“I’m Not a Feminist, But . . .”: Ecofeminism

We hear people say this all of the time, and yet they often go on to express “feminist” ideas and could identify as a feminist. There are many reasons why people distance themselves from the feminist movement. I can’t possibly explain or guess them all. But I can explain the different types of feminism according to Rosemarie Tong’s book Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction (2009). There are many types of feminism, and we know that “all feminists do not think alike” (p. 1). However, labeling different schools of thought help us to “mark the range of different approaches, perspectives, and frameworks a variety of feminists have used to shape both their explanations for women’s oppression and their proposed solutions for its elimination” (p. 1).

This series will outline and define the many feminisms. Maybe you’ll be able to identify where you agree and disagree with feminist thought.

feminist thought cover

Today’s focus is Ecofeminism. Last week, I posted on Multicultural, Global, and Postcolonial Feminism.

Tong notes that “[b]ecause women are culturally tied to nature, ecofeminists argue there are conceptual, symbolic, and linguistic connections between feminist and ecological issues” (p. 237). She reviews the significant features of this framework of domination: value-hierarchical thinking, value dualisms, and logic of domination. “Patriarchy’s hierarchical, dualistic, and oppressive mode of thinking has harmed both women and nature . . . nature is ‘feminized when ‘she’ is raped, mastered, conquered, controlled, penetrated subdued, and mined by men. . . whatever man may do to nature, he may also do to woman” (P. 238).

Ecofeminism arose from environmental concerns, which have both human-centered practices and that of deep ecology, which focuses on “a unity in diversity” (p. 241).

There are some disagreements in ecofeminism. Some want to sever the woman-nature connection, others want to reaffirm that connection and promote the value in female culture. The last group wants to transform the connection. “[U]ltimately all forms of human oppression are rooted in those dichotomous conceptual schemes that privilege one member of a dyad over another” (p. 243).

Tong reviews the ideas of Simone de Beauvoir, Sherry B. Ortner, Mary Daly, and Susan Griffin. She also highlights spiritual ecofemininsm and includes a section on Starhawk and Carol Christ. Transformative ecofeminists include Dorothy Dinnerstein and Karen J. Warren.

Permaculture is one of my favorite ideas from ecofeminist Starhawk. She explains that her garden is a place of balance. If a pest comes in, she decides to deal with it by asking what is out of balance in her garden. This is permaculture. She also relates this to foreign policy, and posits that instead of killing others, we might ask what is out of balance that creates some of our worldwide problems.

Tong recognizes global ecofeminism and sees some tension in the white man trying to get away from his urban life. He “seeks to experience a more ‘exotic’ type of nature” (p. 262). This relates to “the space known as woman’s body. It, too, is wild terrain” (p. 262).

Overall, “Because nature is an exhaustible good, we must learn to conserve it by living as simply as possible and by consuming as little as possible” (p. 264).

Next week I’ll post about Postmodern and Third-Wave Feminism.