the call to action ecofeminism encourages is not one the focuses on demonizing men, but instead calls of men and women to actively pursue solutions to this ongoing issue, even if the only progress that can be made must be within gendered spaces and occupations. The underlying message of true feminism is that there is a desire for political, social, economic and educational equality among all genders–not the damaging assumption that all men are awful (which, I argue, does not in any way represent the true sentiments of the Feminist Movement). This article calls for collaboration, teamwork, and platform-building between environmentalists and feminists alike. I find that to be an overwhelmingly positive message, and one that will make the tasks of addressing environmental issues much easier in the coming decades. After all, this isn’t “us (women)” against “them (men)”. Climate change is an issue that impacts all of humanity.
I had never heard of the term ecofeminism until reading this post, and I am very happy to say that I feel like I have found a movement and name behind it which really speaks to me. I would be proud to call myself an ecofeminist. Reading this post, I was not surprised to see that feminists and environmentalists have been “vilified,” because people are not open to change, whether it’s happening or not. When I was younger and first started to use social media, I was exposed to the term “feminist” and was led to (falsely) believe through negative images and perceptions that they were all hairy, men hating “feminazis.” And I was also led to believe that anyone who voiced their opinion and cared for the environment were tree-hugging hippies, and that the world would be fine because it always had been – climate change wasn’t as real of a threat as I know it to be now. After educating myself as I got older, I see that neither of these things are bad to be, and that having feminist views and an environmental conscience go together is a very powerful movement.
I found it really interesting to read that the women in the Indian village had a greater depth and understanding of their environment and what it could offer them, compared to the men in the village. It was also interesting to red that underprivileged women are unknowingly making their sources of water toxic, so educating them is an important step forward in this movement.
I honestly never heard of the term ecofeminism till I read this article. I have heard of feminism since childhood however I have not heard about the term itself, ecofeminism. The article says, ” A broad definition of ecofeminism, however, would be the overarching idea of there being diverse interconnections between women, the fight for women’s rights, and environmental protection.” The definition alone has been not only been more highlighted lately it has also been one that needs more discussions, awareness, statistics, education on this matter as well as new policies, that help rebuild a kinder, more compassionate world. It is a real issue in so many areas and places for sure. Moving forward, education on what is truly valued and appreciated is one where there is validation, empathy, positivity, compassion, and not so harsh. Earth would be a much pleasant place. My favorite quote is ” I am not my hair, I am not my skin I am the soul the soul within.”
This blog on Ecofeminism was a great read and brings to light why we as women need to actively participate in protecting our environment, helping in the preservation our ever-changing ecological systems around the world.
Women are not second-class citizens and protecting our environment is something every single person should be doing every day. Women should be heard, that is why this verse in the write up stands out for me and bravo to the CEO, Rachel SEforALL (Sustainable Energy for All) for stating “There is no way that we can solve this problem if we only do it with 50% of the talent and energy on this planet.” I also believe that if everyone were to take action, not men, not women, but everyone together we could further fight towards good in our ecological goals against environmental degradation and global warming. Stronger together – this is indeed a fact and as the blog reads we all live on the same planet. We all need to work together to sustain a cleaner environment not only for now, but for all future generation.
I agree! My response may be more abstract in a way, but the suppression of the feminine has gone on for much too long, as we all know. More women are stepping into their power and breaking out of the norm and social conditioning and are taking on roles that men have traditionally played. Ecofeminism doesn’t just apply to women in my opinion. Men have suppressed their own dualistic nature of masculine and feminine for ages (culture depending), and are feeling more supported and safe to express their whole selves and not just their masculinity. The caring, mothering, nurturing aspects of the feminine are the key qualities needed to take on natural crises. Not only the gentle qualities but also the strong ones women possess. Like a fierce mother protecting her child. The feminine is a beautiful blend of powerful, resilient, endurance, compassion and love. Embracing these qualities, whether man or woman, will surely prove to be an essential role in ecofeminism.
“The feminine is a beautiful blend of powerful, resilient, endurance, compassion and love.”
Just so we can have the full picture of your philosophical position, define the masculine for me.
“Ecofeminism” was something that I have never encountered before. After being exposed to it, it does make sense and has a huge potential impact on our current geological habitat.
The article above gave me so much to digest and again proves the importance of feminism and it can do good to our society. In addition, to the scientific research that was done in Indian village, which could be possibly done in any other third world country villages shows the obvious usefulness of trivial day to day things that women do. They do not realize that they own the knowledge which may impact this disastrous situation on mother Earth. According to the information in article, it does have two perspectives first one- where men still believe that feminism is not linked to natural disasters and won’t help to solve climate change issues and there is an advanced minority, who are trying to explain the logic of being united and fight the natural crisis but they aren’t heard yet.
