What is it?
Ecofeminism was first coined as a word in France in the 1970s, by Francois D’Aubonne. Ecofeminism seeks to eliminate the ‘parallel’ forms of oppression of women and nature. Ecofeminists view all forms of oppression-- including racism, classicism, ageism, heterosexism, religionism—as unacceptable and, as indelibly linked to the oppression of women and the environment.
This movement highlights the need to shift away from patriarchal and capitalistic systems of domination and exploitation, as well as dualistic and ‘power over’ belief systems. Ecofeminists advocate for equity, equality, fairness, and an ethic of care among all forms of biotic life. Ecofeminism does not view “mankind” as superior to or sitting on top of nature—but instead sees humans and nature as part of an interconnected living web. Some early ecofeminists viewed women as inherently or spiritually “closer” to nature and as ‘natural’ nature protectors, but most ecofeminists today do not hold this view. They see this type of “essentalism” as reinforcing the very sexist ideologies that feminist, gender, and queer philosophies seek to undo. Ecofeminism holds the door open to people of all genders, races, colors, classes, religions and ages and all forms of biotic life. All beings are welcome at the table and all are held as equals.
The oppression of a given group or groups over others has led to many fundamental social, environmental and health problems including issues of violence, abuse, and destruction, and environmental degradation. Ours is a dualistic society in which hierarchy rules, and this pits us against each other as humans, and as humans against non-human nature.
Environmental degradation is the primary issue that Ecofeminists work to solve, but ecofeminists believe that all forms of oppression are interconnected. For this reason, Ecofeminist and Environmental Justice philosophies have strong ties.
Human exploitation of the environment causes extinction of flora and fauna, depletion and tainting of necessary resources, and widespread environmental catastrophes like climate change. Ecofeminists want to heal and maintain a healthy earth.
What’s been done?
Ecofeminist writers and activists such as Carolyn Merchant, Charlene Spretnak, Karen J. Warren, Starhawk, Winona LaDuke, Greta Gaard, Petra Kelly, Wangari Maathi, Vandana Shiva, Alice Walker, Heidi Hutner, Osprey Orielle Lake, Terry Tempest Williams, and others have worked to spread the goals of Ecofeminism far and wide. Activists and writers apply the philosophy of Ecofeminism to solving environmental and social problems.
What can you do?
Support equality between ALL people, animals, and the environment itself. Use your words and actions carefully. Avoid being abusive verbally or physically to any living creature. Avoid using oppressive and sexist naturist language to speak negatively about women or natural life.
learn more here:
The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions by Paul Gunn Allen
Al Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life by Winona LaDuke
Last Standing Woman by Winona LaDuke
Recovering the Sacred: The Power of Claiming and Naming by Winona LaDuke
Fighting for Hope 1984 by Petra Kelly
Thinking Green! Essays on Environmentalism, Feminism, and Nonviolence (1994) by Petra Kelly
Nonviolence Speaks to Power, online book, almost complete (1992), Petra Kelly
Earthcare: Women and the Environment by Carolyn Merchant
Radical Ecology: The Search for a Livable World (Revolutionary Thought and Radical Movements) by Carolyn Merchant
Reinventing Nature by Carolyn Merchant
The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution by Carolyn Merchant
Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge by Vandana Shiva
Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace by Vandana Shiva
Making Peace with the Earth: Beyond Resource, Land, and Food Wars by Vandana Shiva
Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development by Vandana Shiva
Rational Reality: New Discoveries of the Interrelatedness That are Transforming the Modern World by Charlene Spretnak
The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess
Ecofeminism: Women, Culture, and Nature by Karen Warren
Ecofeminist Philosophy by Karen Warren