The Biotic Woman: Intro to ecofeminism
ecofeminism, noun: a philosophical and political movement that combines ecological concerns with feminist ones, regarding both as resulting from male domination in society
With “green” being all the rage the last few years, it’s no wonder environmental issues have become so mainstream. But media savvy and socially responsible feminists know that environmentalism and ecofeminism are not new ideas, even as many of the relationships between the planet and women’s rights become more salient as the earth warms and we suffer the effects. Bitch has always been keen to deconstruct naked PETA advertisements and sexual meat metaphors. To continue some of that analysis and add a whole mess of my own, I’ll be blogging here about ecofeminist issues—an admittedly wide range of topics that will incorporate many ideas about the planet, animals, and feminism, and the relationship between the subjugation of all three.
To me, ecofeminism is not a rigid belief system but instead incorporates many aspects of feminist activism under one environmentally conscious umbrella. For me, a large part of that work is veg*nism, by which I mean either vegetarianism (which I used to practice) or veganism (which I currently practice) or some combination of the two. Admittedly, I don’t see much disconnect between environmental issues, feminism, and animal rights issues (not to be confused with animal welfare, which I’ll discuss in another post).
I appreciate that many of these ideas have been circulating in feminist and/or lesbian communities for decades, and I’m so pleased to continue to learn from those who came before me. The myriad communities fighting gendered and speciesist injustice and environmental degradation are widespread. Indigenous women in communities of the Global South are living the extreme and often horrific results of global warming and are working to make this reality understood. The recent crisis in Haiti is a stark reminder of how much environmental issues are so closely linked to everyday survival. In the United States and Canada, rural women have also been longtime leaders in environmental feminist movements, and as someone with a family background rooted in rural poverty, I’m excited to explore that history as well. Despite this well-documented past—and much like other schools of thought or ideological labels I’ve embraced over the years—an ecofeminist model made sense to me long before I knew there was a word to describe it.
I’m someone who values firsthand experience, which is admittedly ironic since when I write I often ask my readers to take my word for something. Personally, videos, photos, and even horrible stories are only so effective without the real world counterpart. It can be easy to shut out facts removed from your own experience, but it’s much harder when you’ve met people living with the damaging effects of climate change, or you’ve spent an afternoon with an abused sheep who decides to trust you anyway. As a writer and journalist based in Copenhagen, I live in an unusually eco-friendly city and had the pleasure of meeting some of the women at the forefront of the environmental movement during COP15 last month. Before I moved to Denmark, I lived in Boston and volunteered at a small farm animal sanctuary outside of town, which was where so many of these issues finally crystallized in my mind. For me, all of this is a practice, a journey. I accept that I can always do more and make imperfect decisions along the way, and I don’t believe in monolithic definitions of most things. Environmentalism and veg*nism are certainly two diverse sets of beliefs, though I do hope they often overlap.
In the next weeks, I’ll be looking at a variety of intersecting issues including the human cost of chocolate, the use of fur in northern climates and indigenous cultures, soy and soybean farming, nuclear power’s environmental effects, ideas for carbon-free transit, the links between racism and animal oppression, and how you can be a pro-choice vegan. I’ll deconstruct and highlight ecofeminist issues in the news, like today’s New York Times editorial about Big Food. I’ll also be looking to a lot of female and feminist leaders on environmental and animal rights issues and featuring their words hopefully even more than my own. I’m looking forward to critically engaging in these issues, receiving your feedback and comments, and learning from the Bitch community!
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