One thing that I really liked about this blog is that it doesn’t just include one perspective. I enjoyed having a section of the blog dedicated to the things both men and women need to do, in addition to the significance each person can play in this progressive movement to make the world a better place. I think it’s extremely important to state that the effort to make the world a better place isn’t a battle we can win with only 50% of us working towards it. From the beginning everyone should be cooperating to make the world a better place. Nothing can ever be done well when only putting in half of one’s effort into it. This movement of creating a better, healthier planet is something that men and women must come together to create. I feel that just by acknowledging this point we as a society can make some significant progress. It is ridiculous that we still have such a power discrepancy between men and women, and if we want to keep progressing as a society we need to be able to trust each other and be capable of working side by side. One of the best ways to do this is to take the time to make equal opportunity possible.
This is such a great concept. There are many problems we face in this world and it’s great to see people combining forces to correct women’s rights issues along with bettering of the environment. I am currently in a women’s studies class and we have read a bit about ecofeminism and it really stuck out to me. I believe there is a huge disregard for the environment and it was insane to me how much correlation there seems to be between how/why women have been treated poorly and how/why the environment has been treated poorly. Both the treatment of our planet and the treatment of women need to improve. The book speaks on developing a unified vision of social change and that while there may be a bit of disagreement between ecofeminists, they all stand to agree that we need to learn to respect women AND nature. Moving forward we need to work with women and with nature, not work to control them.
I think that the most important concepts underlying modern ecofeminism are that – as the demographic making up the majority of those in poverty – women bear the brunt of the ecological consequences caused by pollution and general environmental decline. And also that social injustice specifically towards women also creates cycles of environmental decline: women who are marginalized, exploited, oppressed and uneducated are more likely to create negative environmental impact in their communities. This gives us a lot to consider in terms of how to think about the issue and create change. After reading this article I looked into the topic on other platforms, and was struck by another article (The New Ecofeminism by Kaitlin Butler and Carolyn Raggensperger). Specifically, they talk about the idea that as a woman, “claiming rights” in an ecofeminist world also points us toward “claiming responsibility” for finding our role in affecting environmental change. As we become aware of the true nature of the global patriarchal system, which exploits and marginalizes both women and the environment, we can more adequately find our role in helping to both cast off patriarchal constraints, and also work towards environmental improvement.
It’s also interesting to consider the concept of a “moral wound” (from Butler/Raggensperger article). This is the idea that the ongoing, overwhelming injustices towards women cause global psychological trauma, just as the patriarchal system has physically wounded the environment. This idea resonates with me; as I delve into feminist theory, the more I learn the more it feels like the historical and ongoing oppression of women is a gaping sore in our society’s history as a whole.
I would argue the unequal burden of environmental degradation on the women of the world is a strong reason why feminists should also be environmentalists. However, the simple recognition of that connection is not the only depth that ecofeminism has to offer. For a feminist approach to reap the full benefits of ecofeminism, it needs to go beyond simply recognizing the benefits of a cleaner, healthier environment for humanity in general and women specifically: it must also recognize the underlying patriarchal values and power structures that contribute to the degradation both of women and of the natural world.
The recent proliferation of intersectional thought in feminism has made it widely known to feminists how patriarchy not only perpetuates sexism, but racism, homophobia, and other forms of marginalization and oppression as well. Ecofeminism’s strength is in recognizing how a patriarchal mindset leads to the additional exploitation of nature. Looking at women as a resource for men’s (often short-term) wellbeing rather than whole people who are part of a community mirrors the way people look at nature as a collections of resources for humanity’s (again, usually short-term) well-being rather than a whole ecosystem which we are inextricably part of. Recognizing parallels between the treatment of nature and the treatment of women can not only help women fight against environmental harm, but also avoid overlooking aspects of internalized misogyny and patriarchal ideas in our own analyses that we would miss by not considering the relationship of women’s oppression to that of the environment.
This was an interesting article and to think of feminism beyond just how we are treated in society but how it affects us globally. I thought tying in the economic value of women was insightful and on point. Women, even in poor areas of the world affect the environment and without education may hurt that environment. The idea that things just can’t be run by men is an important one as the article touched on the fact that men in a small village in India knew of 12 ways to use a tree and the women of the village knew of 32 is knowledge not being shared or valued by the men. We need to work together and communicate effectively if we want this world to be here and viable for generations to come. Understanding ecology is important for all of us because we all live in it together, not just men.
