Intersectionality and Connectivity

The ecofeminist interconnected web perspective discusses the lack of “intersectionality” in some of the writings of feminist scholars. That is, the differences any woman/ feminists (regardless to race, gender, class, etc.), have in connection to ecology and their perspective on “discrimination, oppression, and identity of women” (King, 64). For instance, an ecofeminist who was born and grew up in a Western country would have a different ecofeminist perspective, than that of one who was born in the Global South.  In the same breath, women in the Global South also have a responsibility to acknowledge differences in their own groups. Within this stance, ecofeminist intersectionality then spreads its web on to a “political perspective” where ecofeminists might advocate for democracy, freedom or solidarity. In the same arena where this is happening, we would see women of different social structures, that would form a “socioeconomic perspective”.   As it follows, women are interconnected for many different reasons but when it comes to intersectionality, these reasons become separate issues.

When discussing women in the Global South, Western feminists’ scholars tend to ethnocentrically tailor Third World women down to “victims”, because of the differences in cultural views on oppression.  From an environmental standpoint, ecofeminists in the Global South have an interconnection to land which is dominated by a hierarchal society, in the same way that women are. As we’ve learned in assignments prior to this one, women’s connection to nature definitely puts them at the forefront of dangerous circumstances. And this means that women in the Global South are subjected to exploitation, simply by protecting their land from environmental degradation due to development projects.  Compassion and empathy should be the most important aspect for Western feminists’ scholars who write about this type of oppression.  However, there tends to be an arrogance that comes across in textual depictions of Third World women.  An observation that King discussed is the “complexity” of these oppressions, in that they need to be analyzed through different lens.  In part two of Kings analysis, she describes “inaugurated intersectionality”, which is “an intra-categorical approach that focuses on particular social groups at “neglected points of intersection” (1774) and is typically used in case studies. Whereas an inter-categorical approach accepts (strategically at least) the current constitution of social groups in order to examine the changes in the inequalities between social categories, this approach is not concerned with understanding or challenging the definition or depiction of groups but rather with quantifying the relationships and inequalities between socially constructed categories” (Kings, 67).  Put this way, women’s oppression in the Global South would not be misrepresented in Western feminist discourse but by the element of “intersectionality”.  Which means that that the categorical tools that Kings mention, would thereby help us understand why subordination is not universal.

Another reason why I think it is important for ecofeminist scholars to do proper research, is to help their causes.  For instance, I learned that there is diversity in the “political perspective” of ecofeminism, “liberalism, Marxism, socialism, radical feminism, indigenous and spiritual politics, anarchism, and social ecology.  And each political perspective provides a different answer to questions about the nature of ecofeminist activism, green politics, and ecofeminism political philosophy” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). This explains that the world as well as our environment is continuously changing but it should also evolve, by showing that issues women face are not the same. Environmental policies would need to be reworked in order for them to properly facilitate women who are marginalized in all societies.  One way Kings paper makes light of this is in her example of intersectionality, described in scholastic writings from feminists such as Audrey Lorde who uses an “intra-categorical” approach that “provides an acknowledgement of the flaws within our understanding of social categories, while also recognizing the current structures of oppression and the power structures responsible for them” (Kings, 68).  Kings point is that Lorde’s analysis “intra” – from a political perspective not only reads into marginalized groups in order to understand them but also deconstructs the exploitation, in the lives of different women or social groups, regardless to race, gender, culture, etc.

