Neighborhood Garden Swap & Volunteering

Coral tree

Coral tree and drought tolerant yard

We live in a historic neighborhood in Southern California. Owners take great pride and time in maintaining and beautifying their homes and yards. I have lived in many houses, in many neighborhoods, in many cities, yet this truly feels like home. During this pandemic, it has become my sanctuary and I’m grateful.

The first house I lived in in the same neighborhood had four prolific orange trees and two lemon trees. Each year for the 8 years I lived there, a non-profit organization would come and pick them to deliver to food banks in our county. Anywhere from 10 to 20 volunteers would arrive, equipped with long handled fruit pickers, bushel baskets and joy. The would spend the entire day and sometimes into a second day and pick well over 1,000 lbs of oranges and lemons. It was a wonderful sight and I was always amazed at their enthusiasm. I moved a year ago and sadly, have no fruit to offer up, but it has given me another purpose which I describe below.

Garden Seeds

I repurposed an existing raised planter for a vegetable garden. When we moved here, the planter was pretty empty except for a dwarf maple tree. I partitioned the tree from the veggie area, set up irrigation and just planted my first vegetable – walla walla sweet onions. I will be drawing out the plan for placement of the seeds,

Garden Seeds

Garden Seeds

I will begin the tomato seedlings in dirt and an egg carton, plant the other seeds in the planter and tend my garden until it hopefully grows enough salad fixings to sustain us over the spring and summer. The last time I tried to do this, I forgot to water it. Now I have automatic watering so that should take care of my forgetfulness!

I, along with many other households I would imagine, throw away more green leafy veggies than I’d like to admit. So the second part of my “veggie practice” will be to start a neighborhood garden swap. We have a neighborhood website that I will be posting the suggestion of sharing abundant crops and gathering a consensus on when and how often to meet. Our neighborhood has bountiful orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime trees along with avocado trees. We have two avocado trees that produce continual, enormous, copious avocados. I have been sharing them with neighbors and friends, but will be able to include them in our veggie swap gatherings.

Today I will draw my plan and plant the seeds in the garden as well as start the tomato seeds in the egg carton. This entire process will take much longer than the remaining time of the course, but it has motivated me to continue and create an environment where I grow my own food and share with others.

Garden goodies

Walla Walla Onions

The third part of my “veggie practice” is this – I will donate our crop and that of others to the local food bank. They feed thousands of people each week and help so many who cannot afford to feed themselves. I will also volunteer my time with the hundreds of volunteers in whatever capacity they need. My hope in sharing homegrown veggies, sharing and creating friendships in the community and branching out to the homeless and needy is that it will help to create a bond between those communities. And now with the Covid19 pandemic, we need connection more than ever.

We Are Strong, We Are Woman

From the issues raised regarding women and ecology, their environments and their disenfranchisement, come great minds and leaders who stand up and speak out. Women at every environmental disaster and threat to the well being and productivity of themselves and their people. Some brave physical attacks, disregard, lawsuits, imprisonment, kidnapping and more. Yet they stand. I think immediately of Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan, speaking out for the education of young women, shot in the head by a stranger, a man, who wanted to stop her movement of educating girls and women. She survived and continues her work, unafraid of what may come. Her story is a lot like the stories below, of brave women who move forward despite their fears.

There are thousands of women activists working for an equitable environment in which to live their lives. Women environmental activists who stand up against the greatest of odds. Ecofeminist activists who put their lives on the line for what they believe in and for their loved ones futures. Isn’t giving voice to the voiceless and their continued struggle to save their livelihood and the planet a worthwhile endeavor? Here are just a few:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%A1xima_Acu%C3%B1a

Maxima Acuna and her family filed a lawsuit against a Colorado based Corporation that wanted to purchase their family owned land which Maxima did not want to sell. After many violent acts by the Corporation toward Maxima, including completely destroying their home, they sued. “Newmont Mining Corporation, owner of some of the world’s most lucrative gold and copper mines, has led a campaign of harassment and abuse against Máxima and her family since 2011. The company attempted to force them off their land to build the Conga mine, one of the largest open-pit gold mines in Latin America” (see website to left). Now, 10 years later, they have had several grassroots environmental agencies standing behind Maxima and her family.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyllis_Omido

 

Phyllis Omedo founded the Centre for Justice, Governance and Environmental Action in Mombasa. Her son was poisoned by the lead in their local drinking water, which was  poisoned by a lead smelting factory along with surrounding air. She has brought a class action suit against the company, has been threatened, arrested and gone into hiding in fear of her life. But she moves forward, her head held high, speaking truth to power. The company has closed but the fight continues.

 

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judi_Bari

Judi Bari has been a long time activist wherever injustice rears it’s ugly head. She has fought the injustice of war, racism, sexism, political repression, economic exploitation, and the unnecessary destruction of ecosystems. She was the principal spokesperson and leader for Earth First!, to fight for the redwoods of Northern California. She has organized unions, wild cat strikes, protested peacefully against the Vietnam war, Bari has organized countless Unions, including Restaurant, Retail, Railroad, Marine, Food Product and Publishing workers, just to name a few.

https://www.wri.org/profile/wanjira-mathai

 

 

Wanjira Mathai is the Vice President and Regional Director for Africa for World Resources Institute in Kenya. She is an environmental activist and fights against deforestation and for energy access. Her mother was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. Wanjira has worked on disease control in Africa, empowering women to create renewable energy jobs, worked for the Green Belt Movement to plant trees and save forests and promotes a culture for young people to take on leadership roles.

 

https://orgs.law.harvard.edu/womeninspiringchange/2015-honorees/marina-silva/

Marina Silva is an environmentalist and politician in Brazil. She has served as Senator and Minister of the Environment. As Senator, she decreased deforestation by 59% and implemented policies for sustainable development, territorial zoning, and attached greater value and preservation of standing forests. Marina has run for President three times, campaigning on the same issues to strengthen citizens rights to their lands and production.

https://www.brockovich.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Erin Brockovich is best known for her suite against PG&E for water contamination by chromium in Northern California. She went on to be part of several other water and air contamination suits since then. Erin has become a prominent activist and educator of environmental issues. She is now in the process of litigation involving SCG (Southern California Gas Company) because of a methane leak in a community north of Los Angeles, CA.

