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How Ecofeminists Are Fighting For Mother Nature



“Sustainability is understanding that we are all connected, and acting accordingly.”


This is how Dr. Julia Mason, professor of Women and Gender studies at Grand Valley State University breaks down ecofeminism.


From mothering to physical reactions, and overall treatment, nature and women are more connected than we may realize, and ecofeminism suggests they both suffer from similar domination and exploitation. Oftentimes, we even refer to the earth as a woman.


As we wrap our heads around this theory, more ecofeminists are stepping in through social media to explain their views or promote businesses that take action.


Rather than a theory, a belief, or even a stretch, ecofeminism is actually a tool that challenges us to think about the social factors that lead to the paralleled abuse of women and the environment, such as toxins or economic decision making that prioritizes one socio-economic group over others and over the environmental needs of all species.


“It’s not a coincidence that we treat both the earth and actual women badly,” Mason said.


An example of focus for ecofeminists is maternal health. When the environment is contaminated with CO2 and harmful toxins, the mother’s womb and breast milk are inevitably contaminating the child too.


Women’s bodies also respond differently than men’s to rising levels of heat, which is how climate change also becomes another key area of focus in this branch of feminism.


“We have to think about how poor women and women of color have an additional toxic burden because of occupational hazards or where they live with more contaminants and less political or social power to keep those contaminants away from them,” Mason said.


Over a decade after Mason’s Grand Valley Ted Talk went viral on YouTube, ecofeminists are now leveraging the power of social media with newer platforms like TikTok and LinkedIn to speak out and protect women and the environment


Environmentalism and community advocate TikToker Mary Black, explains the similar subordination women and nature face.


“Ecofeminists believe that capitalism gives men dominance and access to resources not given to women,” Black said.


What exactly does she mean? In a political system where trade and industry are controlled largely by men, these private owners rely on inequality for large profits by exploiting the working classes, including women.


Ecofeminists stand for recognition of this oppression that women and nature both face, and take proactive measures to improve society.


She goes even further to recognize that “As our climate system continues to warm, so-called ‘brilliant people’ will have you believe there are only two options for humanity; extinction, or escape to another planet. But ecofeminism is a third option: stay here and protect Mother Earth,” Black said.



In addition to social media advocacy, ecofeminists often apply their everyday passions to businesses that ignite change. Take Mirella Rodrigues, for example, a Sustainable Fashion Designer, politician, and activist in Brazil. As head of Think Blue UpCycled, her objective is to prolong the life cycle of jeans that are discarded by the consumer to produce unique pieces.


”I got involved (with ecofeminism) when I started to study and work with sustainable fashion. I was already involved with feminism, and when I found ecofeminism, I felt myself represented in the cause because it fights for diverse minority groups,” Rodrigues said.


In fact, she specifically chooses to work with women and members of the LGBT community who have left the fashion industry, often as a result of exploitation, low wages, or lack of recognition.


To build an understanding of this theory, tool, or passion that we call ecofeminism, Rodrigues suggests looking for ecofeminist readings to think differently, and more critically.


“I believe that starting and seeing nature and non-humans (animals) as a fundamental part of our existence and survival on this planet, is a big step,” Rodrigues said.


In addition to the efforts of independent ecofeminists and entrepreneurs, larger companies are continuing to produce eco-friendly products while simultaneously supporting women.


Take The Women’s Bean Project, for example, a nonprofit that provides sustainable solutions to unemployed and poverty-stricken women.


When hired, they work in manufacturing, making, and packaging all the products. The program allows them to grow into a career-building entry job. They also offer 60 total hours of career and life skills classes, as well as group sessions.


According to the Women’s Bean Project, “We help women develop stability, build crucial skills, and set goals that will carry into the next chapter.”


The Women’s Bean Project is also making strides to have a positive environmental impact by using and teaching women about the recycled materials used for packaging their products, such as bean soup.


“The beans put nitrogen and nutrients back into the soil and help the farmer who grows them succeed. The Women’s Bean Project similarly nourishes women by giving them the skills and confidence they need to succeed,” The Women's Bean Project CEO Tanra Ryan said in a conversation with BardMBA.


While Ecofeminism is not a well-known concept, Internet personalities, entrepreneurs, and companies are putting the labels aside and recognizing the various connections between women and nature to actively fight for change. Whether they know it or not, this makes them an ecofeminist ally.


 

About the Author

Jeana Prudhomme


Jeana Prudhomme is a Communications professional, as well as the Founder and Editor of Respect Your Mother Magazine. She received B.A in Communications from Alverno College in 2017, and a M.A in New Media and Professional Writing in the Spring of 2022. After years of focusing on solutions journalism and non-fiction writing related to feminism and sustainability, she has created art from her passions in the form of this ecofeminist magazine.

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