Social Theory



what we know about it? And how much?

Nazanin Nadi

Ecofeminism is a philosophical and social movement that combines elements of environmentalism and feminism. It views the domination of nature and the exploitation of women as interconnected, and seeks to address both issues through a holistic approach. Ecofeminism recognizes that the oppression of women and the exploitation of nature are rooted in systems of power that prioritize the interests of a privileged few over the well-being of the majority. It seeks to challenge these systems of power and promote a more equitable and sustainable world.

Ecofeminism takes a holistic approach to social and ecological issues, recognizing the interconnectedness of all things. It sees the domination of nature and the exploitation of women as interconnected issues that must be addressed together. Ecofeminism argues that the patriarchal mindset that views nature and women as passive and subordinate is responsible for both the oppression of women and the destruction of the environment.

Ecofeminist theory recognizes that people experience the natural world in different ways based on their social identities — such as race, class, gender, and sexuality — and that these identities shape our relationship to the environment. For example, women, people of color, and indigenous communities are often more directly impacted by environmental degradation and climate change, as they are more likely to live in areas that are vulnerable to pollution, environmental disasters, and resource depletion.

Ecofeminism seeks to challenge and subvert patriarchal systems by promoting a more equitable, sustainable, and just world. It does this through a variety of means, including activism, education, and advocacy. Ecofeminists work to raise awareness about the links between women’s oppression and environmental degradation, and to promote policies and practices that promote social and ecological justice. They also work to challenge oppressive gender norms and to empower women and marginalized communities to take an active role in creating a more just and sustainable world.

_One of the key ideas of ecofeminism is the recognition of the interconnectedness of social and ecological issues. Ecofeminists argue that the oppression of women and the exploitation of nature are both symptoms of a larger problem: a patriarchal system that values domination and control over cooperation and interdependence.

Ecofeminists also highlight the ways in which the exploitation of nature and the oppression of women intersect. For example, they point out that in many societies, women are often responsible for subsistence activities such as farming, gathering firewood, and fetching water – activities that are intimately connected to the natural world. When the environment is degraded or destroyed, women often bear the brunt of the consequences, as they are the ones who are responsible for providing food, water, and other essential resources for their families.

Ecofeminists also argue that the language and imagery that we use to describe nature and women are often highly gendered and reinforce patriarchal norms. For example, nature is often described in terms of “virgin” or “mother,” while women are often described in terms of their reproductive capacities. This language reinforces the idea that women are meant to be passive and submissive, and that nature is something to be conquered and dominated.

Ecofeminism seeks to challenge these patriarchal norms and promote a more sustainable and equitable world. It does this through a variety of means, including activism, education, and advocacy.

It also emphasizes the importance of recognizing the interconnections between social, ecological, and economic systems, and the need for systemic change to address the complex challenges facing our planet.

Now let me tell you about its history, how has it changed from the first days of its creation to today and what changes have it had?

_The roots of ecofeminism can be traced back to the 1970s, when feminist activists and environmentalists began to recognize the connections between the oppression of women and the destruction of the environment. In 1974, Françoise d’Eaubonne, a French feminist, coined the term “ecofeminism” in her book “Le Féminisme ou la Mort” (“Feminism or Death”), in which she argued that the domination of women and the destruction of nature are both symptoms of a larger problem.

In the 1980s, ecofeminism gained momentum as a social and political movement. Ecofeminist activists and scholars began to explore the links between women’s oppression, environmental degradation, and other forms of social injustice. They argued that the patriarchal mindset that views nature and women as passive and subordinate is responsible for both the oppression of women and the destruction of the environment.

Over the years, ecofeminism has evolved and diversified, with different schools of thought and approaches emerging. Some ecofeminists focus on the links between environmental degradation and women’s health, while others are more concerned with the intersection of race, class, and gender in relation to environmental justice. Still others focus on the links between animal rights and ecofeminism, arguing that the exploitation of animals is also connected to the exploitation of women and nature.

Today, ecofeminism continues to be a vibrant and active movement, with ecofeminist activists and scholars working to promote a more just and sustainable world. Ecofeminists are involved in a wide range of activities, from grassroots organizing and direct action to academic research and policy advocacy. Some of the recent changes in ecofeminism include a greater emphasis on intersectionality, or the recognition that different forms of oppression are interconnected and cannot be addressed in isolation. There has also been a growing recognition of the importance of indigenous knowledge and perspectives in shaping ecofeminist theory and practice.

