Ecofeminism embraces the idea that the oppression of women and the oppression or destruction of nature are closely connected. Elements of the feminist movement, the peace movement and the environmentalist and green movements can be seen in ecofeminism. Activist, educator and author Ynestra King went so far as to call ecofeminism "the third wave of the feminist movement". The term was coined in 1974 from the French feminist Francoise d'Eaubonne's work, "Le féminisme ou la mort." Feminism can be defined as the thought and movement toward the political, economic and social equality of women and men. Ecology is the study of the relationship between human groups and their physical and social environments. Some ecofeminist writers unabashedly believe such oppression is patriarchal while others choose to imply that it is. Either way, the link being made between women and nature is evident. But while some ecofeminists view the link between woman and nature as empowering, others believe it's imposed by patriarchy and is degrading. Those who see the association as empowering generally assert that women are closer to nature because of their positions as mothers or homemakers. As a result, they conclude that because women take care of their families and homes, they'll be more aware of environmental issues than men.
The people who view the association as degrading generally state that man will continue to exploit women and nature because man sees both as eternally fertile or endlessly capable of providing life. The ecofeminist movement quickly gained momentum in the U.S. Ynestra King and activist Grace Paley were among the women who organized the "Women and Life on Earth" conference at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1980. After the success of a conference at Sonoma State University the following year, a group of eight women formed the first national ecofeminist organization Woman Earth. Ecofeminists address issues like water pollution, deforestation, toxic waste dumping, agricultural development and sustainability, animal rights and nuclear weapons policies. Ecofeminist literature asserts that the notion of power must be restructured. Collaborative relationships should be nurtured instead of a power dynamic. Underlying much of the activism is the aim of creating an interconnected community, absent of patriarchal or other forms of hierarchy. An ultimate goal might be described as a reality where all life commands its own essential value. No matter the differing approaches or schools of thought, one thing is certain; ecofeminism is a global, multi-issued movement with an ever-growing community of activists and theorists. Throughout our history nature is portrayed as feminine and women are often thought of as closer to nature than men. Women's physiological connection with birth and childcare has partly led to this close association with nature. The menstrual cycle, which is linked to lunar cycles, is also seen as evidence of women's closeness to the body and natural rhythms. Our cultural image of the 'premenstrual woman' as irrational and overemotional typifies this association between women, the body, nature and the irrational. Many cultures, women have historically held the role of primary food, fuel and water gatherer for their families and communities. Because of this, they have also had a major interest in trying to prevent or undo the effects of deforestation, desertification and water pollution. In 1974, a group of about thirty women in the Himalayas of Northern India united to save more than 10,000 square miles of forest watershed. Deforestation in the Himalayan forests had caused landslides, flooding and major soil erosion and had forced women villagers to hike further up the mountains to gather fuel. Now known as the Chipko Movement, Hindi for "to cling," the name reflected the protesters' practice of throwing their arms around the trunks of trees marked for chopping and refusing to move. This...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document