 

 

 

 

It seems wherever there is injustice toward the environment, women are at the forefront demanding action. Giving them a voice to speak for themselves and others in these unfortunate and unjust crises is our global conscious. Our global conscious for Mother Earth and the mothers and daughters and women who cannot speak for themselves, in fear of extreme retaliation from big business and giant corporations. And yet, these and more courageous women everywhere have the strength and stamina to change peoples hearts, minds and politics. It seems only fair that the men in charge should listen. “In the face of unprecedented biophysical and socio-economic predicaments, scholarship in the heterodox school of ecological economics must articulate feasible pathways to transformational societal change that adapt “not only to new hazards and changing resources but also to new sustainability regimes of knowledge, as well as to changes in access to and control over resources”(Ruder pg 20-21). Only when new ideas and resolutions arrive to restructure our methods of dealing with environmental degradation and women that are suffering because of them will we see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The way we see the world shapes the way we treat it. If a mountain is a deity, not a pile of ore; if a river is one of the veins of the land, not potential irrigation water; if a forest is a sacred grove, not timber; if other species are biological kin, not resources; or if the planet is our mother, not an opportunity–then we will treat each other with greater respect. Thus is the challenge, to look at the world from a different perspective.

David Suzuki, Canadian Academic and Environmental Activist

Annotated Bibliography

Ruder, Sarah Louise and Sanniti, Sophia Rose. “Transcending the Learned Ignorance of                Predatory Ontologies: A Research Agenda for an Ecofeminist-Informed Ecological                  Economics. School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability University of                        Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Cananda. January 2019.

Analyzing economic capitalism and ecological feminism, the researches look for new ways to address the oppressive connection between women, animals and the environment, offering different ways of addressing this oppression, outside of economic and environmental capitalist society. In fact, they state that societal’s approach to women and their environmental issues must come from a new paradigm.

 

Intersectional Ecofeminism

Intersections

“Integrating one’s past, present, and future into a cohesive, unified sense of self is a complex task that begins in adolescence and continues for a lifetime…” (Tatum p 10). The majority of women around the globe have multiple “isms” they must navigate throughout their lifetimes. Growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s, I had to contend with sexism, racism, classism and whatever word can be used to describe adult family members telling you that you are ‘not human enough to have a voice’. These constraints rear up from time to time, even years later. Today I still deal with sexism and now, ageism (even Covid19 has decided to discriminate against my age group). It’s not unique to me or women like me. I was born at a time when misogyny was rampant. My father was a misogynist, making sexist jokes at his daughters and wife’s expense. Adolescence caused me to slump over to hide my budding womanhood from my father and other males. Treating my mother brutally, she tried to learn when and how to speak and was often surprised at my father’s violence. The daily fear was palpable. Did I learn how to live with that injustice and violence? Hell no, I did not. What I did learn was that I would never be victimized like my mother was. That was an invaluable lesson that I passed on to my daughters, unapologetically.

Both of my daughters are Intersectional feminists. I have come to understand and accept intersectionality as my place in feminist history as well. “The cornerstone of intersectional theory echoes the sentiment of the oft-quoted phrase . . . by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that ‘No one is free until we are all free’. This phrase . . . captured the spirit of a generation, highlighting the inability of white or black people to be truly free until the other is. Intersectional ecofeminism builds upon this foundation by further postulating that the ‘freedom’ of humanity is not only reliant on the freedom of nature and women, but it is also reliant on the achievement of liberation for all of those at intersecting points on along these fault lines. Intersectionality has become a powerful tool when applied to ecofeminist analysis of the relationship between women and the environment, particularly in its ability to assist in furthering our understanding of how a person’s relationship with the environment (in the Global South or North) is not completely dependent on any one aspect of their lives, whether gender, race, class, sexuality or age but rather a combination of all of the above and more besides.” (Kings).

It is my intention, by taking courses like this one, to expand and include all women, and men, in the process of coming to terms with our exclusionary past as white women, to bring to the forefront the intersectionality of black and brown women. I am a fan of the podcast, https://www.tnqshow.com/watch where the three hosts (two black women) discuss how it’s time for white women to come forward and ask, ‘What can I do to help your fight, your struggle? What do you require from me?’ Intersectional inclusion means that I listen to your needs, our differences, and have compassion for your pain and come to understand that we are not the same, but we are human beings. We do not have the same isms that manifest the same way. My sexism shows up differently than the sexism toward a woman of color from the south. Understanding that is a key to working toward ways to end that sexism. “There is no hierarchy of oppressions. The thread and threat of violence runs through all of the isms. There is a need to acknowledge each other’s pain, even as we attend to our own” (Tatum p13).

“Intersectional ecofeminist work has been particularly prominent in research concerning both climate change and human relations with the non-human other; recent work has highlighted the uneven distribution of environmental burdens and the necessity of incorporating species into intersectionality” (Kings). Nowhere is this more of an urgent crisis than in the factory farming industry. Until this practice is halted and animals are treated humanely will it begin to change everywhere. “If you identify as an ecofeminist you’re not only a feminist, but also a universal ally for environmentalism, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and any other movement that aims to reinforce the needs of marginalized groups —and that is the beauty of intersectional ecofeminism” ( Villalobos).

Majora Carter

Majora Carter

Majorca Carter’s TedTalk is a striking example of what one individual can do to mobilize a group of people to change their environment. Her passion and commitment is contagious and that’s what is needed to make a difference. Our planet is at a tipping point and environmental justice warriors like Ms. Carter are desperately in short supply. The fact that black communities bare the burden of power plants and waste facilities 50% more likely in their neighborhoods should astound white communities and cause them to work toward a more equitable distribution. The injustice of saddling poor neighborhoods with no parks, more detrimental industries and far less public funds, in this day and age, seems unfathomable. “Economic degradation begets environmental degradation begets social degradation” she states in her talk. Decades of these injustices, piled one on top of the other, require decades of dismantling and drastic policy changes. Providing green spaces where the neighborhood can walk, run, bike and socialize cuts dramatically down on crime, littering and abandoned housing because neighbors meet neighbors and look out for one another. “As we nurture the natural environment, it’s abundance will give us back even more.” Ms. Carter sees a future for the South Bronx, one of cooperation, consideration and green spaces.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bogardandhoffman/2016/11/29/on-resilience-how-majora-carter-risked-it-all-lost-it-all-and-bounced-back/#74e87bef6bdd is a more recent article where she speaks of her weaknesses and strengths and continues to fight for environmental justice in compromised communities. “We are all responsible for the world that we create. . .we have nothing to lose and everything to gain” (Carter, TedTalk).

Annotated Bibliography

Villalobos, Briana.Intersectional Ecofeminism: Environmentalism for Everybody. IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus. February 2017.

The author looks at the 2017 Women’s March that brought out over 2.5 million women and     families to stand up for a myriad of issues regarding women and the environment. She           asks the reader if the gathering of diverse people during the march is enough to propel and     maintain the movement toward a feminist environmental approach, addressing not just           middle and upperclass white women, but the more significantly marginalized communities       of color.