And i think you are as curious as I am when I was doing my researches among this topic and its large and vibrant subset, what men did when they face with this movement in the very first time and what other ecofeminists think about the situation?

_The role of men in ecofeminism has evolved over time, as the movement has grown and diversified. In the early days of ecofeminism, men were often seen as part of the problem, as they were seen as the primary beneficiaries of patriarchal systems that prioritize domination and control over cooperation and interdependence.

However, over time, many ecofeminists have come to recognize that men can also be part of the solution. Some have argued that men need to be involved in the movement in order to challenge and subvert patriarchal systems from within. Others have emphasized the importance of building alliances between men and women to promote social and ecological justice.

Today, there are many men who identify as ecofeminists and who are actively involved in the movement. These men recognize the ways in which patriarchal systems harm both women and the environment, and they seek to challenge and subvert these systems in order to promote a more just and sustainable world. Some men who identify as ecofeminists work to challenge oppressive gender norms and promote more equitable and sustainable ways of living, while others work to create spaces for dialogue and collaboration between men and women in the movement.

Overall, the role of men in ecofeminism has evolved as the movement has grown and diversified. While men were initially seen as part of the problem, many ecofeminists now recognize the importance of men’s involvement in the movement in order to challenge and subvert patriarchal systems from within.

Here are a list of great and well-known male ecofeminists who played a significant role in developing the movement:

  1. John Seed – An Australian environmental activist and founder of the Rainforest Information Centre, John Seed is known for his work in developing the concept of “deep ecology,” which emphasizes the interconnectedness of all living things and the need for a fundamental shift in human values and attitudes towards the environment.
  2. Satish Kumar – An Indian-born British activist and writer, Satish Kumar is a proponent of “holistic education” and sustainable living. He is the founder of Schumacher College, an international center for ecological studies, and the editor of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine.
  3. Leonardo Boff – A Brazilian theologian and philosopher, Leonardo Boff has written extensively on the links between social and ecological justice. He is a proponent of “Liberation Theology,” a Christian movement that emphasizes the importance of social justice and the need for a more equitable distribution of resources.
  4. Ted Trainer – An Australian philosopher and activist, Ted Trainer is a proponent of “The Simpler Way,” a lifestyle that emphasizes voluntary simplicity, self-sufficiency, and community-based living. He has been involved in the development of intentional communities and other alternative living arrangements.
  5. And finally, Paul Hawken, an American environmentalist and entrepreneur, has also made significant contributions to ecofeminism. Hawken is the author of several books on environmental and social justice, including “Blessed Unrest” and “Drawdown.” He has also been involved in the creation of several organizations that promote sustainability and social justice, including Project Drawdown, a coalition of researchers and experts working to identify and implement solutions to global warming.

These are just a few examples of the many men who have made significant contributions to ecofeminism over the years. Overall, the involvement of men in the ecofeminist movement has been an important factor in promoting social and ecological justice and challenging patriarchal systems.

Let’s get back to the principle of the case:

Ecofeminists argue that the language and imagery we use to describe nature and women reflect and reinforce patriarchal norms, which prioritize domination and control over cooperation and interdependence. When we describe nature in terms of “virgin” or “mother,” for example, we are using gendered language that reinforces the idea that nature is something to be conquered and controlled by men. Similarly, when women are described in terms of their reproductive capacities, it reinforces the idea that their value is solely tied to their ability to bear children, rather than their full range of abilities and contributions to society.

By highlighting these gendered language and imagery, ecofeminists aim to challenge and subvert the patriarchal systems that perpetuate the oppression of women and the exploitation of nature. They seek to promote a more holistic and interconnected view of the world, one that recognizes the value and importance of cooperation, interdependence, and sustainability. In short, ecofeminists want to create a world where both women and nature are valued and respected for their inherent worth, rather than their utility to those in power.

“Patriarchy” refers to a social system in which men hold primary power and authority over women and other marginalized groups. Patriarchal systems are characterized by a hierarchy where men are seen as the dominant group and women are seen as subordinate. In such systems, men have historically held positions of power and authority, including political power, economic power, and social power.

