Ecofeminism is just one of the many different schools of feminism that have arisen in today’s world.
Ecofeminists believe that there is a very significant link between the exploitation and abuse of women and of the environment. Their theories go on to say that women and nature are intrinsically linked, and that that is one of the reasons why their suffering has been simultaneous at the hands of men.
The reasoning behind the existence of a special link between women and nature is a simple one – many of the values traditionally associated with women are the same as those associated with nature; harmonious co-existence, warm nurturing and cooperation and several other virtues they perceive to be present in both parties.
To further their exploration of this special bond, ecofeminists very often show relations between menstrual & and lunar cycles. Sometimes they also cite the almost universal depiction of creation as child-birth of some kind; it has been thought so in many different religions and civilizations.
They also strongly highlight the fact that women and nature have both been victims to the patriarchal society that supposedly dominates modern civilization.
The term “ecofeminism” was probably coined by French feminist Françoise d’Eaubonne in her 1974 book “Le Feminisme Ou la Mort”, or “Feminism or Death”. However, the roots of the philosophy go back much farther than that.
As early as he 19th century, women were heavily involved in efforts to protect natural resources such as air and water from the terrible effects of the Industrial Revolution. In fact, several prominent ecofeminists believe that the root of their school of thought lies not in feminism, but rather in these pro-environmental movements. Women of different classes and races were uniting to protect the environment, and that may have been a greater catalyst for the creation of the movement than the need to topple the “reign” of man.
In fact, that is one of the ideas that is most upheld by ecofeminists – as opposed to other feminist groups in those days, they have always stressed unity regardless of race, class or creed. They want to create a comprehensive unit of women who are ready to take on the establishment in order to protect women and the environment. Hence, they accommodate many marginalized feminist groups in their ranks.
The movement only really became an organized one towards the end of the 20th century, when women like Susan Griffin and Mary Daly wrote texts such as “Women & Nature” and “Gyn/Ecology” to highlight and outline the links they believe to exist between women and nature, and their simultaneous domination.
Rallies were held that combined anti-nuclear warfare movements (that’d hurt the environment) and to protect women caught in the middle of armed conflict around the globe. Very quickly, the movement spread like wildfire and as more and more women joined it, it began to address many more issue such as the dumping of toxic waste, racism and class divisions.
However, in the 1990s, the movement took a major hit.
Some feminists began to argue that ecofeminists had equated women with nature, thereby granting women a deity-like worldly value. Essentially, the group claimed that women were a force of nature, or, if the thought is expanded, goddesses.
Of course, the ecofeminists disputed this argument and they were correct to point out that none of their ideologies explicitly pointed that out. But the damage had been done and ecofeminism was dismissed by some people as a neo-pagan culture that challenged religion.
This was further seized upon by groups criticizing them, and many anti-feminist groups began to point out that since ecofeminists had drawn such clear lines between women and nature, they believed that men were inferior to them. This was probably the single biggest critique that a feminist group could receive because it pretty much reduced them to a group of angry women who wanted to take down men.
A lot of their sound analyses on animal and human rights were flushed down the toilet along with their public image, and they had to start building up people’s trusts again.
Even other feminists groups took swipes at them, because of a clash in their desires.
Whilst classical feminism seeks to grant women positions of power in the military, government and intelligence, ecofeminists seek to dismantle these very institutions as they believe them to be the ones that have caused the socio-environmental problems we face today. In that sense, ecofeminists and anarcha-feminists are not too different.
Ecofeminists often claim that the Western patriarchal civilization is based on simple, two-pronged logic, in order to force people to pick sides and thus oppose the other side. For example, culture or nature, men or women, mind or body. These are just some of the areas in which ecofeminists believe the human race has been forced to choose, when it should be a much more complex choice. Ecofeminists further believe that a large part of religion and science were male-developed constructs intended to make these choices seem intelligent, final and absolute.
Ecofeminists are big believers in the de-medicalization of childbirth on the basis that it has been made devoid of the natural and feminine beauty of the moment in order to be dissected under the watchful eye of the patriarchal society.
Ecofeminists have oft been misunderstood, but most of their intentions are very good and they’re one of the few feminist groups that have ever shown an interest in the well-being of the planet they live in.