Monday, July 31, 2017

What is Ecofeminism?

Hello everyone,
The term 'ecofeminism' was coined in 1974 by writer, activist, revolutionary, and dedicated ecofeminist, Françoise d’Eaubonne. Assumptions are made that the ideology of ecofeminism evolves from the condemnation of patriarchy, however, the impulse to control nature is dated thousands of years ago when ancient civilizations first participated in speciesism and anthropocentrism. 
To continue, ecofeminism first appeared in the 1970s by feminists who fought against the power of patriarchy. They pushed the idea that oppression was an interconnected concept that included the natural world. The movement argues that women and nature are viewed as “less than” of man. 
The 1960s are an excellent example of just how male-dominated society was. Women became part of the workforce and received very little respect, mentally and financially. The double standard was branded upon women to uphold their given roles as homemakers and mothers. Women were seen as background workers who stayed at home with the family while refraining from any contribution to production; women were perceived as “the second sex.” In good time, people started to pay close attention to this issue when Betty Friedan’s, The Feminine Mystique, was released to the public in 1963.
Betty Friedan (left)
Photo credit: http://sohp.org/

Writer, Linda Napikoski, states, 
The Feminine Mystique explains that in post-World War II United States life, women were encouraged to be wives, mothers and housewives – and only wives, mothers, and housewives. This, Betty Friedan says, was a failed social experiment. Relegating women to the “perfect” housewife or happy homemaker role prevented much success and happiness, both among the women themselves, and consequently their families. At the end of the day, Friedan writes in the first pages of her book, housewives were asking themselves, “Is that all?
It wasn’t until the early 1990s that the idea of animals being including as “less than” came to be. Many ecofeminists were claiming titles as “environmentalists,” yet, the inclusion of animals was nonexistent. 
Those who spoke out on this matter were labeled “animal ecofeminists.” Carol J. Adams, writer of The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theorywas one of the few who couldn’t make sense as to how an individual could consume meat and use products from animals but then claim an ecofeminist title. Adams believes that dominating animals is indeed dominating nature. This was her argument in her book, Neither Man nor Beast: Feminism and the Defense of AnimalsAdam’s argues that, 
Ecofeminism identifies a series of dualisms: culture/ nature; male/female; self/other; rationality/emotion. Some include human/animals in the series. According to ecofeminist theory, nature has been dominated by culture; female has been dominated by male; emotion has been dominated by rationality; animals… Where are animals in ecofeminist theory and practice?
The disconnect was evident in the early 90s. However, Adams knew that animals were indeed part of nature, part of a dominated ‘thing.’
Adams slowly starting reaching people as they began to examine their ecofeminist theories. Unfortunately, another issue emerged to light. Those who followed this new movement were labeled as essentialists. They received a significant amount of backlash for “upholding the gender binary.” This created a distraction from the actual problem: patriarchy and the commodification of the “less than.”
Photo credit: www.caroljadams.com

Adams explains that, 
Ecofeminists were described as being essentialists, i.e., that we were saying that there was something unique or distinct about being a woman that made us more pacifist or less violent, that we were somehow holding an essentialist position that upheld the gender binary.
Simply, ecofeminism realizes that there exists an ethic for care, as so eloquently stated by Adams within her blog, www.caroljadams.com. Realizing that suffering is something experienced by all beings is an essential step to understanding the concept behind ecofeminism, an idea that I've been embracing with every passing day.
Within her blog, Adams states, 
In our new anthology, Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth, Lori Gruen and I say, “Exposing dualistic frameworks operating in oppressive situations did not mean that ecofeminists valorized the non-dominant parts of the dualism nor viewed the characteristics of the non-dominant part as ‘natural.’ In arguing relationally and developing a care tradition in animal ethics, ecofeminists were challenging, not accepting, the essentializing structure of the division between men as rational and women as emotional.
The truth is, humans and nature, nature including animals, are interrelated. We are all interconnected because we all suffer from our oppressors. Ecofeminism is indeed political, and it identifies that all oppressions are interconnected. 
Here is a video that briefly and thoroughly explains ecofeminism.

The idea behind ecofeminism attracts my attention due to my love of the environment, wildlife conservation, animal welfare, and animal liberation. It is important that I make clear that I believe all beings deserve equality. I believe in the ethics of care. Our meat feels the same fear I feel when I think of confinement and torture when it was alive.
There is such a term that associates the idea that meat is a product. The thought that this “product” used to be alive is absent. Absent referent is the concept of not labeling something as “someone.” Adams' perspective, as discussed by www.thevegetariansite.com, is, 
…terms relating to the parts of a woman’s body and cuts of meat are often used interchangeably, and Adams points to advertising that does so in an overt manner. The link is also seen in everyday language: If animals are the absent referent in the phrase, “the butchering of women,” then women are the absent referent in the phrase, “the rape of animals."
Absent referent is an important term because it identifies how people justify their consumption of another being by simply cloaking the violence behind the steak on the plate. This term is used to identify how the meat eater protects their conscience, by just labeling the animal as immaterial, or a product, not a being. The meat is now separated from the idea (or fact) that it was once a living being, in all actuality, a someone. In a sense, the animal disappears, and we completely lose consciousness of a food product being an animal.
Equality isn’t an idea; it is a practice. We practice it when we don’t treat other people or other animals as objects. We practice it when we ask “what are you going through?” and understand that we ask the question because it matters to all of us what some are experiencing” – Carol J. Adams, The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory
The Sexual Politics of Meat argues that women and animals both suffer from male dominance. We are linked because we are seen as a product; we are objectified. We both function as absent referents because we are used for production.
I hope this post was able to help you understand ecofeminism. I know this is a lot to take in, it definitely was for me. It’s certainly an uncomfortable topic for some, but getting out of one’s comfort zone is when change happens. Furthermore, it is essential that I point out that I am, in no way, comparing oppressions. I am only identifying an existing problem, as well as continuing its dialogue. 
 Until next time!

Nala

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