Ecofeminism: Back to the Future
lets start chatting!, Eco-feminism starting
Mar - 02:35 am
Member No.: 79
Joined: 3-March 04
My name is Bridget Noonan and I'm going to
be the convenor of this discussion on Eco-feminism.
Unfortunatly Jo Durand is unable to participate
due to illness.
Bridget Noonan has a herstory as an environmental and human rights
activist and is one of the women who started the volunteer run
Australian Women, Earth & Change ( WEC) Network in 2001.
WEC holds yearly conferences for eco-feminist women and publishes
web based zines. Bridget has written a thesis on eco-feminist
activism while studying at UWS and is currently working in community
development in Penrith, NSW.
Eco-feminism appears to be a strand of feminism which suffers
from a PR image problem. It often conjures up images of women
dancing naked in the moonlight, women saving their menstrual
blood for their favourite indoor plant and general apolitical
activities which have little relevance to political structures.
While there is nothing wrong with a little moonlight dancing,
the strong association of eco-feminism with 1970's cultural/spiritual
feminism has lead many feminists to dismiss the insights of eco-feminism
as a whole.
Somewhere in the herstory of strongly political eco-feminist
women's movements of the 1970's and 1980's an enduring stereotype
has emerged and remained that liberal and socialist feminists
often draw on to attack eco-feminism as both a theory and a movement.
Attacks often centre around essentialism and the apparent lack
of a united movement with clear strategies for change.
When discussing eco-feminism it is important to define what type
of eco-feminism one is talking about. Now in the 21st century
there is an emerging strand of political eco-feminist theory
which has it's roots in socialism, post-colonialism, environmentalism
and which builds on the insights of second wave feminism's. This
theory is seen in the writing of women such as Vandana Shiva,
Maria Mies and Ariel Salleh. It is an eco-feminism which draws
on the spiritual insights of cultural feminism but also intergrates
socialist concerns about class, indigenous concerns about , land,
racism and colonisation, environmentalist concerns about ecological
destruction and animal abuse and womanist concerns about the
status of women and children.
Many eco-feminist's are concerned about the devaluing of what
is seen as women's labour by economic systems which revolve around
the accumulation of capital. The emphasis of capitalism on building
corporations to make huge profits for small groups of people
( usually men) is an economic culture which is at odds with the
way the majority of the world's women live.
Eco-feminist's are not reformists we do not believe that women
will be liberated through participating in greater numbers in
patriachal, capitalist institutions. The white liberal feminist
agenda of 'feminising' western corporations is clearly not addressing
the environmental destruction and economic deprivation that women
and children face in the majority of the world's countries.
Eco-feminist's make the link between the destruction of the environment
and the status of the world's women. Rather than being essentialist,
this view acknowledges the reality that the majority of the world's
women are engaged in labours that Ariel Salleh terms 'reproductive
labours', such as bearing and raising children, growing and preparing
food, looking after animals, maintaining homes, building community
and relationships. While these labours can be done by men they
often are not. Women undertaking reproductive labours rely heavily
on being able to directly access clean water, healthy housing,
fresh food and maintaining individual and family health. This
is especially true of indigenous women and women of the third
As Ynestra King says- " We believe a culture against nature is
a culture against women"
Eco-feminism like any feminism is impossible to sum up in a short
space. Feel free to post other ideas about what eco-feminism
An idea for the direction of the discussion is to explore what
are current eco-feminists doing and how does this build on what
eco-feminists have done in the past?
Mar - 10:18 pm
Member No.: 82
Joined: 6-March 04
scary that so many young people think feminism
is a shameful word.I have found that many
young people feel that women have equal rights
to men and they have nothing to complain
about - let alone trying to describe the
connection between the domination of nature
and the domination of women. On the other
hand many young women identify more with
eco-fem than other types of feminism that
can be seen to contribute to the economic
growth model - many young women feel disillusioned
with the capitalist world order and want
to go beyond it- men on the other hand find
these connections of domination impossible
to comprehend. Although i am speaking generally
it is so frustrating that these models of
domination keep perputating themselves with
men and for that matter women who deny that
any forms of gender domination still exist!
perhaps these forms of domination have become
more subtle - allowing people to feel as
though they are being freed yet being oppressed
through these denials. these are the issues
that i am battling in my personal life at
the moment. What do others think?