“Socioeconomic” discussion in the perspective of ecofeminists scholars like Shiva, who in one instance, “inter-categorized” the lives of women in the Third World (Africa and Asia) by omitting.  SEP’s recount in Shiva’s discourse of women in Africa and Asia talks about post-colonization;  “the colonizers replaced native food crops and forests with such monoculture crops as sunflowers, eucalyptus, and teak, which were cash crops created primarily for export…By destroying subsistence economies, maldevelopment projects created material poverty where, before, there had been none.  According to Shiva, it thereby contributed to the very real “feminization of poverty”, subordination of women, and degradation of nature” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).  Even reading the entire text, there was no mention of the other aspects of feminization of poverty to which Kings explained.
In another instance, Shiva’s discourse of post-colonization somewhat conflicts with the “intra-categorical” perspective of subordination in the lives of women in India.  Kings, paper compares other Third World feminists/ ecofeminist scholarly writings such as Agarwal and Dechamma, with Shiva’s.  In it, she describes the issue that the women had with Shiva’s discourse of Third World women that she fails to mention all the facts regarding the subjugation of women.  “Agarwal and Sowmya Dechamma (2011) have noted that Shiva has ignored pre-existing inequalities such as “caste, class, power, privilege, and property relations which predate colonialism” (Agarwal in Rao 2012, 130), all of which are likely to have had a significant role in the creation of current systems of domination”.  These difference are crucial if we need to break down and understand them.

Intersectionality breaks down the perspective in ecofeminism to show that women face environmental degradation in many ways and on a global scale, women’s oppression are measured base on their environment.  Using tools such “categories” would help deconstruct different types of subordination thereby breaking the barriers that separate women on a whole.  Kings “nodal point” in turn, truly exabit that understanding one another’s background would teach us how we can lend a hand to women who need it. “It allows for the cross-examination of issues from differing theoretical backgrounds using a wide range of methodological approaches, which as part of a larger post-structuralist project: attempts to deconstruct categories and unveil the universalism at play in ecofeminist and feminist scholarship” (King, 66).

Annotated Bibliography

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-environmental/#ChaEco

Feminist Environmental Philosophy
First published Fri Aug 29, 2014; substantive revision Mon Apr 27, 2015

I chose this source because it helped me understand the different perspectives in ecofeminist philosophy. It comprised of many different areas that relate to intersectionality of ecofeminist scholars as well as background information that shed light on the writings of Kings.

State Government


Norgaard and York’s discourse is about interconnection to the exploitation of women and nature, as it relates to politics. Part of the “empirical” evaluation (male/female researchers) focused in on inequality having to do with gender and the impact it have on how women in some states are able to gain positions in parliament which allows them to push for environmental safety.  Heavy emphasis on this selection displayed how the roles of women being caretakers of the home, family and the community, plays a part in representation when it came to state environmentalism. Their analysis not only covered how the “gender gap” pertaining to the environment differed from state to state and highlighted “the numerical impact” which largely depends on economic data.  But it also showed that “if women tend to be more environmentally progressive, the inclusion of women as well as members of society – as voters, citizens, policy makers and social movement participants – should positively influence behavior” (Norgaard, York; 508). The thought process was that women would have a voice, particularly in national legislative council which could empower a more constructivist balance for gender and the environment.  However, (and as stated above) Norgaard and York argued that this view could be an optimistic one, simply because women are indeed seen as “nurturers and caretakers”, less being part of a political body.

Following part of their study, Norgaard and York’s outlook of feminist theory saw links of oppression centered on socio-economic factors (gender, race, class). A revelation of “ecofeminists links between gender and environmental behavior of nations-states goes beyond gender equality to social equality more generally” (Norgaard, York 518). The data showed a prevalence in gender inequality and environmental degradation, particularly in poor states such as Singapore, as “wealth and modernization” was above environmental protection. Whereas, states such as Norway, in spite gender differences, women were able to bring their initiative for environmental protection to policy and law. They stated that for this reason, “Norway continues to take the lead on this convention and many other environmental issues and currently has one of the highest rates of participation of women in government in the world…Singapore provides a contrast with Norway in several respects, particularly on levels of gender equality and environmental treaty ratification. Therefore, Singapore’s environmental record is generally poor, even beyond the failure of treaty ratification” (Norgaard, York; 517). They concluded their report by discussing how “global efforts aimed at developing environmental policies should therefore concentrate more on improving the status of women, including especially those efforts aimed at increasing women’s political representation” (Norgaard, York; 519).

