Ecofeminism

approach to feminism influenced by ecologist movement

Ecofeminism is a branch of feminism that sees environmentalism, and the relationship between women and the earth, as foundational to its analysis and practice. Ecofeminist thinkers address the parallels between the oppression of nature and the oppression of women.

In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground- a time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now. ~Wangari Maathai

QuotesEdit

(most recent first)

 
The common thread among ecofeminists is that the patriarchal power in society oppresses both nature and women. This interconnection between the mistreatment of nature and the degradation of women is the core of ecofeminism. ~ Abdel Mohsen Ibrahim Hashim
  • Ecofeminism is a philosophical, political, and academic movement that studies the intersection of feminism and environmentalism, drawing parallels between the systemic oppression of women and the degradation of nature, both of which result from male domination of society. It is a broad field with several overlapping branches that study the various ways in which feminist issues intersect with environmental concerns.
  • The belief that “meat-eating is a form of patriarchal domination” is pervasive among many ecofeminists who aim to include the oppression of nonhuman animals in ecofeminism as there is a strong correlation between the oppression of women, nonhuman animals, and the environment. Speciesism—the assumption of human superiority that justifies exploitation of animals based on species membership—is a form of oppression central to the ecofeminist concept....Just like women are objectified in the society, nonhuman animals are too. This objectification allows humans to subject mice, guinea pigs, monkeys, rabbits, pigs and other nonhuman species to systems of violence under the guise of “scientific testing” in several industries. The abuse of animals for the amusement of humans in entertainment industries is another example.
  • Ecofeminism helps us see that we are all connected, that divisions such as human and nonhuman, are false binaries—and that by harming nonhuman forms of life, we harm ourselves. Ecofeminism asks that we eliminate all forms of “power over,” and that we live in equity with all biotic life. Poison the earth, we poison ourselves. Harm others, we harm ourselves. Continuing to live in our present system of patriarchal domination and exploitation will ultimately result in our complete self-destruction and ecocide.
    • Earth Day, Ecofeminism and Racial Injustice in the Year of the Plague, COVID-19, by Heidi Hutner, MS. (magazine), (22 April 2020)
 
Eco-feminism is a critical and wide-ranging set of ideas that call attention to the link between centuries of exploitation of women and the environment. ~ Leanna First-Arai
 