The Links Between Women and Environmental Policy

theconversation.com

theconversation.com

Gender Equality and State Environmentalism by Kari Norgaard and Richard York analyzes the interconnectedness of women in political office and environmentalist policy. They suggest that with the rise of gender equality and the growing female role in the political world, there is more concern regarding ecological issues. They state that this connection is due to environmental degradation going hand in hand with women’s roles and their own degradation in daily life. The search for clean water and food sources place extreme demands on women in many parts of the world, causing great hardship and health issues. When more women come into the political realm and hold political office, allowing women to be on a more equal footing with men, those issues and policy changes become more of a focus, especially in making environmental policies that are to the benefit of women and their families.

“(Noorgard’s) research indicates that women are more likely than men to express support for environmental protection and that women consider a variety of environmental risks, from nuclear power to toxic substances, to be more serious than do men.  “(A) now considerable body of ecofeminist theory asserts that sexism and environmental degradation are interconnected processes. This perspective holds that the values, ideologies, institutions, and economic systems that shape human-environmental relationships are themselves gendered and describes how these factors enable sexism and environmental degradation in mutually reinforcing ways (Merchant 1980; Seager 1993). This … ties both gender discrimination and environmental degradation to a common hierarchical social structure that simultaneously devalues both women and nature” (Noorgard p 508).

opentextbc.ca

Our current Covid19 crisis should really be a wake up call. What we as a species are doing to our environment is literally killing people and all living things. Do we know how these viruses live in animals? Are we, by our actions through pollution and extreme pesticide and fungicide and chemical use creating these diseases that are then transmitted through animals? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know that having 51% women in the political arena will most assuredly improve our chances of survival. Women are more inclined toward environmentalism and altruism from birth. They tend to have more empathy toward the down-trodden and choose to do more to help the disenfranchised. And, women, overall, have a greater affinity to working together as a community. (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-019-0448-2.pdf).

“Influential Women in Cleantech: Top 10 fighting for the Environment in our Governments” is a fascinating article about how women in top environmental positions are working toward green changes and are sometimes ostracized and criticized at every turn, but they persist and continue to strive for the good of all. For example, in 2012, Lisa P. Jackson was the EPA Administrator, also the first African American woman in that top position. She implemented programs for clean water, clean air, and toxic free living environments in communities as well as open lands. She has worked for Apple, The Clinton Foundation, President Obamas Administration, New Jersey EPA and many more to continue her good works to save the planet. (https://www.technicacommunications.com/cleantech/10-influential-women-in-cleantech-environmental-government-work/). They all see clearly the destructive path we are taking our only home, earth. From clean air, clean water, renewables and recycling and more, these women are at the forefront of innovation and rescuing the planet from ourselves.

Women Unite

 

In the research of Ramstetter and Habersack, the analysis of gender and environmental policy has several points. Firstly, socialization has a part to play in women and men approaching environmental issues differently. Women tend to learn and are innately compassionate, caring and nurturing, having concern for their fellow human and nonhuman. Men tend to learn how to be aggressive, seek power and not show emotion. These differing ways of seeing and behaving lead to differing ecological actions. Secondly, gender roles play a part. Women are concerned with family and nonhumans and environment where men care about career, money and prestige.

When looking at different countries and ‘elite’ legislators, the results were more ambiguous and inconsistent between women and men and also were dependent on particular countries. Sweden and the United States had more women making stricter environmental policies and often choosing it as their expertise. Still, Ramstetter states:

Female representatives attach more importance to environmental issues than their male colleagues (attitudinal gender gap).

Female representatives are more likely to support pro-environmental legislation than their male colleagues (behavioral gender gap).

The European Parliament (EP), considered of elite status, is 35% female and it consists of members from twenty seven countries. Three issues contribute to a more equitable share for women law makers in the EP:

  • heralded as one of the most gender-equal elected bodies in the world
  • women hold relatively powerful positions within committees and benefit from a more consensual style of politics that allows for ‘women’s cross-party coalitions and solidarity ties
  • due to the EP’s institutional youth, masculine norms and behavior are less entrenched in its institutions and procedures than in most parliamentary settings, thus increasing women’s room for maneuver

Women EP members with a liberal ideology are much more inclined to support environmental issues, while conservative leanings, less so. Overall, however, …”(F)indings suggest that women are more likely to act for the environment, and thus more likely to represent women’s interests substantively. Our research provides evidence that ‘politics of presence’ have more than a symbolic function. Women in parliament make a substantial difference for women and for the environment” (Ramstetter).

dataforprogress.org in It’s no Dirty Secret: Voters Love Pollution Disclosure, show that women of all political ideology are more in favor of big business disclosing their pollution rates than men. Below is a diagram of female/male ratings:

dataforprogress.org

 

Annotated Bibliography

Ramstetter, Lena and Habersack, Fabian. “Do we make a difference? Analyzing environmental attitudes and actions of Members of the European Parliament.” Environmental Politics Journal. May 2019. 

An analysis of the elite MEP (Members of European Parliament) comparing women and men’s concerns and voting records for two specific years. Although a non-ambiguous result was not reached, women were significantly more inclined to vote for the environment and women’s issues than men.

My Body, Your Body, Our Bodies

Documentary: Abortion Stories Women Tell

HBO Documentary: Abortion Stories Women Tell

I’ve always believed that a woman’s right to choose whether or not to seek an abortion is the woman’s decision and hers alone. It should be a private decision between herself and her doctor. In the mid 1970’s, one year after abortion became legal, that’s how it was for me, and i have never regretted that decision. It was based entirely on my immaturity at the time and my understanding that I was not equipped to raise another human being. Hawkins’ explanation of abortion, it’s place in controlling population and the myriad environmental issues regarding poorer women and their families, along with privacy, are all issues I agree with.

Since Hawkins’ research in 1994 our world population has risen to nearly 8 billion with more births than deaths each day. As women of the United States struggle to hold onto their legal right to an abortion, 1/3 of the worlds population do not have access to legal, safe abortion rights. 26 countries have a total ban on abortion. 39 other countries have abortion legal only if the life of the mother is at stake (https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6409621/abortion-map-third-of-world-countries-ban-illegal-jail-miscarriages/). Many women have died or are in prison due to seeking out abortion in unsafe conditions and/or being accused of aborting their pregnancy even if they miscarry. Legalizing abortion in these countries would allow women to decide when and if children are a part of their future. Mortality rates are higher for women and children in regions where abortion is illegal.

