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The Definition and Goals of Ecofeminism

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Each one of us has an ecological footprint, an imprint of our own consumption but it is tectonic to examine humanity’s global footprint on the earth. Humans have had such a massive impact on the planet. We have altered earth systems so much that geologists have named the current geologic time period the ‘Anthroposcene’ or the age of humans; the grand view of humanity’s impact on the earth. The researcher’s intention is to introduce and explain one lens through which one can think about human relationships to one another and to the earth, Ecofeminism. ‘Women’ are the primary guardians of ‘nature’, projecting deep ecological concerns say reflecting ‘Gaia’ herself, unveiling immense relentless ‘resilience’ when it comes to sustaining life in this realm of diverse living species. This embodiment of phenomenal domains, ‘women’ and ‘nature’ is Ecofeminism. Ecology is the study of living organisms in the environment and feminism in its basic relates to advocacy to the gender equality and women’s rights but when these to ideas commune it operates gender as the advantage point examining the cause and the perpetuate subordination of both women and the nature, say it tools as a lens to examine intersection of oppression. Harmful practices that exploit the environment and social practices that oppress women among other groups have an overlap which is interest point of ecofeminism.

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Eco-feminism, also known as ecological feminism, an expression created out of the myriad forms of various socio-feminist theories, activisms of peace and ecological movements in the late 1970s and early 1980s.The term was first introduced by a French feminist writer, Françoise d’Euabbone in her book ‘Le Féminisme ou la Mort’ (Feminism or death) in1974 which concretely emphasizes the interconnectedness of woman and nature inherently. Though Françoise appear to be the deviser of this terminology, it became more significant say popular only in the contexture of remonstrance and activism confronting environmental destruction and got ignited by repeated ecological and nature oriented devastations. The movement did not just pop out of some specific knowledge body at specific period in a specific area and spread, but is an ‘ancient existing wisdom’ that later originated as supportive ecological movement promoting transcending thinking in acceptance of ‘inherent value’ or ‘intrinsic value of life.

Rachel Carson, a marine biologist and naturalist integrated the movement through her works and writings that cradled against the use of synthetic pesticides in name of progression, which was actually destructive one. Carson’s book ‘Silent Spring’ counters the modern calamitous methods employed by the government in agricultural industry as a progressive support that deconstruct the intrinsic values of natural farming leading to production that is materialistic and exploitative, say imbalance created in the natural system. Thus this interconnectedness existed even before the emergence of the term itself.

Eco- Feminism doesn’t vary much from eco-centrism; the emphasis is on requirement of womanly potential in order to save the earth and conveys that discrimination and oppression based on gender, race and class are directly related to the exploitation and destruction of the environment, intrinsically connected. Maria Mies and Vandhana Shiva in their book ‘Ecofeminism’ (1993) mentions the statement made by Ynestra King in the first ecofeminist conference held at Amherst, USA on 1980,

“Eco-feminism is about connectedness and wholeness of theory and practice…………….. We are a women-identified movement and believe we have a special work to do in these imperiled times”.

This became the root statement or the seed to the fundamental ideologies and initiating source for the works of ecofeminists all over the world. Ynestra King’s discourse is that ecofeminism is a unique understanding which cannot be compartmentalized under either of these broad paces of reasoning or knowledge shifts, but an additional wave that supports the core purpose of both these embodiments of wisdom because it serves both as a ‘bio-centric’ critique for feminism and also aids ‘feministic’ perspectives for eco-centrism that is why it has a varied argumentation regarding views in several aspects. Karen J.Warren’s takes the discourse further deep in her Ecological feminism,

“What Eco feminists need to analyze are the twin dominions— dominion of nature and dominion of women, and think the dominion of colored people, children and the underclass” (Warren, 1994).