We are either going to have a future where women lead the way to make peace with the Earth or we are not going to have a future at all. ~ Vandana Shiva
  • In a university classroom packed with a multigenerational crowd... Spanish Ministry of Finances researcher María Pazos Morán dug into what she identified as the “core” of climate problem: a male-driven economy that centers the needs of only half of the population. “Cars and planes,” “meat” and “caretaking” were the headings of a grid she and her colleagues drew on a whiteboard. “These are three major topics that are big contributors to contamination,” she said... Men are most employed by and most involved in the consumption of two of the most polluting: private means of transportation and meat consumption. Given that men continue to hold more leadership roles in government, they also disproportionately advocate for policies that enable the uninhibited continuation of each, such as ongoing corn and soy subsidies which keep beef prices artificially low and a lack of funding for public transit projects.
  • Women are more likely to experience poverty and have less socioeconomic power than men, which makes it more difficult for them to recover from weather disasters that are becoming more and more frequent. Ecofeminism is a movement that aims to address this problem. It recognizes that life in society as well as nature should be maintained by means of collaboration instead of domination — and that the domination of women and nature stem from the same roots.
  • Ecofeminist scholars who coined the term “ecofeminism” in the 1970s argued that the system of capitalist patriarchy is the underlying source of both the exploitation of nature and the oppression of women. As stated in the book Ecofeminism by Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva, the desire for dominance over females has led men to oppress women through rape, violence, and sexism, while the desire for profit has led men to oppress nature through the exploitation of its resources and the destruction of ecosystems.
  • Now that record numbers of women are running for office in the U.S. in 2018 and men, as well as many enlightened companies, are increasingly supporting the movement for gender equality, a much more gender equal political-economic system is emerging in our country—one that holds the promise of a much healthier planet...
  • We are either going to have a future where women lead the way to make peace with the Earth or we are not going to have a future at all
    • Vandana Shiva quoted in Woman power to the fore, by R.S. Binuraj, The Hindu (1 July 2017)
  • Eco-Feminism, one of the more recent developments in feminist theory, advocates that the paternalistic/capitalistic society has led to a harmful split between nature and culture that can only be healed by the feminine instinct for nurture and holistic knowledge of nature’s process. The strikingly new concepts of Eco-Feminism are metaphorically narrated in some of the mobile network ads. Women are equipped with a heightened sense of sustainability and a caring attitude. In one ad, the gift given to the retired man is a sapling, given by a girl. In another ad, the idea of developing traditional and nature-friendly products to develop the village is proposed by the girl; and she leads the men of her village to this goal. All of these advertisements promote eco-friendly ideas such as the use of paper bags, planting of trees and sustainable development.
    • Woman power to the fore, by R.S. Binuraj, The Hindu (1 July 2017)
  • In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground- a time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now.  
    • Wangari Maathai quoted in Woman power to the fore, by R.S. Binuraj, The Hindu (1 July 2017)
  • Basically, ecofeminism sees a relationship between the serious environmental damage done to the earth and the repression of women. But that one relationship can take many forms, depending on what kind of ecofeminist you are. One form of ecofeminism takes it very literally, saying that women are viewed in the same way as natural resources: as something to be taken, plundered, or used... Whatever your interpretation, ecofeminism is a unique feminist lens on the very real relationship between gender and environmental issues. Damage to the environment is definitely a feminist issue; it desperately needs the involvement of empowered, educated women to succeed in protecting communities and stopping further serious degradation.
  • When Maria Mies and I wrote Ecofeminism two decades ago, we were addressing the emerging challenges of our times. Every threat we identified has grown deeper. And with it has grown the relevance of an alternative to capitalist patriarchy if humanity and the diverse species with which we share the planet are to survive. Ecofeminism was first published one year after the Earth Summit, where two important treaties were signed by the governments of the world: the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. There was no World Trade Organization. However, two years after Ecofeminism, the WTO was established, privileging corporate rights, commerce and profits, and further undermining the rights of the Earth, the rights of women and the rights of future generations. We wrote about what globalization implied for nature and women. Every crisis we mentioned is deeper; every expression of violence more brutal.
  • If the dichotomy between life-producing and preserving and commodity-producing activities is abolished, if men acquire caring and nurturing qualities which have so far been considered women’s domain, and if, in an economy based on self-reliance, mutuality, self-provisioning, not women alone but men too are involved in subsistence production they will have neither time nor the inclination to pursue their destructive war games. A subsistence perspective will be the most significant contribution to the de-militarization of men and society. Only a society based on a subsistence perspective can afford to live in peace with nature, and uphold peace between nations, generations and men and women, because it does not base its concept of a good life on the exploitation and domination of nature and other people.