This is a very informed article. Its one thing to recognize feminism as the equality between genders, but then to understand the ranking of the genders in todays society globally and how climactic changes can alter them is another, more wholistic understanding of equality. If a person finds themselves to be a feminist but not an environmentalist, they would be sorely mistaken. Imagine you’re a soldier in the military who has just as much drive to serve your country, but you were shot by your lieutenant in the foot because he doesn’t want you to have equal opportunities or capabilities as the other soldiers. You originally possessed the ability to do as well as the other soldiers, but now you don’t. And to add insult to injury, now the rations are being consistently cut every week, only making your life harder. The denigration is equal, but your input from the travesty of not having enough food to eat week after week only exacerbates the situation and makes you increasingly more incapable of providing service to your country. Understanding how climate change denigrates every single person around the globe, one can see how this can be a source of empowerment towards lesser groups who are already underprivileged and suffering from opportunities. Since less privileged groups are first to suffer from a global challenge and perhaps the first to bring light and awareness to its catastrophic capabilities that everyone can relate to, it is possible that climate change can promote equality all across the board, since it is so devastating an event no one will be unaffected by it. Even though the soldier with the wounded foot caused by the lieutenant is now also getting less rations like everyone else, this also inspires those around the soldier to share their rations and to fight even harder to not see themselves and others suffer. Suffering brings us together. Perhaps a global suffering is what this planet needed to see the equality we all truly deserve.
Typical leftist would rather have everyone poor than countenance seeing someone with more than someone else.
That’s a misunderstanding of the left perpetrated by wealthy individuals who want middle-class people to vote in the interest of the wealthy.
The left wants a truly level playing field because when some people are born into great wealth they have great advantages or people who are born into poverty. So we need things like education and healthcare that give people more of an equal chance in life.
This is a great article and an excellent jumping off point for where for determining who will be most afflicted by climate change. Of course, every human on the planet will be affected by climate change, but I think its clear that those in poverty, women, and people of color will carry the brunt of the disruption. A recent EPA study showed that black and Latino Americans are exposed to more pollutants than white Americans, leading to an increase of health problems in their communities. Cities are more likely to place chemical plants and landfills near minority neighborhoods. This is a result of systemic racism and segregation coupled with lax environmental regulations and directly contributed to man’s detrimental input in the world. As the climate becomes more varied and anomalies become the status quo, mass displacement will follow large parts of the world becoming inhabitable. The American South, for example, is home to over half of the black American population and by the end of this century, mass migration north will have to take place. The poor do not have the resources to comfortably pick up their families and start anew in a changing world and with women and people of color more likely to be impoverished, preemptive efforts must be taken in reaching out and preparing these communities.
Reblogged this on sketchuniverse and commented:
HI SISTERS! TODAY WE ONLY HAVE A PICTURE BUT AN INTERESTING COGITATION TOO. MAYBE YOU WILL LIKE IT.
I haven’t ever put climate change in the same category as feminism, but this article does a great job of uniting the two ideas and their importance to each other. Unfortunately climate change is hitting the poorest areas of the world the hardest, because the in these harsh climates its already extremely difficult to produce food, etc. I looked at these groups as a whole instead of realizing that women have a predetermined role in these areas, which is protecting their families from the elements, and finding clean drinking water and food. Without many resources, such as education, many families rely on their surroundings to produce much of the mentioned, and if we continue down this disastrous path it will continue to get harder. Ideally educating these affected areas would go hand in hand with the positive change that is happening in our home areas, but that’s not the case. Continuing our fight for advancement in more sustainable energies and resources will spill over so we can hope to make a positive impact on the lives of other women, and people in general, in more compromised areas of the world.
world’s environmental crisis is impossible with half the population. Women, due to inequality and no opportunity, are in many ways the Earth’s greatest untapped resource. Ecofeminism is an interesting concept in the way it brings this to light and calls for change in order to effectively battle against environmental destruction and degradation. One of the most important sects of conservation organizations are the education and awareness campaigns organized to teach everyone about their ecological impact. If education were accessible to all women around the world, I believe there would be a notable decrease in the amount of disadvantaged women pouring their bleach into the rivers. Currently, there about 100,000 chemicals that are used commercially, the majority of which have unknown health risks and are polluting the air and ocean. many of these chemicals come from household cleaning products, body care products, over-the-counter medication, plastics, and other such items that individuals purchase without a second thought. As the caretakers of the home (majorly), I wonder how many women have the power to choose eco-friendly detergents, to lower water usage, and to invest in sustainable waste management, such as compost? Ecofeminism, through bringing equality to women and awareness to all, can help eradicate the detrimental daily actions (littering, throwing toxins into water, poor sanitation, etc.) and work towards an environmentally sustainable standard of living. Just as androcentrism is harmful to society, anthropocentrism is devastating to the environment, and the world is currently exhibiting both cultural ethics, with an aggressive opposition towards change.
