Our theme of the month is Ecofeminism, through which we invite you, our readers, our writers and anyone else to reflect upon the link between environmental justice, nature, and feminist struggles. Ultimately, seeking to unravel the ones in which our interlocking identities influence our approach to nature as well as whose bodies are most impacted.
‘Feminist environmental philosophy’ represents an umbrella term highlighting the diversity of positions on the (inter-)connections between our natural environment, non-human livings, and women of diverse race/ethnicities, socio-economic and geographic backgrounds. In this way, women’s oppression is here rooted in and linked with the unjustified domination and exploitation of nature by men.
Within this school of thought, in 1974, French feminist Françoise d’Eaubonne coined the notion of “ecological feminism (ecofeminism)”, urging women to bring about a feminist ecological revolution. In essence, ecofeminism explores the interconnections between women’s oppression and the exploitation of nature as well as critiques male-biased Western philosophical standpoints on women and nature before providing alternatives to such biased perspectives. In other words, our natural environments just as women are being suppressed by patriarchal structures, which also impacts the way we approach global environmental issues, such as climate change.
By the late 80s, ecofeminism branched into two subfields: radical ecofeminism and cultural ecofeminism. The former critiques women’s direct association with nature found in the current patriarchal dominant structures. Here, it seeks to deconstruct the dominant perspective where both women and nature have been attributed with negative and commodifiable attributes, while men are seen as establishing order. In turn, this is said to exacerbate the exploitation of our natural environment and women for cheap labour and resources. Seeking to bring down the inherent inequalities within world structures, radical ecofeminists (especially from the Global South) seek to challenge the capitalist-patriarchal agenda allowing the domination of the Global North over the Global South, of men over women, and the frenetic exploitation of natural resources in the name of profits.
Cultural ecofeminists contend that women have more intimate connection with nature because of their respective gender roles (nurturer and food provider), and biological phenomena such as menstruation, pregnancy, and lactation. Women are more sensitive to the sanctity of nature as well as its potential degradation, which should be praised and encouraged. Ergo, women represent the gateway to the spirituality of nature. However, this view has also been critiqued as reinforcing traditional gender roles.
Ecofeminism thus represents a branch of feminism where gender intersects with nature, climate change, and capitalism. In this way, many argue that empowering and elevating women’s positions and statuses within the environmental justice movement can help foster our responses to the climate crisis, mitigate its effects, and allow us to develop a sustainable approach to development action. And for you, what is the benefit of understanding nature and feminism as intrinsically linked and connected?
Sources and Further Readings