  • Finally, it must be pointed out that we are not the first to spell out a subsistence perspective as a vision for a better society. Wherever women and men have envisaged a society in which all — women and men, old and young, all races and cultures — could share the ‘good life’, where social justice, equality, human dignity, beauty and joy in life were not just utopian dreams never to be realized (except for a small elite or post poned to an after-life), there has been close to what we call a subsistence perspective.
  • Kamla Bhasin, an Indian feminist who tried to spell out what ‘sustainable development’ could mean for all women in the world lists a number of principles of sustainability similar to the features of a subsistence perspective. It is clear to her, as it is to many women and men who are not blind to the reality that we live in a limited world, that sustainability is not compatible with the existing profit- and growth-oriented development paradigm. And this means that the standard of living of the North’s affluent societies cannot be generalized. This was already clear to Mahatma Gandhi 60 years ago,who, when asked by a British journalist whether he would like India to have the same standard of living as Britain, replied: ‘To have its standard of living a tiny country like Britain had to exploit half the globe. How many globes will India need to exploit to have the same standard of living?’ From an ecological and feminist perspective, moreover, even if there were more globes to be exploited, it is not even desirable that this development paradigm and standard of living was generalized, because it has failed to fulfil its promises of happiness, freedom, dignity and peace, even for those who have profited from it.
  • The common thread among ecofeminsts is that the patriarchal power in society oppresses both nature and women. This interconnection between the mistreatment of nature and the degradation of women is the core of ecofeminism. In this sense, "the rape of the earth, in all its forms," to quote Plant (1989), "becomes a metaphor for the rape of woman, in all its many guises" (p. 5). In Women and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her, (1978), Griffin discusses the close connection between women and nature, revealing how the female speaker feels proud of having her roots in the earth:
    I know I am made from this earth, as my mother’s hands were made from this earth, as her dreams came from this earth and all that I know, I know in this earth, the body of the bird, this pen, this paper, these hands, this tongue speaking, all that I know speaks to me through this earth and I long to tell you, you who are earth too, and listen as we speak to each other of what we know: the light is in us (p.227).
    ...If we learn to communicate with each other and acknowledge the value of being interconnected with both the human and the other-than-human on this planet, we can then unmake the current world and start anew.
  • The word ‘ecofeminism’ might be new, but the pulse behind it has always driven women’s efforts to save their livelihood and make their communities safe. From the Chipko forest dwellers of North India some 300 years ago to the mothers of coal mining Appalachia right now, the struggle to create life-affirming societies goes on. It intensifies today as corporate globalization expands and contracts, leaving no stone unturned, no body unused. The partnership of Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva symbolizes this commonground among women; it speaks of a grassroots energy that is found in a movement across all continents. Ecological feminists are both street-fighters and philosophers.
  • With ecofeminism, the political focus turns outwards. Its first premise is that the ‘material’ resourcing of women and of nature are structurally interconnected in the capitalist patriarchal system. Ecofeminists may draw on other strands of feminism at times, but liberal and postmodern approaches are generally unhelpful for building global political alliances with workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, and other victims of the Western drive to accumulation. A critically important facet of ecofeminism is that it offers an alternative to the relativism that takes over as capitalist commodification homogenizes cultures. Mies and Shiva paint a sharp contrast between the social decay of passive consumerism and the social vitality of skillful, self-sufficient and autonomous livelihood economies: subsistence.
  • The displacement of women from agriculture disempowers women and reduces food security. Food systems evolved by women based on biodiversity based production rather than chemical based production produce hundreds of times more food, with better nutrition, quality, and taste.... The Millennium Development Goals ignore these women friendly alternatives which would not just halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. Women can remove hunger not just by 50% ‐ they would remove it by 100% both because their knowledge system and technologies produce more while using less, but also because in our value system it is unacceptable that in 2015, 500 million should continue to go hungry.
  • In Ecofeminism Maria Mies, a German social scientist and activist in the feminist movement, and Vandana Shiva, an Indian theoretical physicist from the ecology movement, issue a serious and urgent call for a new vision, which they term the subsistence or survival perspectives. For Mies and Shiva the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (UNCED, June 1992) simply confirmed their conviction that "solutions to the present worldwide ecological, economic and social problems cannot be expected from the ruling elite of the North or the South... [Rather] a new vision -a new life for present and future generations, and for our fellow creatures on earth... can be found only in the survival struggle of grassroots movements.
  • Our aim is to go beyond this narrow perspective [patriarchy and hierarchies] and to express our diversity and, in different ways, address the inherent inequalities in world structures which permit the North to dominate the South, men to dominate women, and the frenetic plunder of ever more resources for ever more unequally distributed economic gain to dominate nature.

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