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ECOFEMINISM: IS THE ENVIRONMENT A FEMINIST ISSUE?

Enrica De Colle

In the last few years, both feminism and the respect for the environment have been the talk of the town as Millennials (and non) have begun to voice more loudly their beliefs of gender equality and the importance of mindfulness in protecting our planet. But what happens when you put these two  seemingly unrelated things together? 


Ecofeminism was born in the United States in the late 70s out of a collection of conferences held by women who wanted to discuss why the environment and women both need to be respected. They believed that the traditional association of women to nature, often depicted as chaotic and controlling, generated a juxtaposition to the figure of the man, who instead reflected rationality and calmness, thus conferring them the power to exploit the former. 


In an article in The Nation, theorist Ynestra King challenged American to think about the ways in which their system of beliefs allow the Earth to be exploited and women to be oppressed. This led to the spread of the Ecofeminist movement  which eventually grew into different schools of thought, the two most famous ones being radical and cultural ecofeminism. King has stated that “We see the devastation of the Earth and her beings by the corporate warriors, and the threat of nuclear annihilation by the military warriors, as feminist concerns. It is the masculinist mentality which would deny us our right to our own bodies and our own sexuality, and which depends on multiple systems of dominance and state power to have its way."


This gender inequality has also been addressed in the UN Environment Program which states that “Around the world, environmental conditions impact the lives of women and men in different ways as a result of existing inequalities. Gender roles often create differences in the ways men and women act in relation to the environment, and in the ways men and women are enabled or prevented from acting as agents of environmental change.”


However, the future of this movement has become uncertain as many women are unsatisfied with the limits of this philosophy, particularly in the ways women from developed countries have failed to recognize how their lifestyles have led to the degradation in the quality of life of women in less developed ones. 


Without a doubt, ecofeminism has an original perspective on both environmental and feminist issues, and while both undoubtedly require the help and voice of talented, strong and empowered women, it raises the question about whether these matters, whether tackled together or individually, also need the support of many other groups of people to be resolved once and for all. It might be a great chance for us to realize that, to some extent, they are not problems that regard only some of us, but all of us, and this is reason enough to make a change.