Ecofeminism

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 depiction of women and trees as one is a common feature of ecofeminist art. 

The depiction of women and trees as one is a common feature of ecofeminist art. 

What’s wrong?

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.

Winona LaDuke, Native American ecofeminist, environmental activist and writer works to bring attention to the rights of women, the environment and native peoples. 

Winona LaDuke, Native American ecofeminist, environmental activist and writer works to bring attention to the rights of women, the environment and native peoples. 

 

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:

Books 

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

By Starhawk

Ecofeminism: Women, Culture, and Nature by Karen Warren

Ecofeminist Philosophy by Karen Warren

 

Video clip

“Earth Democracy” Lecture by Vandana Shiva at Portland Community College, 2011