Patriarchal systems have been present in many societies throughout history, and they continue to exist in various forms today. These systems are often based on traditional gender roles and norms, which prescribe certain behaviors and expectations for men and women. For example, men are often expected to be strong, aggressive, and competitive, while women are expected to be nurturing, submissive, and emotional. These gender roles are reinforced through socialization, media, and other cultural institutions.

Patriarchal systems can have negative effects on both women and men. For women, patriarchal systems can lead to discrimination, oppression, and violence. Women may be denied access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities, and they may face harassment, assault, and discrimination in the workplace and in public spaces. Men, on the other hand, may be pressured to conform to rigid gender norms and may face societal expectations to be dominant, aggressive, and emotionally reserved, which can negatively impact their mental health and well-being.

Overall, ecofeminists argue that patriarchal systems are harmful to both men and woman, and environment, all together.

There are several ways that ecofeminist politics can center the experiences and knowledge of women:

  1. Acknowledge and value women’s traditional ecological knowledge: Women have traditionally played key roles in agriculture, food production, and the management of natural resources. Ecofeminist politics can recognize and value this knowledge, and involve women in decision-making processes related to environmental issues.
  2. Encourage women’s participation in environmental activism: Women have been at the forefront of many environmental movements, but their contributions have not always been recognized or valued. Ecofeminist politics can create spaces for women to participate and lead in environmental activism, and prioritize the voices and experiences of women in these movements.
  3. Address the gendered impacts of environmental issues: Environmental issues often affect women in different ways than men, due to social and economic inequalities. Ecofeminist politics can take these gendered impacts into account and develop solutions that address the specific needs and concerns of women.
  4. Challenge patriarchal power structures: Patriarchal power structures often marginalize and silence women’s voices in environmental decision-making processes. Ecofeminist politics can challenge these power structures and create more inclusive and equitable systems that prioritize the experiences and knowledge of women.

After all, centering the experiences and knowledge of women in ecofeminist politics requires a commitment to gender justice and a recognition of the interconnectedness of gender, nature, and power. It involves valuing women’s contributions to environmental issues and creating spaces for their participation and leadership in environmental activism and decision-making processes.

And what about its key concepts?

Here are some key concepts of ecofeminism:

  1. Intersectionality: Ecofeminism recognizes the interconnectedness of different forms of oppression, including sexism, racism, classism, and environmental destruction. It argues that these forms of oppression are interrelated and must be addressed together.
  2. Patriarchy: Ecofeminism identifies patriarchal systems of power and domination as the root cause of both the oppression of women and the exploitation of nature. Patriarchy values domination, control, and exploitation, and ecofeminism seeks to challenge and transform these values.
  3. Nature/Culture Dualism: Ecofeminism challenges the idea that nature and culture are separate and distinct, and instead emphasizes the interdependence and interconnectedness of all living beings. It argues that the domination of nature is linked to the domination of women, and that both must be addressed in order to create a more just and sustainable world.
  4. Care and Nurturing: Ecofeminism values care, nurturing, and relationships, and seeks to create a more compassionate and sustainable world by prioritizing these values over profit, competition, and individualism.
  5. Environmental Justice: Ecofeminism advocates for environmental justice, which means ensuring that all people have equal access to clean air, water, and land, and that no one is disproportionately burdened by environmental harms. This includes addressing the ways in which environmental degradation and pollution disproportionately affect marginalized communities and women.

These are just a few of the key concepts of ecofeminism. It is a complex and diverse movement with many different perspectives and approaches, but these ideas are central to many ecofeminist theories and practices.

Well what types of works this movement do for environmental policy and justice and how they did it?

Ecofeminism has influenced environmental policy and activism in a number of ways. Here are a few examples:

  1. Environmental Justice: One of the key contributions of ecofeminism to environmental policy and activism has been the concept of environmental justice. Ecofeminists have highlighted the ways in which environmental degradation and pollution disproportionately affect marginalized communities and women, and have called for policies that address these inequities. This has led to the development of environmental justice movements and policies that seek to address the unequal distribution of environmental benefits and burdens.
  2. Sustainability: Ecofeminism has also contributed to the development of sustainability policies and practices. By emphasizing the interdependence of human and non-human life, ecofeminists have argued that environmental sustainability requires a shift away from the dominant paradigm of economic growth and resource extraction towards more sustainable ways of living and interacting with the natural world.
  3. Community-based activism: Ecofeminist activism often takes a community-based approach, emphasizing the importance of local knowledge and community involvement in environmental decision-making. This approach has been influential in the development of grassroots environmental movements and policies that prioritize community involvement and empowerment.
  4. Critique of traditional environmentalism: Ecofeminism has also challenged traditional environmentalism, which has often been criticized for its narrow focus on conservation and preservation, and its failure to address issues of social justice and equity. By highlighting the interconnections between social and environmental issues, ecofeminism has contributed to a more holistic and inclusive approach to environmental policy and activism.

