Let’s take a moment to think about all the problems the US is facing today. We have wildfires consuming the Pacific Northwest, Montana, and California. Hurricane Harvey is flooding Texas and Hurricane Irma nearing Florida. The whole country either needs water or it has too much, and that’s only in the US. Here in Moscow, where I live, there’s so much smoke in the air that we are now at a hazardous air quality. The world has become a gray haze outside my windows. I can’t enjoy the breeze at night or else I risk waking up in a cloud of smoke and hurting my cat’s lungs.
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.
As many of you know, I wrote for the blog last semester, and I loved it so much I decided to come back. If you don’t know who I am, let me introduce myself a little better. I am currently a sophomore at the University of Idaho studying Journalism and Environmental Science. I play on the Quidditch team and in my spare time, I like to knit and crochet, I have a passion for reading, and I whole heartedly enjoy watching shitty horror movies, especially with vampires. My other passions include Trevor Noah’s stand up and caffeine.
I lived most of my life in Caldwell, Idaho, but a few years ago I moved to Colville, Washington, and I have found a second home in Washington. It was there that I found my love for the outdoors and the environment.
This summer I got the wonderful opportunity to work in the technician field studying Western Grebes. Grebes are a water bird that lives in Mexico, Canada, and the United States. For this project, we spent the summer in Cascade, Idaho watching the grebes on Lake Cascade. I was part of a program here at the University of Idaho, called the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program, that is in other schools like the University of Florida, University of Arizona, Cornell, and North Carolina State. I made so many friends, and I really loved what I did this summer.
I take a special interest in women’s issues because, I am in fact a woman. And even though I come from a place of privilege, I believe that every woman deserves a chance to be heard. And still, I believe that I do not have much experience with some issues. I will try my best to not mess things up. But if I do make a mistake, please let me know; I am still learning. I want to expand my views and fully understand a topic.
I want to talk a little about what I would like to cover this upcoming semester. I want to explore the ecofeminism idea that I wrote about last semester a little more and a few other things that come into my head. This semester I want to explore the many faces of feminism and how it doesn’t have to be about just the normally talked about issues. Feminism is a diverse topic, and I feel that sometimes we forget that feminism can cover many different things.
I am an eco, Marxist, intersectional, radical, dirt-loving feminist. This week, all of the writers for the blog were asked to define what feminism means to them. I find this challenging because it is so open ended. Everyone who has interacted with feminism defines it differently. Different generations have widely different collective notions of feminism. My mom’s generation thought feminism was playing the game like the men do, rather than dismantling the underlying power structures. Ultimately, feminism is equality, acceptance, understanding, and love for yourself and for others.
Indian society has a deeply rooted preference for sons. In recent years, incidents of gender-based violence such as the New Delhi gang rape have proven that strong women speaking out could be most beneficial now more than ever. Women are generally regarded by Indian society as weak and submissive, and treated unfairly without any claim to equality under the law. Misogyny, or the dislike, hatred, mistrust of women, or prejudice against women, is deeply woven throughout India’s history and culture, so much that it is seen as a part of life. The article Misogyny in India: We Are All Guilty describes how violence against women is often minimized:
“The Hindi phrase most commonly used to describe sexual violence or rape against women is “izzat lootna,” which means, “to steal the honor of.” Why should a rapist be given so much credit? Rape is a criminal act of force and perverse subjugation. When a woman is raped, her most fundamental rights as a human being are violated.”
Tall leather boots crunch along the littering of acorns scattered across sidewalks, and coffee houses everywhere have stocked cabinets full of pumpkin-flavored syrups in anticipation of a cold northern winter. The creeks nearly hold still, reflecting a coral-hued rainbow of a million leaves soaking up their last minutes of sun.
For some, it’s time to romanticize the beauty of fall (ta-da!). For me and my husband, it’s officially time to hunt deer and restock our freezers.
While feminism and hunting may not immediately appear compatible, it’s important to question why anyone should wish to confine hunting to a singularly masculine expression in conflict with the values of femininity/feminism. There is no conflict. Femininity is identifying as female in whatever you’re doing, and thanks to feminism, women don’t need to worry that they’re ‘sacrificing femininity’ by broadening their experiences and entering unfamiliar territory. For me and these very interesting women, that includes hunting.
Feminism, as an application, benefits everyone in any situation. Feminism belongs everywhere because of its power to examine, to balance, to include, and to improve life on earth. Life which is not a uniquely human experience. In fact, many of us regularly eat things that previously were alive.
Ever eaten a hamburger? Do you like chicken fettuccine? Will you prefer ham or turkey for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner? Each of these meals is sourced from a furry or feathered animal friend, the kind I sometimes like to eat. But instead of ignoring this truth — that death is sad but we still like meatballs with our spaghetti — I prefer to care about it and do what I can to ensure the food I eat came from an animal that enjoyed a healthy, natural life and was killed in a respectful, ethical manner.
Before this year’s season opened, I did some scouting and got permission to hunt on private land not too far from town. After getting my scope mounted, I went with a couple friends to sight in my Browning X-Bolt 270 (a lightweight rife) because accurate aim is essentially important for ethical hunting. No animal should suffer because of an incompetent shot and no hunter should risk losing and wasting an animal because of a poorly sighted gun scope.
Also, no poaching. Always get permission for private land and always keep the deer tag in a pocket.
When opening day arrived, the first thing I did was rummage through the closet. Now, one strong controversy among women hunters is wardrobe; will it be the green camouflage or the pink camouflage?
I do not appreciate the commercial look of camouflage, and the gratuitous marketing of pink camouflage as a signifier of feminine-appropriateness is especially insulting. Pink is often used to mark women as the ‘other’ and if you don’t want to look like a big bottle of Pepto-Bismol then it just makes more sense to focus on the fabric quality for warmth and durability. I recommend visiting a good thrift or consignment shop and finding a pair of quality wool pants and a variety of cotton and wool tops for layering.
My favorite wool pants are Gap brand and were purchased for $10 at a consignment shop, and as I belly-crawled up a rough, freshly cut wheat hill on Friday afternoon, I appreciated the comfortable silk-lining inside my sturdy, stylish wool pants.
Belly-crawling several hundred yards up a hill with a rifle resting in both hands is not a fast method of travel, and when we finally made it to a low clump of dry grass at the top we were a little winded. We lay about 200 yards down wind from a herd of white tail deer slowly moving right to left across the next hill toward tree cover. Feeling excited and anxious, I raised up the scope to look the herd over for a clean shot.
This is where ethics come in again, because if it doesn’t feel right I won’t pull the trigger. I look for a large-bodied, healthy deer who is not caring for a fawn, then I wait for a clear shot without obstruction, without risk to surrounding deer and without directional complications like roads or houses.
I’ve noticed the men I hunt with get very excited about antlers, and their view is ‘bigger is better.’ I don’t feel that way. It’s not much of an issue for deer fattened up on wheat and bean crops, but the problem I have with trophy big game — like a 7-point elk — is the poor-tasting meat. A year’s worth of ‘gamey’ meat is enough to deter me from wanting any set of trophy antlers off an animal. And as for the specifics on antlers and record trophy animals, I couldn’t tell you because I have no interest in it. I’m belly-crawling for sustainable, ethically sourced, organic, local meat. Not a hat rack.
The final thrill of hunting is the collaboration and celebration that makes it so grand. It’s incredibly satisfying to meet up with old friends and share a wonderfully big dinner the night before an opening hunt, when we stay up so late that only a few of us can get up after the alarm clocks ring the next morning (an old trick to get the field to yourself). I never feel more human than when I’m sharing the harvest with comrades, and toasting our success.