Abortion map

Green – legal Orange – in rare circumstances Red – illegal

Today, more than ever, “(t)he links between population growth, poverty, and environmental degradation…” are well known and are only getting worse (Hawkins p 690). According to actionagainsthunger.org, 780 million people live in extreme poverty. 45% of all childhood deaths are due to starvation and undernutrition. Starvation is due to lack of a steady income for the family, no access to proper food, clean water or healthcare. Along with income, food, water and healthcare, reliable sanitation, clean cooking fuel, electricity, flooring material and at least five years of education can and do reduce child and maternal mortality (Alkire p 16). Women and their children are at the greatest risk of death due to poverty and lack of education regarding the truths of birth control, abortion and gynecological health. “(W)omen who can regulate their fertility, including access to safe abortion, can take advantage of opportunities for education, employment, and political empowerment, and have a greater ability to achieve and maintain overall health and well-being as well as to maintain their productivity and contributions to society. For example, when girls with unwanted pregnancies are allowed to stay in school rather than being forced to drop out, their chances of later gaining an income above poverty level are greatly increased” (Crane p 7).

“Thomson and the Case of the Sickly Violinist” (https://www.iep.utm.edu/abortion/#SH3g) is a fascinating article from 1971 in which Thomson argues that just because someone believes they can ‘use’ anothers’ body to keep themselves alive, does not give them the right to do so, no matter how much they feel they deserve to. She states that 1) “the right to live does not include the right to be given the means necessary for survival” and 2) “the right to live does not include the right not to be killed”. The rights of the person being used by the other to stay alive have been unjustly usurped and they must be afforded all their rights to live a normal life. This is clearly relatable to a woman’s right to choose whether to carry her pregnancy to term.

In the United States alone, where there has been abortion bans and the closing of clinics, there has been a rise in maternal mortality rates. This has affected women of color significantly more than white women due to most of the bans being introduced in southern states. Louisiana and Georgia rank first and second in maternal mortality, adversely affecting women of color (https://www.businessinsider.com/states-passing-abortion-bans-have-highest-infant-mortality-rates-2019-5).

long live roe v wade

Annotated Bibliography

Alkire, Sabina and Santos, Maria Emma. “Acute Multidimensional Poverty: A New Index for Developing Countries.” Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative, Working Paper No. 38. July 2010.

Utilizing MPI (Multidimensional Poverty Index), the authors analyze 104 countries using health, education and standard of living to determine possible solutions and policies that address the interlocking issues poor people face. MPI measures poverty in the selected countries comparably but broadly. A more individualized study by country is necessary for more direct input and results as poverty changes from region to region.

Crane, Barbara B. and Smith, Charlotte E. Hord. “Access to Safe Abortion: An Essential Strategy for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals to Improve Maternal Health, Promote Gender Equality, and Reduce Poverty.” UN Millennium Project. February, 2006.

An in-depth look at legal/illegal abortion and it’s implications regarding women, families, poverty, the health of women, policies, and the larger international community. Often it is the policy makers themselves, mainly male, who refuse to change their policies and so it is the women who suffer.

The Oppression of Women and Animals

Carol Adams

The difficulty that one faces when trying to awaken our culture to care about the suffering of a group that is not acknowledged as having a suffering that matters, is the same one that a meditation such as this faces. How do we make those whose suffering doesn’t matter, matter?” (Adams p 6).

what is being sold?what is being sold?

Genocide. A word that demands to be defined and yet struggles to be understood. I read A Problem from Hell by Samantha Power when it was first published. Or, I should say, I read half of it. It was a monster of a non-fiction and its subject matter was something I wanted to comprehend on a deep emotional level and found difficult to read in both the continual genocidal atrocities described and the extreme political nature of the word and how impossible it is for political leaders to claim it. Why? Because if they state it, they must do something about it. There in lies the rub. I believe the same is true for abuse of women and animals in todays culture. If we don’t speak about it, it isn’t happening and we can pretend it doesn’t affect us as individuals and we can overlook it. Or as Adams so succinctly puts it, “Genocide, itself, benefits from the politics of the dismissive” (p 5)

The three images above were chosen due to their long term impact on me as a woman and human. The ‘Bingo Wings’ are the imitation of the popular truckers mud flaps with profiles of what appear to be naked Barbies (unobtainable dimensions). I’ve always found them extremely distasteful when I spot them on large and small trucks. To then use that profile to sell animal parts takes another step into darkness. What Adams describes in the reading, the absent referent, is clearly visible here. It is the joining of objectification of women’s bodies with objectification of a dead animal part. Where once there was someone, the chicken, now there are just edible inanimate parts, the wings. This, in one image, destroys two sentient beings and heralds sexism and speciesism as the way to a man’s humanity and stomach.

The following two images, regarding hamburgers are even more distasteful and sexist. To use an image of a woman’s legs, spread open with a man apparently delivering a burger from her vagina?? How is this even acceptable? Not only do we see objectification of the female, we see dissection of the body: legs and implied vagina and womb only. Ground cow parts made into a meal for a man.  And the other advertisement doesn’t even need an image of a woman or any of her severed body parts. The suggestion of what she would say regarding, not the burger but the penis, is reprehensible. That society chooses to link women and animal oppression in such violent, vile images is something I will never agree with or find amusing or legitimate. As women, we fight yesterday, today and tomorrow for autonomy of body, mind and soul.

Because i live from a Buddhist framework and I see life as one universal whole, duality does not ring true for me. Adams describes how she views humans and non-humans as “…human and animal are definitions that exist in tandem, each draws its power from the other in a drama of circumscribing: the animal defining the human, the human defining the animal”(p 5). It is the artificial patriarchal system that keeps the domination of woman and animal facade in place. All life is precious and demands to be treated as such. It is also the apathy, numbness and spiritlessness of the general population that allows it to continue.

PETA campaign

4 Ways the Animal Rights Movement Uses Human Bodies to Sell Animal Rights

The image above is horrendous on so many levels. A friend works for PETA and he was required to view their videos as part of his interview for the position, but has he seen these types of images? He is considering becoming a vegetarian, but is he considering becoming a misogynist? These images do nothing other than promote the subjugation and violence that continues toward women and animals. Utilizing fetishistic sexual violence against often times nude vulnerable women to shock viewers into giving a damn about animals is perpetuating and adding to violence against women. From my standpoint, this image would have been far superior and memorable toward achieving their goal if, in fact, they had shown elephants being mistreated and/or abused. If their goal is to help animals, why not depict what is actually occurring? And reframing the language associated with the images to factually describe their torture. Or coming to the fight from a place of caring and concern. Aran Stibbe writes, “The animal rights movement, as it exists today, provides a discourse that opposes oppression. Animal rights authors frequently counter the classifications of mainstream discourse by using terms such as “nonhuman animal,” and “other-than-human animal.” They also use inclusive terms such as “being” in, “If a being suffers there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration”. This is the same “humans are animals” semantic classification used in biological discourse to argue against animal rights. However, in this case the similarities drawn are different, focusing on animals’ ability to suffer and feel pain in the same way that humans can” (p 157).

