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Ecofeminism

In this video course contributor Tarryn Williams shares clips from their lecture on Ecofeminism.

Hello everyone! This is Tarryn, in this video, I’ll be introducing the concept of Ecofeminism, a movement that recognises the potential for productive crossovers between the campaign for gender and sexual equality, and climate activism. We’ll be exploring its core principles of connection, care and empathy, how we can use these as tools to rethink our relationship with nature, and build more sustainable futures.

Many contemporary feminist movements have established that our capitalist, patriarchal society is organised to ensure a singular figure holds the most power — the white, cis-gendered, heterosexual male. Anyone whose identity deviates from this idealised Human figure is therefore subjected to many forms of inequality in political and social contexts.

Ecofeminism identifies the connections between different marginalised groups of human beings, and extends them towards other life forms which are also subjected to human control and supremacy — nature and technology. All of these are referred to under the term ‘non-human’, referencing the dehumanising experience of this dominance.

This connection has helped us recognise that racism, sexism and homophobia relate to other issues which stem from the same oppressive systems; Ecofeminists argue that this includes human beings’ disregard for animal and plant life on Earth, and that this has ultimately caused the climate crisis we now face.

As explained in the video, and explored here in an article from LGBTQ+ magazine ‘them’, marginalised people — and in this specific case, queer folk—, have always been found marching at the forefront of different social activist movements, including those not connected to their own identities, and environmental activism as well (1). Why do we think this is?

Marginalised existence is largely characterised (though not defined, it should be said!) by the fight for survival in a system that prevents equal access to basic needs, such as healthcare, housing, and financial stability; according to Shelter, Black people in the UK are more than three times as likely to face homelessness than white people (2); and while 25% of British people a year will experience a mental health issue, this statistic rises to 52% for the LGBTQIA+ community. Anything that causes further threat to life feels most critical to those already struggling to get by, which is why tackling the climate crisis feels especially urgent to our communities.

Though these statistics paint a difficult picture, Ecofeminism recognises that this struggle to survive has made those living on the margins of society adaptable, creative and disruptive out of necessity, meaning they are the ideal candidates for rethinking how we approach our uncertain future and create radical change.

It also celebrates the feminine-coded qualities of care and emotion, which certainly have not been the foundations for building political and economic models thus far. It’s through using our innate sense of empathy that we can (re)connect with the struggles of non-humans of all kinds, and recognise the damage we have done to each other and to our Earth. This change of mindset is vital for initiating truly caring, equalising, sustainable, climate-conscious action, policy-making and innovation for the future.

Discussion Prompt

While Ecofeminism’s roots are as a philosophical and spiritual concept, I see it as a way of thinking about sustainability on new and very real terms. Think about the example I gave in the video of Low-Tech Magazine (which you can read more about here) and then discuss: What are some practical applications of the Ecofeminist principles that could help us shape a more sustainable future?

References

  1. Eve Ettinger, 2021. The Next Generation of Climate Activists Is Queer, Them.
  2. Shelter, 2020. Black people are more than three times as likely to experience homelessness.
  3. Stonewall, 2018. LGBT in Britain Health Report

Video References

Low Tech Magazine.

Vedas & Ecofeminism – In Conversation with Vandana Shiva.

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