Mar - 08:36 pm
Member No.: 79
Joined: 3-March 04
I'm hoping others will join this discussion
too but we can have a good chat in the
meantime! I really relate to your concerns
about young women believing they are not
oppressed. It is important to identify
what social group these women belong to
in order to understand their relationship
to feminism. It seems fair to say that
young white middle class/upper class women
in australia are unlikely to have experienced
significant gender barriers to achieving
their personal education/career/social
goals. Although all women may have experienced
sexual or physical abuse as these issues
appear to cut across class/race divides.
Having a feminist analysis of gendered power abuses in our society
and across the world is something that needs to be learn't and
many young women may not have been exposed to these perspectives
in their lives. As society is stacked in favour of the status
quo most people hold onto their learn't beliefs about the nature
of society. It can be hard to espouse a feminist perspective
and some women choose to avoid 'fighting the good fight' as it
can bring stress into their life. Other women believe strongly
that women are not oppressed any more. Either way these women
appear to be expressing they do not need feminism in their lives.
This raises the issue of what do women see feminism as being?
It has so many negative connotations these days, unless you are
willing to look beyond the negative patriachal PR job that the
media has done for the past 3 decades, many women believe the
Feminism has lost it's focus and liberal mainstream feminism
has no strategy for dismantling global economic structures.It
has no comments on environmental degradation and the threat of
this to our kids. It's great that femocrats are fighting for
more childcare spaces so women can work more in paid work, but
how does the paid work we do in society contribute to the good
of all? Can we say women are equal when we are able to all work
5 full days and have affordable childcare but our lifestyle along
with men's is contributing to global warming, indigenous disposession,
de-forestation, third world poverty, wars ect ect....
I don't want my liberation to come at the expense of women who
are economically worse off then me. It makes me ashamed to be
a feminist when i read and hear some white women's understandings
of 'women's liberation'. If you are a white women in a first
world country and you don't care about the status of women of
colour, the world's indigenous people's, low income women and
kids or lesbians then you probably will think women no longer
need a movement for women's liberation.
This is why it is so important our feminism's incorporate awareness
raising about racism,classism and homophobia. The impacts of
patriachal capitalism run so deep in the lives of people who
have been colonised, controlled and shut out of paid work. We
cannot say we are feminist's and ignore these realities.
If we ignore these realities are we really being feminist?
Mar - 06:18 pm
Group: WHM Committee
Member No.: 13
Joined: 25-February 03
Eco-feminism is a somwhat new idea to me
and, when I mentioned the topic to a couple
of people recently, the typical response
was 'Oh, that's about recycling isn't it?'.
Obviously the concept is much broader and
deeper than that, so I'm interested in
your comment 'When discussing eco-feminism
it is important to define what type of
eco-feminism one is talking about'. For
a newcomer here, could you expand on the
different types of eco-feminism, how these
have evolved, and is it possible to draw
I've always been a bit of a 'greenie' by trying to grow my own
herbs, fruit and vegies, and by avoiding the use of pesticides
and chemicals in both the house and garden, if possible. I also
have an interest in alternative therapies. But I haven't seen
any of this as more than a personal attempt to conserve the environment.
So this brings me to the question of whether it's possible to
package eco-feminism in a way that makes the concept accessible
and understandable to the 'ordinary' woman.
Mar - 06:24 pm
Member No.: 79
Joined: 3-March 04
Here's some very quick crude definitions-
Different kinds of eco-feminism-
spiritual eco-feminism- coming primarily from
the view that women have a special spiritual
connection with the earth that arises from
their biology and that the root cause of western
soceities problems is that people are split
off from their spiritual connection with the
rest of the planet-eg. 'ecological self', goddess,
mother earth. Based on individual and group
empowerment/spiritual self-actualisation. This
is an essentialist position.
political eco-feminism- based in a material socialist perspective
about the kind of labour that women do in the world and the kind
of labour that capitalist patriachy devalues. women's labour
tends to be based in sustainable activities and this shapes the
consciousness of women to be more ecological.Based on changing
the economic system. This is not an essentialist position.
liberal eco-feminism (?)- not sure if this is an official title,
but it is urban women who are involved in personal reformist
environmental strategies such as recycling
and buying organic food. Based on changing the individual rather
In reality most eco-feminist women would draw on aspects of these
examples. for example I primarily come from a political eco-feminist
perspective but I also agree with aspects of spiritual eco-feminism-
eg the need for us whities to be more in touch with nature.
Can someone else post?? Lots of women are reading this and not
posting? Feel free to ramble on, ask questions, make jokes-
PARTICIPATE ( a highly eco-feminist concept)