Adams writes about the ‘War on Compassion,’ “caus(ing) people to fear that beginning to care about what happens to animals will destroy them because the knowledge is so overwhelming” (p 10). Are we, as a species, really so weak and fragile that when it comes to seeing something that is real life as opposed to what has been whitewashed, or should I say, redwashed for our convenience, that we can’t take it? I think and believe that it’s much easier in the long term to see the truth than to hold on to the lie. Human psyches have a great deal more trouble with the lie, because intrinsically we already know what the truth is. And with that knowledge of the truth we can stand a little taller and see a littler clearer. Those times of clarity build character. They may hurt like hell and cause great discomfort, but the inhumanity of a situation sometimes takes precedence  Compassion can take the place of inhumanity, creating an awareness of another’s suffering and the choice to take on the task of change. It’s in all of us. It’s our humanity that make us human.

What is meant by animal rights?

Every conscious being has interests that should be respected. No being who is conscious of being alive should be devalued to thinghood, dominated, used as a resource or a commodity. The crux of the idea known as animal rights is a movement to extend moral consideration to all conscious beings.

Nobody should have to demonstrate a specific level of intelligence to be accorded moral consideration. No one should have to be judged beautiful to be accorded moral consideration. No being should have to be useful to humanity or capable of accepting “duties” in order to be extended moral consideration. Indeed, what other animals need from us is being free from duties to us. (https://www.friendsofanimals.org/program/what-is-meant-by-animal-rights/)

Annotated Bibiography

Stibbe, Aran. “Language, Power and the Social Construction of Animals.” Society and                   Animals, 9:2. 2001, pp 145-162.

Stibbe analyzes the myriad ways language and vernacular is used to dominate and exploit animals in the factory farming industry and animal products industries, such as beef for cows, pork for pig, meat production for murder, leather for skin. In this same way, using negative phrases with animals; ugly cow, stupid dog, greedy pig, big ape, you chicken. This language discrepancy continues to subjugate animals, thereby creating a perpetual lack of care for all animals, not just industrial animal production. Stibbe posits that the general population allows the mistreatment and murder of nonhuman animals and, therefore, can change the vernacular to change the treatment.

 

Vegetarian Ecofeminism

The image (below) of what looks like the Pillsbury dough boy, with one foot on a cutting board, slicing into a roast while another knife has been stabbed through the meat to keep it in place, is very disturbing to me. And disgusting.

 

I have never been a person who ate much meat. Not that I was raised as a vegetarian, but I couldn’t really stomach the smell of it cooking in the house growing up. And this image brings back those odors and aversion. The idea that a dough boy/chef is included in this image is a mystery. Are they attempting to show a generic human? Someone unidentifiable? Or was that human form chosen to place the most emphasis on the actual meat? The knife holding the roast onto the board seems an extremely aggressive move, one that leaves me queasy. If I were to find the image while browsing online, I would quickly pass it like seeing something distasteful and immediately dismissing it from my mind and memory. If I were to guess, and it would be strictly a guess, I would say the image is a way of disassociating ourselves from where the meat came from, that it is ours to conquer, cook and devour. There is no reality as to where it came from, how the animal was treated while it was alive, how it died or how it came to be on this cutting board. Just as packaged meat in department stores are as far removed from the animal it came from as possible, so too this image is to me.

This last Christmas, we had four vegetarians, one vegan and two meat eaters at our table. All women and one man, my husband. The women decided to have vegetarian Indian cuisine and each of us made an Indian dish or two. I watched my husband push the food around on his plate and look rather suspiciously at it. The next day he asked, “What’s a guy have to do around here to find something to eat?” I laughed and responded, “Look in the refrigerator- lots of leftovers. Do you always have to have meat?” So I can honestly say the way to my man’s heart is through dead animals. He rarely will have a salad, leaves most green things on his plate but will readily and eagerly finish off chicken, turkey and the occasional red meat in a heartbeat.

indian vegetarian dishes

My experiences with gendered foods, at least in my family, has made it clear that a carnivorous lifestyle is mainly male gendered while vegetarianism is female oriented.  “(M)en, athletes and soldiers in particular, are associated with red meat and activity… whereas women are associated with vegetables and passivity” (Curtin). From my observation, there is also a generational difference. Most of my daughters friends, both male and female, are vegetarian or vegan. About half of my friends, in their 40s through 80s are carnivorous, I am one of the few vegetarian exceptions of my age. So I can’t say unequivocally that meat is male and salad is female, but I do see this trend in older people. However, very few millennials are carnivorous. Living in California, I have noticed that most men eat burritos with meat at Mexican restaurants and most women choose tacos. Size? Volume of food? Do men feel more manly eating an enormous burrito with their hands? Possibly.

Greta Gaard writes that vegetarianism in the west should be the go-to diet and meat is unnecessary. She sees all the “isms” as deeply connected to our contrived patriarchal system. “Speciesism is defined as the oppression of one species by another” and “is a form of oppression that parallels and reinforces other form(s) of oppression. These multiple systems — racism, classism, sexism, speciesism — are not merely linked, mutually reinforcing systems of oppression: they are different faces of the same system” (p20). Treating animals as void of emotional, physical or psychological feelings and fear is one way to continue the oppression and degradation. This holds true for animals as well as women. And Gaard rightly describes Bella the parakeet’s existence as lacking in her basic needs as a bird, leaving her lonely and listless. I’ve had birds and they bond to their owners like a child bonds with their mother. If you don’t have the time and understanding of how to care for a bird or any pet, not having one is probably a good move. Gaards description of having pets as oppression is interesting. I understand how she views that oppression, especially with more exotic, wild animals, but I have to disagree with her belief that owning dogs and cats is tantamount to slavery. I have four dogs (two rescues) and I appreciate and love them all for their uniqueness and personalities. “By keeping pets, we strive to shield ourselves from recognizing our own complicity in a system of inter-species domination” (p21). I will have to consider this as we move further into this course. I am, however, fully on board with ending the suffering of all animals, in zoos, shelters and farms. I am fully on board with ending factory farming of animals for meat. I am fully on board with ending animal testing. It is amoral, greed induced and causes extreme suffering. If we are intricately linked energetically, and I believe we are, how can we harm another living creature? The Dalai Lama’s definition of compassion is this: “He bases his teachings of compassion on Tibetan Buddhism. The Tibetan term for compassion is nying je, which… “connotes love, affection, kindness, gentleness, generosity of spirit and warm-heartedness.” People with these traits want to help others who suffer. If you look at the Latin roots of the word compassion, they are com, which means with, and pati, which means suffer. So, the word compassion literally means to suffer with…Compassion…opens our heart. Fear, anger, hatred narrow your mind… having compassion for others is a way to help people gain strength when facing issues with health and anxieties” (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/lessons-of-compassion-fro_b_7868940). When applied to all living creatures, compassion could save the world. Being a compassionate vegetarian feminist sounds like a role we should all engage in.