Overall, ecofeminism has played an important role in shaping environmental policy and activism, by highlighting the interconnectedness of social and environmental issues, and advocating for policies and practices that prioritize justice, sustainability, and community involvement.

Do you remember we talked about the position of male ecofeminists?

Here are a few book recommendations to get involve with their works more:

Let’s dive in it a little bit deeper:

  1. “Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis” by Chris Williams – This book explores the links between capitalism, ecology, and social justice, and argues that ecofeminism offers a valuable perspective on these issues.
  2. “Beyond the Male Gaze: Women, Animals, and Resistance in the Ecological Age” by Anthony Nocella II – This book examines the connections between women’s oppression, animal rights, and environmental degradation, and argues that ecofeminism offers a powerful framework for resistance and transformation.
  3. “The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable” by Amitav Ghosh – This book explores the cultural and political dimensions of climate change, and argues that the Western cultural tradition has failed to adequately address the environmental crisis. Ghosh draws on ecofeminist perspectives to offer a critique of the dominant cultural narratives around climate change.
  4. “The Ecology of Wisdom: Writings by Arne Naess” edited by Alan Drengson and Bill Devall – This book collects the writings of Arne Naess, a Norwegian philosopher and ecologist who was a pioneer in the development of deep ecology. Naess’ work draws on ecofeminist perspectives to offer a radical critique of industrial society and a vision of a more sustainable and just world.

I talked about a philosophical and socio/political movement, and i can bet you want to know more how does these social activists worked to get attention to this movement and how did they got credibility for that.

there are many examples of ecofeminist-led environmental policies and movements. Let’s know about them more:

  1. The Chipko Movement: The Chipko Movement was a forest conservation movement in India that began in the 1970s. The movement was started by women from the rural communities of Uttarakhand who were concerned about the deforestation of their region. The women used a tactic of hugging trees to prevent them from being cut down, which brought attention to the issue and ultimately led to a ban on commercial logging in the region.
  2. The Green Belt Movement: The Green Belt Movement was founded by Kenyan environmental activist Wangari Maathai in 1977. The movement focused on reforestation, environmental conservation, and women’s empowerment through tree planting and other sustainable practices. The movement has planted over 50 million trees in Kenya and inspired similar initiatives in other countries.
  3. The Navdanya Movement: The Navdanya Movement is an Indian organization founded by ecofeminist Vandana Shiva that focuses on biodiversity conservation, organic farming, and the rights of farmers. The organization promotes seed sovereignty and sustainable agriculture practices as a way to address issues of food security and environmental degradation.
  4. The Women’s Earth Alliance: The Women’s Earth Alliance is a global organization that focuses on empowering women to address environmental issues in their communities. The organization provides training and resources to women leaders in areas such as water conservation, renewable energy, and sustainable agriculture.
  5. Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO): WEDO is a global organization that advocates for the rights of women in sustainable development. They work to empower women to participate in decision-making processes related to environmental issues.
  6. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe: The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota, USA, led a movement to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatened their water supply and sacred sites. Women played a prominent role in the movement, organizing marches, rallies, and prayer ceremonies, and ultimately, the pipeline was stopped.

These are just a few examples of ecofeminist-led environmental policies and movements. There are many more initiatives around the world that incorporate ecofeminist principles and practices in their work towards environmental sustainability and social justice.

So what about the women part of significant ecofeminists?

