Are you looking for a way to stay educated and informed on gender issues, or gain new perspectives on how to improve the world? Ever heard of ecofeminism?
It’s no secret that women are oppressed and mistreated to this day in many different cultures across the world. Similarly, nature doesn’t exactly receive the kindest treatment by humans either. Philosophers and activists see an inseparable connection between these two topics that has led to the development of a particular idea: ecofeminism.
Ecofeminism combines the studies of ecology and feminism to highlight the critical abuse of both nature and women. Practices such as misogyny and deforestation are linked by the inability of patriarchal societies to see the damage wreaked upon women and nature.
How are they inseparably linked, you may ask? Feminism and ecology have more than one connection.
First, there is the most simplified idea of ecofeminism: “women are viewed in the same way as natural resources: as something to be taken, plundered, or used.” Humanity’s exploitation of natural resources, whether it be soil, timber, or water, is the exact negligence many women receive in the household or in the workplace.
Let me pose an example. A woman is objectified in the workplace by the men who inhabit the space around her. The men only notice the woman’s body, not her skills. In nature, animals are a vital part of the ecosystem, where they are poached and hunted not only for money but for fun.
This example focuses on the heedless actions of societies in the hopes that it will inspire people to change their abusive actions as a whole. “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,” says Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva (depicted above) in their book Ecofeminism.
Another aspect of ecofeminism entails women’s hidden and critical roles in the world of nature. In developing countries, men often lead their community while women remain as the nurturers. The women gather and use the nature around them to survive.
Women are thus forced to be dependent upon nature in these cultural situations. Their gender and class place them as the gatherer, harming nature just as they are harmed by the patriarchal system.
The connection is how nature and women are viewed. Writer Leigh Graham sums this idea up beautifully: “Women are hurt most by the exploitation of the earth because they are the most vulnerable in patriarchal society. The main focus is on women who are more at risk because they suffer double oppression of poverty, race, education, or nation.”
Think about it this way: individuals use terms such as “mother” nature and “fertile” soil, linking nature to feminine attributes. Cultures normalize this comparison of women and nature without people even noticing.
It’s time to notice this link. It’s time to start caring instead of ignoring the issues. In this case, the world of nature and feminism would be a much better place.
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