https://caroljadams.com/why-vegan-feminist

Deane Curtin states that “To choose one’s diet in a patriarchal culture is one way of politicizing an ethic of care. It marks a daily, bodily commitment to resist ideological pressures to conform to patriarchal standards, and to establishing contexts in which caring for can be non-abusive.” She also asks the reader to take into consideration location, class, economics, gender and climate in order to understand how some cultures cannot remove meat from their diet. Curtin’s moral vegetarianism allows for these exceptions. In Western cultures, however, “An ecofeminist perspective emphasizes that one’s body is oneself, and that by inflicting violence needlessly, one’s bodily self becomes a context for violence. One becomes violent by taking part in violent food practices. The ontological implication of a feminist ethic of care is that nonhuman animals should no longer count as food” (Curtin). This last statement has had a profound effect on my ‘indifferent’ attitude when it comes to meat eating. I have always been a firm believer that I am what I eat. If i eat meat, then, I am ingesting pain, fear, inhumanity and violence.

One of the more frightening movements, in my opinion, is genetically engineered (GE) animals. These are animals essentially grown in a lab. In particular, salmon grown by a company in Canada is unsure of the breeding capability. “(U)p to five percent of AAS salmon may be able to reproduce. If an escape of an AAS were to occur, interbreeding could occur with wild Atlantic salmon and some species of trout, which could lead to genetic contamination and other unpredictable ecological consequence” (Lee, p 68). There seems to be little acknowledgment regarding the dangers and unknowns of genetic animal engineering for food. And, as Lee reports, little response from these companies whose policies are opaque and not forthcoming. Ecofeminism, Lee states, can create a legal framework, different than the existing patriarchal one, that looks at the potential invasive and destructive possible outcomes of GE foods with nature. “Damaging (patriarchal) structures and mindsets constantly inform and maintain one another, making it difficult to uncover inherent biases, especially when they become codified in laws and policies that are justified as being “science- based”—the implication then being that they are objective and neutral” (Lee, p 70). Ecofeminism can challenge these systems.

GE salmon

Watching how quickly the Animal Kill Clock increases in the death toll of animals slaughtered for food has given me no appetite for meat, of any kind. Once I saw it broken down into how many types of animals and their numbers, I have decided to be dedicated to vegetarianism instead of my ‘flexitarianism’ I’ve used as an excuse for years. It made people laugh but I’m no longer laughing. I find it incredible and imperative that with new information regarding issues that significantly affect not just me but everyone, including nonhuman animals, I can change a lifetime of habit. Whether it’s from a compassionate or moral imperative point of view, or another entirely different stance, it is the right thing to do, for animals, for humans and for the planet.

statista.com

https://www.statista.com/chart/19135/environmnetal-meat-alternatives/

 

Annotated Bibliography

Lee, Angela. “An Ecofeminist Perspective on New Food Technologies.” Canadian Food               Studies, Vol 5, No 1. University of Ottowa, February 2018. pp. 63-89.

Lee argues that science and technology cannot be automatically assumed to be for the         greater good. From an ecofeminist perspective, she analyzes both the potential positive           and negative effects GE animals may/will have in society. Looking at the root causes of           hunger and food lack is a more appropriate direction than attempting to create an                   overabundance of meat as a fix-all approach. And disregarding the humanitarian and               spiritual reasons for starvation do not address the issue, but digs us deeper into a                   quagmire of technological maybes.

Understanding Place

 

Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Rooms

Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room at The Broad Museum, Los Angeles, CA

This is my landscape. It is how I see the world and my place within it. I first had the privilege of standing in this room by the artist, Yayoi Kusama, in NYC at MOMA years ago. It captivated me. I felt a deep sense of elation and belonging. The room reflected back the light on the mirrored ceiling, walls, and water on the floor. It drew me in like a celestial being who had found their home. I walked away brighter and shinier. Standing in a new version at The Broad Museum in Los Angeles this last year, I had the same powerful, levitating emotions course through me. Do I see myself as one star among trillions? Yes I do. Buddhist philosophy, years of spiritual questioning and six decades have brought me to this Understanding Place. 

Because I was overwhelmed with peace and weightlessness as I walked out of Infinity Mirrored Room, I didn’t feel compelled to read about what the artist intended until now. During an interview in 2017, Yayoi described the work as “Eternal unlimited universe, love for humanity, and longing for peace in the world—these concepts become increasingly serious through the development of my philosophy of life and art” (https://www.thebroad.org/exclusive-interview-yayoi-kusama). I felt it, and still do. Barbara Kingsolver writes, “It’s a grand distraction, this window of mine. “Beauty and grace are performed,” writes Annie Dillard, “whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” Kingsolver’s window are my eyes. I seek out beauty and am continually awed by it. For me, it isn’t just in nature because I see it everywhere. And because I see beauty wherever I am, everywhere is my place.

Infinity Mirrored Room by Yayoi Kusama, 2019

I’ve lived in twenty different dwellings over my lifetime. Each one carries a piece of my history. Some have had nature and open spaces for acres, some only indoor plants. There were many years I felt compelled to be near water and so I lived with a creek, a pond and waterfall. Each property I’ve owned has been transformed into a landscape indigenous to the region, drought tolerant and swarming with butterflies and bees. I have felt driven to create unique, pesticide free environments ripe with bugs and birds and creatures, whether it’s urban or rural. The last two homes have been more wild than before.”…(T)his is not hard to understand: falling in love with a place, being in love with a place, wanting to care for a place, and see it remain intact as a wild piece of the planet” (Williams p16). I don’t, however, feel bound to stay but move freely to allow others to enjoy the creation.