Karen not alone centers the victimized ‘biospherical ’components of nature and women, but recognizes all those marginalized, suppressed sector of ‘people’, say human or non- human and ‘others’ within the ecological system, denied of their rights, dominated by ‘androcentric’ elements as ‘oppressed’ and demands not ‘androcentric’ emancipation from nature but completely ‘biocentric‘ commitment that is, rejecting the notion that Man’s happiness depend on this ongoing process of isolation from nature and exploiting it. This is stressed in ‘deep ecology’ as ‘Biocentric or biospherical egalitarianism’, defined by Naes as “the equal right of all living things to live and blossom in an intuitively clear and obvious value axiom”. It is the belief that all biota, plants and animals, water and the land, all have equal moral worth and intrinsic value.

It is important to know that ecofeminism is an umbrella term that encompasses a plurality of ideas. It can be credited for such wide ranging concerns but it is also made it disjointed and hard to unify as a movement, even so it is useful as a feminist and environmental theory .Hence ecofeminism is an umbrella term and the storm it is resisting is ‘capitalist patriarchy’. Eco feminist believe that the larger structure of society is the system of capitalist patriarchy. if we break down the term capitalist refers to the economic system that derives profit from private production by keeping wages low enough that workers generate surplus value and patriarchy is a systematic domination of women by men through institutions and ways of thinking which assign higher value privilege and power to men. As a whole ‘capitalist patriarchy’ is the ways in which capitalism gives men control over and access to resources not given to women that results in nature as resources and women as the workers both functions as the means to a profitable end. Scholars like Vandhana Shiva and Karen Waren highlight two key facets of capitalist patriarchy first it is maintained through value hierarchical thinking which means that we organize society in hierarchies that different groups or characteristics are considered more valuable than others. Second, many of these values are organized through oppositional valued dualism these are eager or pairs that are exclusive and odd with each other. Power is organized through hierarchies and imposing dualities creating the obvious gender binary which values masculinity over femininity. Ecofeminism comes in only conceptually link different dualities to reinforce the existing tiered structure. The specific parallel is hone in on is between nature and women. Since we are living in the anthroposcene it is no shocker that in this opposing duality humans are valued among nature. Animals and plants are recognized as inferior beings with less worth and less dignity that is how we justify factory farming monoculture agriculture and any other practice that wreaks havoc on the environment.

Linguistically women are linked to nature, it is evident that we exploit ‘mother’ earth, we cut down ‘virgin’ timber and we plough ‘fertile’ soil. We feminized and naturalized women reinforcing their mutual subordination in the process. Empirically women play a predominant role in agricultural production and managing the production of house economies. Especially in the developing countries women are among the most vulnerable to drought, storms, floods and other environmental harms; it is the lives and the livelihoods women that suffers the first and suffers the most.

Ecofeminism avows the feminine side of the ecological system which is fit to extrapolate ‘life’ and ecosystem or the ‘planet’ itself through the nature and experiences as women. Women are not just participatory but are really planetary in their imagination which makes them think ‘subsistence’ that is, taking what is needed from the nature that is required for the sustenance of life which is the ‘core idea’ of ecofeminism. The biocentric ‘self- realization’, is “the replacement or subsuming of the ‘self’ by the ‘Self’” which means pacing away from ‘egoistic’, ‘anthropocentric’ path towards a self-loved phase where exists strong bond between the human and the ‘non-human’ world, that is widely vociferated in ecofeminism with respect to women’s interconnectedness with nature. So this ‘ecocentric’ “Self” becomes ‘her’ and ‘the planet’ bonded, within whom contain all the ‘human’ and ‘non-human’, ‘oppressed’ and ‘others’. In other words ‘she’ is and within the ‘system’. The very future is dependent on this process of the normal “self” realizing its interconnectedness with nature, other humans and non-humans, and becoming the eco-conscious biocentric ‘’Self”.

Indian literary realm and its myriads of literary heritage cradles many of the conventions acquainted by Deep ecology and have created ingenuous impacts in activism and fiction until ecofeminism stepped in as a spring board to venture into a new paradigm of eco critical works. It is evident that eco-feministic perspective exists in any eco critical work as it is ineludible, even if there isn’t any vociferation; there are at least few subtle thoughts visible in it.

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