*First sentence got cut off*
As an Environmental Sciences major, this article was particularly interesting and alarming to me. As Rachel Kyle so eloquently put, solving the world’s environmental crisis is impossible with half the population.
This is such an interesting post about ecofeminism! I agree with what Marian was trying to tell us. While I grew up in an Mexican-American culture I seen that women in Mexico did not have an idea of how to take care of the environment as much as taking care of their children and chores or cooking all day. On the other hand, most of the things or chemicals were organic. Today for example, women in villages like the Indian research in the article use other things or chemicals that cause harm. That can seriously affect us all men and women who live on planet earth. Now, if there is an ecofeminism movement in every single culture and all over the world there is a chance that this can be what we needed. The change needs to happen now and soon before there are bigger problems with the environment. This movement is not only going to change and improve women’s equality, but also help men balance the rights.
This is a fabulous article! As a student, I have made use of and implemented the ideas about multifaceted study/research to gain a better understanding of a topic with regard to others. Many things in life are interdisciplinary and I believe the connection, made by author Marian Avila-Breach, between women’s rights and environmental protection laws is quite significant. Upon reading, I was surprised to learn that ecofeminism is such a thing. Who knew there could be this many similarities? The most important takeaway I found is that “ecofeminism understands that bringing women to the fight helps further ecological goals in a way a ‘men-only’ approach would not.” Given that women have personal experience in pushing for their own rights (Women’s Suffrage Movement, #MeToo, Women’s March), they would definitely aid in the fight for environmental protection laws as it fortuitously supports their beliefs. And for those “traditional opinion outlets and groups of people that do not want to see the global status quo change,” I believe this hopeful approach enables them to interpret each from a unifying perspective which allows for greater equality to all.
I most definitely agree with this post. I find it very interesting in how when there was Research done in India about the uses of a tree, that the women surpassed the men in finding uses. This does not surprise me because it is the same in most households; women are the main household caretakers, and like you said, we must gather resources and find ways to make sure things get done and get done right. In combining these two issues, it creates a very powerful standpoint and platform for women to fight for and to be included in something that is a fight of value for not only women but all genders. Regardless of how strong and powerful men are in fighting issues like this, without women on their side, they would be at a loss since women make up more than half the population of the world. To make a change, all must contribute as a whole society to global issues such as these. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and views on this post and enlightening us on how these issues are relevant towards one another. Very interesting post.
Excellent article dear Georgia.
“Feminism and all theories that purport equality, look at the world and its governments and institutions and attempt to look further and look at how the world should be”: I agree with that statement and I see why women’s rights are linked to portectiong the environment.
Clearly, in a major scale women are in charge of the house and the real thing is that most resources come from nature.
In that sense, the example provided by the end of the article is eloquent.
“In a small village in India, researchers asked the local men to describe the uses of a local tree; the men provided on average 12 different uses. Later, the researchers went into homes and asked women; women on average recited 32”.
It absolutey makes sense. Productive means are linked to productive uses… And even to language (I was thinking of the Eskimos who have lots of words to refer to different types of color White, simply because white is the color that monopolizes their immediate surroundings… But this is just a side note)…
Love & best wishes. Merry Christmas 😀
Thanks for your thoughts!
The people who are happiest in the world are those from strong democratic socialist countries: Denmark, Wweden, Norway, Iceland. They are always in the top 10, and largely in the top five happiest countries. And I think their culture helps to make that happen. So I think you need cultural evolution which supports caring for everyone in the community. (And these democratic socialists are different from communist countries. They are a mix of market/individualism and caring for one another.)”
Well Sweden was set up to be good, but that got too liberal and didn’t want to look racist and worried too much about that, than what they can actually handle and Sweden women might not be happy as they used to be because of the huge population of men with fundamentalist views, which is more mysognist and there have been more violence against women since this. Hopefully Denmark, Norway, and Iceland learn from Sweden. And caring for others, but that’s tough because while people who aren’t that selfish want to share. Many people work hard for their money and their success, while there are others who choose to not work hard or complacent with where they work and could work somewhere else but decide to stay at a low paying, dead end job. I’m not talking about people having a hard life and poor for such reasons or disability or you know where a woman gets knocked up young so can’t go to college and like in a city or town that is poor.