My goal is to leave the planet better than when I arrived. If I do my part and others do theirs, it will be.This, I believe, is Williams bedrock democracy. That we stand individually and together to keep our ‘wildness” free from harm and do our part publicly to make it so. I protest when huge oaks are scheduled for destruction, I write to publicly appointed officials when massive development is being proposed in our area, unless it’s affordable housing for the homeless and less fortunate. I am a privileged white woman who has chosen to use her voice for preservation. Sometimes it’s the only voice, other times it’s one among many.

bell hooks, in Touching the Earth, describes the loss of the connection to nature among black people. “If we think of urban life as a location where black folks learned to accept a mind/body split that made it possible to abuse the body, we can better understand the growth of nihilism and despair in the black psyche. And we can know that when we talk about healing that psyche we must also speak about restoring our connection to the natural world” (p387). Could this also be true of all human beings? I know I derive a great sense of peace and clarity when in the natural world. I watched a raccoon move across the street early this morning, watching and avoiding the two large dogs and their owner as they walked by. It was an intense moment for myself and the raccoon, both hoping it would make it to safety and back home where it belonged. We have, after all, encroached on wild animal territory, claiming it as ours and feeling as though they have no right to be where we are.

My homeMy home

My home

“In an ideal world, a world we might well inhabit one day, we may not need to “designate” wilderness, so evolved will be our collective land ethic, our compassion for all manner of life, so responsive and whole. We will not have to “preserve” or “protect” land because we will have learned what it means to be “good stewards,” to see the larger community as an embrace of all species. I pray there will indeed come a time, when our lives regarding the domestic and the wild will be seamless” (Williams p18).

“When the Earth is sacred to us, our bodies can also be sacred to us” (hooks p368).

 

Annotated Bibliography

Loyer, Sarah. “An Exclusive Interview with Yayoi Kusama,” https://www.thebroad.org/exclusive-interview-yayoi-kusama. 2017.                                             This brief interview explains the creation of Yayoi Kusama’s installation piece, The Infinity                Room(s) and the work leading up to it’s creation. Kusama suffers from lifelong mental              illness and speaks seldom in public so most of the explanation is done in the                         questioning by the interviewer with Kusama leaving one sentence long, profound                     statements.

Williams, Terry Tempest. Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert. Vintage, 2002, pp. 3-19.              Terry Tempest Williams analyzes the struggle of keeping Utah, Colorado, New Mexico         and Arizona’s public lands closed to environmental disasters such as oil drilling. He                 looks at a history of policy changes aimed at opening lands for removal of natural                   resources and argues that wilderness must be our bedrock democracy, where nature is         placed in a hierarchal priority.

 

 

Ecofeminism and the Global South

“Nature is not out there, we are part of it. And…protecting nature is not a luxury…The very foundation of every economic activity is the rivers, the lands, the forests and the biodiversity” (Shiva, film above).

Bina Argawal, in her writing “The Gender and Environment Debate: Lessons from India,” states that women of India face a significant crisis in their rural towns and villages due to environmental degradation. She describes Dr. Vandana Shiva’s understanding of the demise of the feminine principle, Shakti, during the colonization/industrial period and the overthrow by masculine power, Parusha, bringing about the death of Prakriti (activity and diversity) and the inevitable  “marginalisation, devaluation, displacement, and ultimate dispensability” of the feminine (p124). This brought about violence against women and nature that remains today. Yet, Argawai argues, that is a Hindu understanding and does not address the entire story.

Argawai believes women can…”be seen as both victims of the destruction of nature and as repositories of knowledge about nature, in ways distinct from the men of their class” (p126). They have key information, passed down from generation to generation by their mothers and grandmothers, regarding plant life and how to utilize nature. But through appropriation by the state, causing destruction of the environment and appropriation by privatization, causing a more extreme divide between the poor and wealthy, this knowledge is slowly in decline. What was once communal resources and knowledge has been stripped away, leaving the poor poorer. Deforestation, excessive fertilizer and pesticide use, and groundwater level drops have all contributed to the ever increasing lack of natural resources. “The statization and privatization of communal resources have, in turn, systematically undermined traditional institutional arrangements of resource use and management” (p 133). No longer are local communities the stewards of their own environment.

Along with the two significant issues stated previously, there is also population growth and the Green Revolution. The former is still under study, but the latter created immediate abundance of crops but long term degradation of soil. And, again, we see the dualism that Warren described in our readings last week, with scientists seen as experts while locals are viewed as ignorant, “between intellectual and physical labor, between city and countryside, and be- tween women and men” (p 136). Until we no longer divide and conquer, these issues will persist.

borgenproject.org

Women in Nepal. borgenproject.org

There is extreme gender/class division in India. The problem is three-fold, as Agawai describes:

  • a pre-existing gender division of labor requires women and young girls to spend more time searching and acquiring daily tools and food for family due to deforestation and poisoning of water and the loss of generational knowledge of plants for sustenance and medicine
  • there are fewer females vs. males, they (women) become ill due to parasites and pesticides in water and soil, and morbidity rate is higher, including a rise in suicide from feeling alienated and alone
  • women have fewer resources, labor and training opportunities, limited property rights, the destruction of social and community support systems where once women worked together, and now each family fends for themselves

“As some environmentalists have rightly argued, this predominantly commercial approach to forestry, promoted as “scientific forestry,” is reductionist-it is nature seen as individual parts rather than as an interconnected system of vegetation, soil, and water; the forest is reduced to trees, the trees to biomass” (p 144). The unsustainable monoculture imposed in these Indian communities contrasts sharply with the vast diversity from the past, leaving women with very little in the way of food, medicine, firewood, and water.  These issues are multiplied by climate change. “(Dr. Vandana) Shiva’s idea was that a decentralized approach to agriculture, based upon a diverse array of locally adapted seeds, would be more likely to weather the vagaries of a changing climate than a system relying on only a few varieties” (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Vandana-Shiva). But the state and private companies have little interest in what is best for women and their families.

centreforfeministforeignpolicy.org

I find the Global South perspective much more interesting and imperative than the Western one. Because Indian women live with nature and derive their livelihood, health and longevity from it directly, there are dire consequences for them both immediately and in the future. Since the 1970’s India’s women have acted in protests, forest protection activism, forming organizations to change and implement policy toward a biodiverse culture, just as they enjoyed before colonization. Western ecofeminists see all women as one group, which often marginalizes the plight of third world communities and women of color. Combining intersectional feminism with an ecological approach would go much further to understand and incorporate remedies for women with differing societal struggles. Western ecofeminists view the connection of women and nature as being dominated by man (patriarchy) who believes himself to be superior. India ecofeminism appears to actively work within the dominant political structure to change minds and policy.

The more I discover the deep connection between the treatment of women and the treatment of their land, the angrier I become. And the more frustrated. So many women in countries other than the United States are suffering at the hands and policies of a structurally contrived patriarchy. Can it be that government and big business have no conscious when it comes to raping and pillaging both women and our planet? It seems to be so.

