OPINION: Saving the planet includes feminism


A tree stands Jan. 12 near the Jordan River. Ecofeminism became popular in the '70s when women started referring to nature as being female. Izzy Myszak

We are living in an age where the climate is in crisis, yet many world leaders are ignoring the problem. Communities are suffering and yet our society is entirely consumption based. The focus is on gaining capital rather than helping those in need.

Humanity and nature are not seen as one. Environmental sustainability is viewed as a separate issue to many or something that can be dealt with later when it’s likely too late for many. According to the International Panel on Climate Change, carbon emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030. In our efforts toward environmental sustainability, ecofeminism becomes an essential tool.

Ecofeminism became popular in the 1970s when feminists began gendering nature as “woman.” Their original arguments for ecofeminism are slightly bio-essentialist, meaning they see an individual's personality traits as dependent on their biological gender (one of the main points being that women are born more nurturing than men). But the overall argument that environmental efforts must be inclusive of all women and other genders is extremely important in environmental activism.

Many Western societies and religions enforce a dichotomy of “man vs. wild” where the wilderness is something humanity must tame for it to be deemed usable or acceptable. This dichotomy is causing much of the problem in our mindset regarding the environment — nature is not something to coexist with, rather something to conquer and exploit for resources.

Even corporations pushing “green initiatives” are simply looking to create cleaner technology rather than considering overconsumption and the belief that humans rule the land as the flaw. This is inherently a patriarchal concept — seeking to control and conform. Here’s where ecofeminism comes in.

First, ecofeminism must be intersectional: poor, indigenous and already exploited communities see the first of the environmental effects. A couple of examples are Kiribati (islands disappearing due to rising tides) and hunting seasons in the arctic shortening for indigenous communities. Therefore, the needs of all women and non-binary people all around the world must be taken into account.

Ecofeminism must be against the idea of overpopulation — if resources were truly distributed equally we would likely not have world hunger, so therefore ecofeminism and socialism must coexist. We must depart from the mindset of a consumption-based society and protect the resources that we have, eradicating the “throw away” mentality — reuse what can be reused.

Ecofeminism also looks to dismantle the dichotomy of man vs. nature and believes we should view humanity and nature as one. Without nature we could not exist. If we begin to coexist with nature, instead of viewing it as something to conquer, the earth will flourish.

For this reason, ecofeminism is essential to liberating ourselves and our planet from patriarchy and overconsumption. It seeks to create a world that focuses on women’s spirituality with the earth and not to exploit or control it.

Rachel Cambron (she/her or they/them) is a senior studying English. She also writes poetry in her spare time.

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