Conservation and Feminism: Not Mutually Exclusive?

A photo of the Earth from space, a large blue marble on a black background
                      A picture of the Earth from Apollo 17

By Kali Nelson

Last semester I wrote a post about Ecofeminism. It was tied to the idea that women and nature are linked and that for women to be free, nature must also be free. Today I wantto go more in depth with that idea.

Where did Ecofeminism come from?

Ecofeminism came into its modern state in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s in an academic setting. Ecofeminism could be found mostly in the academic world for most of the seventies and then in the eighties, ecofeminism became for prevalent outside of the academic world. It is very popular in India, where the Chipko movement exists, this movement was for the protection of forests against deforestation. The term was coined in 1974 by French feminist Françoise d’Eaubonne and combines the ideas of gender equality, of nonpatriarchal and nonlinear structures, and of the world that respects organic processes.

The main book that I used as a base for much of my last post was called Healing the Wounds: The Promise of Ecofeminism which is a collection of essays edited by Judith Plant. It was published in 1989. There are more recently published books on this subject, the most recent one I can find being published in 2014. Although I am very certain that there are more recent books.

Why be an Ecofeminist?

In short, one reason to be an ecofeminist is that it helps you multitask. We can fight for the planet and for feminist ideas! Fighting climate change can help billions of people; It will allow species to hopefully rebound, temperatures could lower, and habitat will grow for species so that they can spread out. It also means that we have a healthy planet to continue living on and fighting for.

Over one billion men, women, and children live on a dollar or less a day.  You can’t tell me this isn’t a feminist issue because women and girls must walk miles to find water and firewood. They suffer from diseases; They forgo school to help make ends meet. Now, this is a feminist issue because it involves people. There are girls who are forced to quit school so that they can help at home and women who suffer abuse or poor living conditions and cannot leave because they would have nothing and nowhere to go. But this is also a conservation issue. These women must provide for their families, they need the resources available nearby. The growing world population causes the need for more farmland causing, deforestation, erosion of valuable topsoil and loss of habitat for native plants and animals.

Famous Ecofeminists

Now, you may be wondering, well who are ecofeminists? If you are like me, you’ve never heard of any of these people. So, if you want to get familiar with ecofeminist writers and their work here are a few. There are many more people on this list than I am going to talk about.

Photograph of Vandana Shiva
Vandana Shiva, renowned     ecofeminist

Vandana Shiva- Shiva is an Indian environmental activist and anti-globalization author. She is based in Delhi and has written more than 20 books.

Carol Adams- Adams is an American feminist, writer, and activist. She has written several books.

Starhawk- An American theorist of feminist neopaganism and ecofeminism. She contributes to and OnFaith.

But Kali, there are more important things that the environment to be worried about. Shouldn’t we worry about them first?

While to some people the environment is not that high on their priority list of things try to save, think about it like this: Without a decent, healthy environment how do you plan to keep doing what you’re doing? We need the environment to be healthy for us to continue living. Plus, I learned this summer that it is not my job to save the world. That means that even though there are more pressing matters in the world (according to some), I am going to focus on the environment. I cannot do everything; It’s impossible. All you will get at the end of the day is a big pile of burnout. I avoid it by sticking to one thing to be an activist for. I stick mainly to the environment.

What do I do about it?

The problems of this world seem overwhelming at times. There are so many different things that we could be protesting at any given moment. With the current administration trying to take down the Environmental Protection Agency, we need to make our voices heard about the issues that matter to us. To act against this, write or call your congressmen and women at both local, state, and federal level. Attend protest if you’re able, read news articles about the issues, and talk to friends and family about it if you can. Find out the issues pertinent to your state.  Do your research and remember to vote.

Remember that activism doesn’t have to be done for hours and take up all your time.  It could be as simple as writing a blog about these issues and sharing it on Facebook. It could be a post on Facebook if that’s what you want to do. Activism can be conversations you have with your family and friends about these issues. Just remember, we only have one planet and it needs you!

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