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  • Trisha Bhattacharya

Echoing with Ecofeminism!

"What's this now? As if feminism wasn't enough..."


Well, feminism is an umbrella term so you might be relieved that this one is not a new theory feminists are imposing on you in 2021. It's been nearly 50 years since ecofeminism was formally introduced.

Ecofeminism is an ideology that links back environmental degradation to patriarchy, social injustices. Masculinity that embraces dominance and toughness turns out to be toxic, not just for humans, but also for the environment we live in. Are you confused yet?

Lets go over its principles?

  1. The oppression of marginalized groups and nature traces back to one common cause- Male dominance which values hardcore masculinity (quite literally) over anything too feminine such as caring for the nature or basically caring too much for anything like men are not supposed to carry emotions. DUH. Are they humans or what? Probably why they call it Mother Earth. Ecofeminism prioritizes nurturing and kindness.

  2. All forms of brutality makes up a vicious circle- The marginalized groups- women, people of color (POC), LGBTQ+ be they getting sidetracked due to inequity, improper health conditions or just simply reduced to a nobody, get affected the most, even more so by climate change. I was shocked to find out certain stats- Nearly half of the heat-related deaths in New York from 2000 to 2012 were Black people, for example, and communities of color breathe 38% more polluted air than white folks on average. If our activism leaves out certain communities, then who are we fighting for? Its often regarded that popular movements are mostly white people- led, white environmentalism just like white feminism doesn't work. For things to really bring in change, we need voices from every corner of the world to be heard, be more inclusive, talk about everyone's problems so that we can provide personalized comfort and solutions for them.

  3. Having established the connections, we need to understand them now- It is really important to understand how gender impacts the climate, gender is a social construct, not the biological sex. Someone might identify with one gender on the inside, feel different than what society expects them to and that may not be visible to the others. The actions caused due to living in denial can be really damaging for the society itself.

  4. The people most affected by environmental destruction must be the ones to lead the movement- "It is the people who must save the environment. It is the people who must make their leaders change."- Wangari Maathai. Diverse leadership can prove transformational. The forefronts of the movement should include indigenous women who are the most vulnerable to the maximum problems bringing them more close to the solutions.

SOME STATS TO GO WITH TO HOLD PATRIARCHY ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE DAMAGED CAUSED TO THE ENVIRONMENT:

I was shocked to find out the gender gap in climate actions: This is a study talking, not me.

  • Women litter less

  • They recycle more

  • They eat less meat

  • They are more likely to buy an electric car

  • They are more concerned about the environment, and vote accordingly

  • Women leave a smaller carbon footprint

You can definitely question these facts, but here’s why they exist. Well, under the patriarchy, women and girls are expected to be more selfless and socially responsible than men. They hone a value system which is considered to be inbuilt in girls and they tend to grow up into an empathetic individual. Please leave the exceptions aside. Men who are consumed by toxic masculinity refrain from such acts in case they seem too touchy and sensitive destroying their manhood. If men don’t take eco-friendly actions due to consciousness of being regarded feminine, will ‘manly’ branding of environmental-friendly products do the needful? Also, in 2021, if you are more insecure of your machismo than climate change, you are plain stupid.


LET’S GET OVERWHELMED WITH SOME MORE STATS, SHALL WE?

  • It is women who make up 80% of people displaced by climate change.

  • It is women who are 14 times more likely to die during natural disasters (rural women are confined to homes thus spread of information is from men to men).

  • It is women who are more likely to be poor, making it more difficult for them to recover from disasters (victim of unemployment, overburdened responsibilities, sexual harassments, child marriage).

  • Women account for just over 20% of the authors on recent reports for the International Panel on Climate Change (the world’s leading scientific body on climate change).

  • Women account for less than 30% of most major national and global climate change negotiating bodies.

WHAT DO ECOFEMINISTS WANT?

According to them, all forms of oppression are interconnected. We pit ourselves against each other as humans, and as humans against non-human nature- all due to an age-old hierarchial system which deems people with (muscle) power as the ones who are capable of domination, destruction, violence. It affects the surroundings as much as it does to the ones who are considered to be on the lower rungs of the social scale. Human exploitation of the environment causes extinction of flora and fauna, depletion and tainting of necessary resources, and widespread environmental catastrophes like climate change. Ecofeminists want to heal and maintain a healthy earth.


WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Exercise equality among ALL people, animals, and the environment, don’t misuse your power to dominate. Choose your words and actions carefully such that it doesn’t turn out to be abusive verbally or physically while interacting with any living creature. Cut out the aggression and sexism from yourself.


CRITICISMS AND RELEVANCE OF ECOFEMINISM

Ecofeminism is about equating the characteristics of a woman to that of nature. It considers how the feminine qualities are meant to nurture and tend to solving problems. But this arises another thought. If a movement like ecofeminism distinguishes and labels certain characteristics to a particular sex, then how is patriarchy any different from it? It is falling prey to the very concept feminists are fighting against. But from contradiction emerges solutions as well. So, how is it still relevant today? We, each have our own combination of feminine and masculine qualities, whether we are male or female.

For sustainability of the ideology we need women who share a close relationship with nature join it, like the indigenous women who have to walk miles to get water just because nearby water sources have been depleted due to human exploitation.

Give a damn about your existence, man!

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