Is Ecofeminism Relevant Today?

Before we answer the question regarding the relevance of Ecofeminism today, let’s take a broad look at what Ecofeminism actually is through the lens of our reading by Dr. Laura Hobgood-Oster. She describes it as “simultaneously serving as an environmental critique of feminism and a feminist critique of environmentalism” (p1). And just as there are myriad feminists groups and ideologies, so too is there a variety of ecofeminist’s theory, in constant movement and change, depending on the issues at hand and the individuals analyzing them. Hobgood-Oster also states that there is an unbreakable connection between Ecology, feminism, patriarchy, “classism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, naturism (a term coined by Warren) and speciesism…” (p2). In order to understand ecofeminism, we must view patriarchal destruction of mother earth simultaneously along with the “isms” that societal patriarchy creates and move to disassemble them. Only then will we begin to heal the planet and the climate crisis we find ourselves in as well as equality for women. Ecofeminism looks at breaking down our human hierarchy over the natural world.

I come from a Buddhist background and understand that everything that is alive and not alive is made of energy. The same energy, whether it’s breathing or static. There is no hierarchy, no one thing that is superior to the other. This is non-duality. Therefore, to live a non-dualistic life means there are no opposites like male/female, right/wrong, birth/death. Non-duality is living in the present, in this moment, before the definition of things, before preferences, without preconceived ideas of how life should be, or how humans should conduct themselves.  Ecofeminists have this ultimate goal as a basic theory as well. The writings of Karen J. Warren define dualism as one of the eight connections between women and nature within ecofeminist theory. She states, “Frequently cited examples of these hierarchically organized value dualisms include reason/emotion, mind/body, culture/nature, human/nature, and man/woman dichotomies…(W)hatever is historically associated with emotion, body, nature, and women is regarded as inferior to that which is (historically) associated with reason, mind, culture, human (i.e., male) and men” (Warren). She also explains the social constructs of oppression in the “isms” that create a hierarchy of superiority vs. inferiority. All such “isms’ (racism, sexism, colorism, ableism, ageism, colonialism, ethnocentrism, heterosexism, and more) are artificially manufactured within society to maintain the status quo of patriarchal superiority.

If we divide and/or separate, we will lose sight of our goal of unity and oneness with mother earth. And the death of our planet, its animals and lushness, is directly tied to the death and subjugation of the female. In order to nurture the earth, we must also nurture all women and all beings. “As a justice advocate for the entire web of life, ecofeminism resists dividing culture into these imbedded separate or dualistic arenas” (Hobgood-Oster, p3). For myself, I found great relief and comfort in this non-dualistic approach. No longer did I perpetually separate and condemn someone or something as wrong, but could view them with objectivity, care and concern, inquiring into the historic nature of the particular situation instead of calling something “bad” or “unacceptable” without any background truths and perceptions. To dismantle dualism is one way ecofeminists can change the subjugation of women and the natural world.

Another theory Ecofeminism embraces is that it “replaces hierarchical dualisms with radical diversity and relationship, modeled on both biodiversity and the feminist emphasis on the strength of difference” (p4). The more diverse our planet, the greater the reward and the longer the life. In contrast take, for example, the fact that a handful of corporations hold the patent on the majority of seeds, mostly genetically modified (see below).For more information, go to :https://civileats.com/2019/01/11/the-sobering-details-behind-the-latest-seed-monopoly-chart/

In limiting our seed supply and production, our planet has lost much of its diversity and adaptability, therefore subject to extinction, pest infestation, and lack of biodiversity for sustenance and maintenance of a healthy, thriving ecology. The death of this biodiversity is also the societal oppression and rejection of women as equal and valuable to the well being of all things. As stated earlier and often, ecology and feminism together are essential for the survival of mother earth.

I recall many years ago, in my twenties, when I was in dire straits emotionally and psychologically. I felt lost and alone. It was the understanding that I was not alone, that Jesus Christ was always with me, that I began to emerge from my despair. But a few years of watching the discontinuity and often destructive behavior of the church pitting itself against science along with interpersonal divisiveness that I moved away and settled on a more inclusive, Buddhist way of seeing. This religious rejection of science and the well being of the planet should not be interpreted as spiritual rejection. On the contrary, ecofeminism and spirituality has strong ties among indigenous women and women like myself, who care deeply about the planet’s future from a spiritual,  but not dogmatically religious place. The idea that religion and science were at odds struck me as inaccurate in the Christian belief system. “Ecofeminism suggests that the antagonism sometimes existing between religious and scientific world views has been detrimental, used by both approaches to advance their own hierarchical structures” (p7). This is so clearly apparent in todays political climate, with the present administration eliminating and striking down one environmental law and restriction after another, often in the name of Christianity (biblical dominion over the earth by man), for the sake of big business and the almighty dollar. Along with environmental disregard is the continued disregard and denial of women’s rights and their voices. A patriarchal system of government cares little for mother nature and the women in it, ignoring the scientific research stating clearly that our lives here will be short if we continue to pretend that the thousands of warning signs are illusionary.

As we travel back to the initial question at the beginning of this post, of whether Ecofeminism is still relevant today, and watch the video entitled the same, what is the answer? As the warning signs of catastrophic planetary collapse loom larger, shouldn’t we be listening to the women who stand up and fight for their land, their heritage, their families, our planet? The relevance of an Ecofeminist movement seems to be even more urgent than the writings of Dr. Hobgood-Oster in 2002. The video suggests great advancements in the Ecofeminist movement while at its core there is still a deep connection between the destruction of the environment and the oppression of women. “A primary claim within Ecofeminism is that women’s liberation is intertwined with the liberation of the environment from human destruction” (video). Ecofeminism, however, is itself a dualistic movement, with most women of color ignored and not taken into account as part of the whole. There continues to be this separation, just as it was since its inception in the 1970’s (black/white). Whereas women of color focus on environmental justice today within their own communities, white women in the Ecofeminist arena focus on feminist spirituality. It is essential for ecofeminist groups to join together to create a cohesive strategy, initiating the changes necessary for the slow but methodical dismemberment of the negative societal constructs that keep all women, especially women of color and the environment around them in a steady pace of decline.

If women are the heart of this beautiful mother earth, they are also the mind and hands. It’s time to get to work.

https://medium.com/@khern019/does-it-work-ecofeminism-building-the-bridge-between-environmentalism-and-feminism-e8b13ded5f52

https://medium.com/@khern019/does-it-work-ecofeminism-building-the-bridge-between-environmentalism-and-feminism-e8b13ded5f52