Here are some notable ecofeminists and their works:

  1. Vandana Shiva: Vandana Shiva is an Indian scholar, environmental activist, and author. Her notable works include “Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development” (1988), “Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge” (1997), and “Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace” (2005).
  2. Maria Mies: Maria Mies is a German feminist scholar and activist. Her notable works include “Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labour” (1986), “Ecofeminism” (1993), and “The Subsistence Perspective: Beyond the Globalised Economy” (2015).
  3. Karen Warren: Karen Warren is an American philosopher and ecofeminist. Her notable works include “Ecological Feminism” (1994), “Ecofeminist Philosophy” (2000), and “Earth-Centered Ethics: The Case for Moral Pluralism” (2015).
  4. Greta Gaard: Greta Gaard is an American ecofeminist scholar and activist. Her notable works include “Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, Nature” (1993), “Ecological Politics: Ecofeminists and the Greens” (1998), and “The Nature of Home: Taking Root in a Place” (2007).
  5. Wangari Maathai: Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan environmental activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Her notable works include “Unbowed: A Memoir” (2006), “The Challenge for Africa” (2009), and “The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience” (2003).

These are just a few examples of the many ecofeminists and their works. Ecofeminism is a diverse and multifaceted movement, and there are many more scholars, activists, and writers who have contributed to its development and practice.

And we have a great list of some recent essays published between the years of 2020 to 2022:

  1. “Ecofeminism Revisited: Rejecting Essentialism and Re-Placing Species in a Material Feminist Environmentalism” by Heather Eaton. This essay, published in 2020, explores the evolution of ecofeminism and argues for a materialist approach that emphasizes the interconnections between humans and non-human beings.
  2. “Ecofeminism and the COVID-19 Pandemic” by Ariel Salleh. This essay, published in 2021, argues that the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for a more holistic and equitable approach to environmental policy and activism, and explores the ways in which ecofeminist principles can inform this approach.
  3. “Ecofeminism and the Anthropocene: Toward a Feminist Environmentalism of the Global South” by Julieta Paredes. This essay, published in 2021, explores the relationship between ecofeminism and the Anthropocene, and argues for a feminist environmentalism that is rooted in the experiences and perspectives of the Global South.
  4. “Intersectional Ecofeminism: A Framework for Environmental Justice Advocacy” by Kristin M. Reynolds and Amber Moulton. This essay, published in 2022, explores the importance of intersectionality in ecofeminist approaches to environmental justice, and offers a framework for advocacy that addresses the interconnections between race, gender, and the environment.
  5. “Ecofeminism and Climate Justice: Reflections on Development, Gender, and Sustainability” by Giovanna Di Chiro. This article, originally published in 2019 but reissued with a new introduction in 2020, examines the intersection of ecofeminism, climate justice, and sustainability, and argues for a more inclusive and intersectional approach to environmental policy and activism.

These are just a few examples of recent essays on ecofeminism. There are many more resources available, and I encourage you to explore further if you are interested in this topic.

And the very last question needs to be answered:

“How can i get involved with the Ecofeminist organisations?”

Getting involved in ecofeminist organizations can be a great way to connect with others who share your interests and values, and to contribute to environmental and social justice efforts. Here are some steps you can take to get involved:

  1. Research ecofeminist organizations: Start by doing some research to identify ecofeminist organizations in your area or online. Some organizations may focus on specific issues, such as climate justice or sustainable agriculture, while others may have a broader focus on ecofeminism as a whole. You can use search engines or social media platforms to find organizations, or you can check with local environmental or feminist groups to see if they have any ecofeminist initiatives.
  2. Attend events and meetings: Many ecofeminist organizations hold events and meetings that are open to the public. Attending these events can be a great way to learn more about the organization and its work, meet other members, and see if it’s a good fit for you. Look for events like workshops, lectures, or community actions that align with your interests and schedule.
  3. Volunteer: Ecofeminist organizations often rely on volunteers to help with their programs and events. Volunteering can be a great way to get involved, meet new people, and gain experience in environmental and social justice work. Look for opportunities to volunteer on the organization’s website or social media pages, or reach out to the organization directly to see how you can help.
  4. Join or start a local chapter: If there isn’t an ecofeminist organization in your area, consider starting one yourself or joining with others to form a local chapter. This can be a great way to build community and take action on the issues that matter to you. Look for resources and support from national or international ecofeminist organizations or other environmental and feminist groups.

Remember, getting involved in ecofeminist organizations doesn’t always have to be formal or structured. You can also make a difference in your own life by incorporating ecofeminist principles into your daily habits and routines, and by advocating for environmental and social justice in your community.

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