Fertile Ground: Ecofeminism Needs Fighters

Sometimes—often—the news and media can get you down. For the ecofeminist, news can be downright devastating. Climate change is frying our cities, affecting the poorest people first—the majority women and children. Food deserts are rampant in these poorer areas. The government doesn’t seem to be slowing down subsidized crop worship, unwilling to help the small organic farmers who actually grow food fit to eat. Chemical companies are polluting air and water, but people continue to buy toxic materials produced by these companies to decorate and clean their homes. 

In 1990, legal scholar Angela P. Harris wrote in the anthology The Fire this Time, “As feminists begin to attack racism and classism and homophobia, feminism will change from being only women as women to being about all kinds of oppressions based on seemingly inherent and unalterable characteristics. We need not wait for a unified theory of oppression; that theory can be feminism.” I would also include the environment in this string of oppressions. These issues overlap, and become stronger and more powerful when aligned. Feminism needs to be elastic enough to carry all of their combined weight.    

So what is an eco-minded feminist to do amidst this world of depressing destruction? All I can advise is this: Get out there. Educate yourself. Do something and know you did that something. Education and awareness about systems of oppression is more crucial than ever. It is up to us to be eco-warriors, for the sake for feminism, for the sake of all oppression in the world. It is not only about buying “eco-friendly products,” which, thanks to greenwashing, we should be wary of anyway. It’s about not buying new, if we can help it. It’s about lifestyle choices and doing what you can: Make it, buy it used, buy it new if you must, but know what materials are in it, who made it, etc. It is about powering down at home. Walk and bike more, make wise food choices, harvest rainwater, hang your clothes up to dry. And get out into the community. Work in a community soup kitchen, or start your own. Participate in urban farming. Plant a renegade food forest, permaculture-style. Become increasingly self-sufficient, and less dependent on chemical-ridden corporations. Even if it’s little things you do, you’ll feel better and more powerful. These are not always easy choices, or sometimes even possible ones, but they are a start to get the mind thinking and consciously aware. There are plenty of books for inspiration and organizations you can volunteer with to find unity and community. 

Making drastic lifestyle choices is scary, but can be done. My boyfriend (now husband) and I quit our jobs in the hopes that we could make it as organic farmers, though we had no farmers in our family, no real encouragement, and no land access. We now rent land, and, though the last time I made so little money was when I was in high school working at a library, we are making it work. Starting a business, or having a “green” occupation that helps society and the earth isn’t for everyone, but if it is in you, then go for it. The earth has your back.

Thanks to Bitch Media for letting me be one of the many voices of ecofeminism during this series. Being able to see the world, including media, through an ecofeminist lens is important. Everything is related, and everything can be dissected. I’ve had people around me that call me “too sensitive”; can’t I just buy that Starbucks iced coffee without thinking of it not being fair-trade and shade-grown, and without thinking about the plastic cup it’s in, its plastic straw and with the straw’s paper cover? Can’t I ignore the factory-farmed milk it has in it, the sugar in it that is grown in a non-eco way? Can’t I just drink the coffee and lighten up? Well, when you put it all together, it can seem like too much. But unfortunately, I’m not overreacting; the world is what has gotten so messed up, so deformed in light of humanity’s quest for wealth, personal gain, thoughtless pleasure and material possessions—it’s the world that’s gone haywire. I wish it wasn’t all like this, but it is. I wish I could snap my fingers and it could be different, but it won’t be. We live in this world, and we have to continue living in it, doing our best to mend its wounds, even in what seems to be impossibly small ways. Collectively, I really believe all of our actions mean something. Keep fighting the good fight, and let’s make our uphill ecofeminist battle soar.

Previously: John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist’s Farmstead Chef, Attention Shoppers! The Problems with Celebrating Memorial Day by Shopping

by Alison Parker
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8 Comments Have Been Posted

Needs fighters...but where?

Hi, I'm a recent graduate (with a BS and MA) looking for work and would love to "fight the good fight" (in a non-violent way) AND get paid for it. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

JFC, I hate "eco-feminists"

“As feminists begin to attack racism and classism and homophobia, feminism will change from being only women as women to being about all kinds of oppressions based on seemingly inherent and unalterable characteristics."

Because that's the most feminist thing in the world, putting one's own causes on the back burner, instead of being so **selfish** as to focus on women only.

"Walk and bike more, make wise food choices, harvest rainwater, hang your clothes up to dry. And get out into the community. Work in a community soup kitchen, or start your own. Participate in urban farming."

No classism or ableism here, nuh-uh!! Everybody can walk and bike, everybody's got enough money to make "wise food choices," everybody can keep a rainbarrel, everybody's got enough living space for clothes racks, everybody's got enough *TIME* for volunteering. Especially in the worst economy in 70 years.

"Become increasingly self-sufficient, and less dependent on chemical-ridden corporations."

ZOMG CHEMICALS. How about hydrogen monoxide? Should we avoid that as well?

"hydrogen monoxide"? what is that?

What in the wold is hydrogen monoxide? I googled it and found this:
"Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) is a colorless and odorless chemical compound, also referred to by some as Dihydrogen Oxide, Hydrogen Hydroxide, Hydronium Hydroxide, or simply Hydric acid. Its basis is the highly reactive hydroxyl radical, a species shown to mutate DNA, denature proteins, disrupt cell membranes, and chemically alter critical." (http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html)
Next time, pick a chemical that (1) actually exists and (2) isn't dangerous to humans.

Thaaaaaaaat's a troll site,

Thaaaaaaaat's a troll site, to make fun of people who don't know chemistry. Dihydrogen monoxide - H2O - is water.

Able-ism is Taking a Man-Made Prob as Natural

The Argument from Exception derailment. Not literally everybody can do a rain barrel, but our numbers of those incapable of doing it are rising with every year most people refuse to do what they're capable of. Because the pollutants from doing production the wrong way are what's causing the congenital problems in humans.

But really I hear you loud and clear on the chemicalz! thing.

Ecofeminism Needs Encouraging Rhetoric

Yes, the environment and feminism need fighters. However, your article serves to promote a fear-based, punishing approach toward rallying those troops. I am among other ecofeminist here at PhiPlanet, and we know that the true fighters will come from a positively-reinforced campaign. We need to eliminate the negative diction and empower with positive rhetoric. Think Positive Reinforcement Behavior Systems - PBS- applied outside the school and in the garden. We have been following this blog for the past few weeks and we appreciated your encouraging DIY attitude in relation to permaculture and urban gardening. We hope you resume this spirit and continue to inspire Fertile Ground followers with the hope of individual actions and community engagement.

It won't happen. Her type

It won't happen. Her type gets off on feeling superior to the rest of us slobs.

inspiring piece

Thank you so much for posting such an inspiring article. You are so right: Each person can do whatever he or she is able to do and, if and when we do, we will far exceed our wildest dreams in terms of making this world a better, safer, healthier, happier place. Those who feel somehow "inferior" to someone who espouses more respoinsible choices are simply not thinking about either what this writer is actually saying and/or what effects their own actions have on their fellow humans and the environment. Bravo to this woman for "walking the walk." Just because I don't have the discipline (or knowledge) to make all the choices she makes doesn't mean I'm not doing everything I AM capable of doing,nor that she thinks she is better than me--or anyone else--or at least that's not at ALL what I got from reading this article. But what I did get is that I have the free will to live a more eco-conscious life and the inspiration to do better toward that end. Thank you, Ms. Parker, for your heartfelt, educational blog.

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