The Importance of an Ecofeminist Sensibility // Rebecca Marcelina Gimeno, M.A.
I believe that given this past presidential election, and current events calling for environmental activism, an ecofeminist sensibility is extremely important as we move into 2017. Issues of climate change, mass environmental destruction, and concerns of women’s reproductive health care have all been gathered up, degraded, and exploited in today’s political discourse. For these reasons and more, I am urging feminists, psychotherapists, and those interested in political activism, to learn more about ecofeminism. For me personally, it has been helpful to understand ecofeminism as a theory, and as a political movement, which understands there to be an important connection between the oppression of women and the destruction of the environment, and that the eradication of both oppressions is necessary to an egalitarian world
When I began to study ecofeminism during my earlier years of graduate school, I had wanted to solely focus my research on the intersections of the war on women’s reproductive rights and the destruction of nature. However, as I began to learn more about our political situation, I came to realize that this intersection also speaks to the ways in which science oppresses both nature and women's bodies in the name of “progress” and the ways in which the free-market profits on the destruction of women’s bodies, especially when controlling their reproduction and for the purposes the Sex Industry. The task feels overwhelming and endless. It is extremely difficult to write on one specific form of oppression, when so much oppression is shared amongst groups of people, sentient beings, and the environment. To talk about one struggle, in a way is to talk about every struggle, and to deny the intersectionality of oppression, secures the existence of oppression itself.
Historically women’s bodies and the natural world have been exploited, owned, commodified, and regulated by governing bodies of power, especially by patriarchal forms of free-market capitalism. As a young feminist, student, and training clinical psychologist, I am interested in the ways in which this exploitation and degradation affects our collective consciousness and personal psyches, especially when considering the war on reproductive rights and environmental destruction. Ecofeminism and select orientations of psychology have made clear the dangers of oppression for our personal and social well-beings. The destruction of the environment and the occupation of women’s bodies is a worldwide phenomenon that holds in common a view of nature as a boundless resource, and women's bodies as profitable and in need of regulation. Climate change, war, pollution, and oppressive political regimes directly harm the natural world and oppressed populations. Women’s bodies are frequently at the front line of political conflicts and ideologies which often focus on the regulation of women’s bodies and means of reproduction. Similarly, akin to the natural world, women’s bodies, are often exploited in the name of science or progress, and at times are profited from in the case of the entertainment and sex industries.
It feels as though every time I check the news, there is another abortion clinic closing, another obstacle towards securing contraceptive care, another report of domestic violence, and another environmental atrocity. Violence against the environment, and violence against women are felt internationally, and the consequences of this violence affects the whole of humankind and the Earth, our home. As activist and scholar, Greta Gaard (2010) so eloquently writes:
Ecofeminism calls for an end to all oppressions, arguing that no attempt to liberate women (or any other oppressed group will be successful without an equal attempt to liberate nature. Its theoretical base is a sense of self most commonly expressed by women and various other nondominant groups—a self that is interconnected with all life. (p.1)
Gaard is right. We cannot move towards a more egalitarian society when there is so much violence being done, violence against the Earth, women, people of color, our animal friends, and religious and sexual minorities.
I hope that we, as a collective, can enter the New Year with a renewed sense of hope and conviction regarding the preciousness of the Earth, and of all sentient beings. We have seen the power of solidarity and activism most recently at Standing Rock, and have also witnessed the resurgence of a renewed women’s movement following the presidential election.
The time to tackle these environmental and reproductive rights issues is now. As was once often heard, uttered in the cries of protesters and activists during the political turmoil that followed the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the world can’t wait.
Gaard, G. (2010). Ecofeminism. Temple University Press.
Written by: Rebecca Marcelina Gimeno, MA.