The “Paris Agreement” is an example of how women can make a global difference in climate change/ environmental degradation. The agreement is one that was made to prevent global temperatures from rising causing damage due to carbon and other greenhouse gases. Women’s participation was critical to the agreement for many reasons including “1) Women, especially poor women in developing countries, are often the most vulnerable to climate impacts as a result of social structures and existing inequalities, 2) Women are more likely than men to engage in environmentally sensitive behaviors, such as recycling, conserving water and using environmentally friendly products, and 3) UNDP’s 2011 Human Development Report found evidence that when gender inequality is high, forest depletion, air pollution and other measures of environmental degradation are also high” (Durham, Elwell and Elliott, World Resources Institute). Another example of how women make a difference is that of the “Green New Deal” which has a plan to convert/renew energy. Similar to the Paris Agreement, it’s another example of how women right here in the US combat political environmental issues. Women like Rhianna Gunn-Wright and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez present ways in which we can combat climate change with renewable energy. The women had a heavy hand in the implementation of a bill called the “Green New Deal”. “It seeks to solve the climate crisis by combining quick action to get to net- zero greenhouse gas emissions and 100% renewable energy by 2030 along with an “Economic Bill of Rights” – the right to single-payer healthcare, a guaranteed job at a living wage, affordable housing and free college education” (Germain Starr, T; GP.org).

The above examples links to Norgaard and York’s research in that women advocate for women  poor or helpless) in the fight against environmental degradation.   In both cases womens participation in politics was to influence high levels of policy making, which helped develop economic balance for the country as well as their communities.

 I chose the following statistic because it illustrates what Norgaard and York’s research found; “societies with greater representation of women in Parliament are more prone to ratify environmental treaties” (Norgaard, York; 512). This image is the opposite of what we should be seeking but it also states the facts, and although it was taken in 2017 still has not changed that much. This means that more women is needed in order for global environmental reform to take place in way that supports the needs of women, not just in the Global South but all states.

 

Annotated Bibliography:

Courtney Durham, Natalie Elwell and Cynthia Elliott – November 11, 2016
https://www.wri.org/blog/2016/11/womens-leadership-critical-securing-paris-agreement-essential-fulfilling-it

Courtney Durham, Natalie Elwell and Cynthia Elliott discussed how women in the Paris agreement made a difference in the negotiations.  The article also showed how the activists contributions promoted social justice for climate change.

Bodies

Although abortion could be a very broad topic, I believe it mostly surrounds economic factors. On one side of the debate there is pro-choice, and on the other pro-life. While both can vary as to definitions, there is also a misconception that an abortion is essentially murder, and with stigmas like this, the choice to have an abortion or not, is not a decision that is made lightly. As I try to understand pro-life/ pro-choice, the real issue that seems to be at the forefront is “reproductive justice”. This is because, pre Roe v Wade, when women were fighting for the right to have an abortion, they were essentially fighting for equality in making decisions as well as the choice for what they want to do with their own bodies; meaning the prevention of pregnancy as well as the termination. However, it seems that these rights are not recognized as such, the focus then becomes “the want” vs. “the need” relating to abortion and the environment we are in.

According to IEP, a woman having an abortion for social or financial reasons, is not pragmatic, it is “deliberate” because “she wants to have an abortion by virtue of her bad financial and social background because she fears that she will be unable to offer the child an appropriate life perspective” (IEP). Yet without the woman having the last word I feel that this does not justify that the decision should not be hers. In her article Velanti helps to argue Pollit’s point (book), that women should be able to decide if and when the want children. In it she states that “the ability to control if and when we parent determines how we participate in society. Yes, women can be mothers while being lawyers or senators or students. But those of us who became parents after the widespread availability of birth control and the ruling in Roe v Wade were largely able to decide when to have children” (Valenti). The idea of this point is that, should a woman become pregnant she does not have to be a housewife (if that is not the path she chooses); or depend on a man or governmental help because financially she can’t provide for herself or child. The pro-choice logic here is based on “wants” and the quality of her life with or without children. And this could have to do with many factors: marriage, education, religion, culture, etc.