But many whom perhaps should be more motivated so you’re sharing your wealth, hard earned $ with people whom I’d not have a problem helping a little, but sometimes people who are like the latter, they become dependent when they know they’ll keep getting help and not push themselves out of it or try. Like I said this is about that, it’s hard to probably dissect the two. Like people who are trying to better themselves but like I said, just life hitting them hard, that’s one thing. But others whom just aren’t trying more that’s another. In a country like that it seems like everyone is paying for each other so some people have a reason to be lazy right?
During the Clinton administration there was only 1% unemployment – which shows most people want to work. It’s hard on peoples ego when they can’t work.
Thanks for your thoughts. I’m taking a break from my blog until mid-January. Merry Christmas.
thanks, merry christmas to you as well.
Right off the bat the term, “ecofeminism” intrigued me and interested me in this post. The reason for this is the lack of mainstream awareness about ecofeminism. The notion of equal rights for women relating to better regulation and protection for our environment seems unrelated, yet by using my sociological imagination it shines more light on the lives of individual women being affected by the environment more than men. In your section about why women should care about ecofeminism, the evidence was strong and clear that women’s rights will help the destruction of the environment, and environmental protection will assure better lives for women across the world. Another point in your article is that men should care about a healthy environment because it’ll benefit all life on Earth. Through the shifting of lenses that men see the world in, hopefully a majority, if not all, of men grow a more conscientious mindset because then they hopefully will care about the rights of women as much as they do for the rights of the environment. One of the most powerful points in your post is how women are contributing to pollution through a lack of education, shining light on how cyclic the world is and how destructive humans are when people are uneducated. Your post is eyeopening on how women and the environment are dependent on the other one to a certain extent. What I learned is that order to truly help the world we live in it is necessary to both stand up for the rights, especially education, of women, the protection of the environment, and that it is important to stress the relationship between women and the environment so more people are aware and willing to help the only world and our human race survive.
Good point. A domination mindset underlies sexism, racism, homophobia, domination of the environment… instead of living in harmony with it. So it all goes together.
Is it the culture that exaggerates bad human aspects and fosters it or this comes from the bad or imperfect side of human beings? The reason I ask is because you know the 7 deadly sins right? Greed is one of them. Everybody or most people can have a part of their personality where they have moments of selfishness and greed. It’s just that others who are more selfish lack empathy and can take from others and care less. A lot of domination mindset comes from greed.
You want it all, you need to keep up the high pedestal and find ways to keep others down right? When others can be kept down, then you can keep your riches and keep it up. Pride is there too. So women, people of color, lgbt community, poor, and it;s just take, take, take. Which is why the environment gets harmed and also because of selfishness. That asshole CEOs probably know they are hurting the environment, but what does it matter to them since they’ll be dead before they see the effect of it to where it hurts them? It’s the future generation and people who are not wealthy, thus not protected who will hurt the most from the environment. You said partnership, but the cultures you know of partnership were small communities. That’s easy to work and does for a small population, but a huge country with 300 million like America. There’s a balance with the economy and idealistic things don’t alway work.
We’ve seen the failure of communism. You know equal and people getting paid the same, but there are people with different skills and abilities and whom work harder than others. Like ideally it would be nice but it seems to show the flaws of human beings and people aren’t “that good and maybe it’s not all culture? A lot of things need some hierarchy and partnership doesn’t work. Think of work an occupations. Think of it every worker had equal authority. Nothing would get done ha. People wouldn’t be working together as egos would get involved and everyone is right and then some could be bossy. It’ why there is a system where depending on the business. There’s an owner or Ceo at top, then executive people, then regional operation and then district manager, then tore manger, then assistant manager or assistant managers, then some have staff managers, then department manager, and then coordinator or supervisors an then the regular employee. A chain of command.
My personal belief is that everyone of us has both positive and negative sides to our personality. Some emphasize one side more than others. But whether the conflict is within you or within the culture, it gives us all an opportunity to grow.
The people who are happiest in the world are those from strong democratic socialist countries: Denmark, Wweden, Norway, Iceland. They are always in the top 10, and largely in the top five happiest countries. And I think their culture helps to make that happen. So I think you need cultural evolution which supports caring for everyone in the community. (And these democratic socialists are different from communist countries. They are a mix of market/individualism and caring for one another.)