One of the pragmatic reasons I definitely agree with is in the case of rape. On one hand it is argued that “it would be cruel and callous to force the pregnant woman who had been raped to give birth to a child”… and on the other, the woman has no right to abort the fetus even if she had been raped and got pregnant against her will (IEP). I do not agree with the latter for the reasons given, that being “the fetus does not have rights”. The fact is that if a child is conceived by rape, then there is a high chance that if the mother gives birth and keeps the child, she would be fill with hate toward that child. And even if the child is given up for adoption, there is no telling what kind of life he/she would have. Who decides then, and where would the money come from to take care of that child? Again, this pro-choice decision should be base as a “need” mainly due to psychological impacts on the mother and child.

Although these pragmatic reasons are good ones, there is also the other side of the coin – varying circumstances. We are living in a world that is already overpopulated and this is getting worse. Hawkins partly attributes overpopulation to the effects of environmental crisis in “Third World” countries”. “A growing number of poor people are forced to make a living on increasingly marginal land, with resultant deforestation, overgrazing, soil erosion, or an assortment of other environmental problems further exacerbating their poverty and often leading them to repeat the process elsewhere” (Hawkins, 691). In it she makes light of the fact that a woman’s decision to abort is not always a good one because of improper access to do so, due to “institutional or social reasons” (Hawkins, 691). By contrast, The US is a rich state and women not only have a choice but also have rights to fight should her choices be denied. For example, most overpopulated communities here in the US are minorities – people of color, or white due to class or status. So in the fight for justice, “The Reproductive Justice movement recognizes that healthy decisions about sexuality, relationships, childbearing and childrearing are facilitated by conditions of social, political, economic and spiritual power” (National Women’s Law Center).

With all of facts that women should have the decision for pro-choice/pro-life comes with great consequences to them as well as the environment, it still does not make some conditions suitable. The true fact is that the environment is being destroyed because it is overpopulated due to environmental degradation. “Both EJ (environmental justice) and RJ (reproductive justice) reject any “solution” to the problems of poverty and environmental degradation that focus solely on individual choices rather than remedying the underlying causes. Improved socioeconomic and environmental conditions result in reduced infant and maternal mortality (National Women’s Law Center). One thing that can be done, starting right here in the US is “support the right of all parents to raise their children in healthy environments by advocating for the equitable distribution of green space, walking and biking trails, and playgrounds in low-income communities” (National Women’s Law Center).

Annotated Bibliography

The National Women’s Law Center – https://nwlc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/FactSheetEnvironmentalJusticeandReproJustice.pdf

The National Women’s Law Center is focused on advocating for women regardless of circumstance. This includes pro-choice/ pro-life decisions. The goal is that every woman has the right to have and raise children in a healthy environment, not one that is being destroyed.

Woman-Nature Association

The images I chose implicitly as well as explicitly discriminates women and animals. Thereby sexualizing women as objects and associating them with animals, dehumanizes them at the expense of dead animals. This is exactly what women have been running from most of their lives and, why feminist movements have been trying to bring change. So the negative images and behavior is exactly what the “Me Too Movement” entails. Talshir, an Israel news writer, makes light of the abuse of women in connection to that of animals:

“The unique aspect of the #metoo movement is the personal way in which each woman can attest to the sexual violence she experienced. This is the essential difference between the feminist struggle and the fight for animal rights – as women, we fight for ourselves. But in our struggle for animal rights, our testimony to the violence they experience will always be second-hand, testimony as observers” (Talshir, Haaretz.com).

In the first image, what is seen as a chicken on plates, looks like it’s being prepared to be eaten.  It is a portrayal of what is said to be “food”, as well as a helpless woman in “bondage”. The faceless chicken is tied from the waist down to long, lean legs and thighs, the string is then wrapped around the hips down to the buttocks.

Similar to the chicken, the second image is also faceless and looks like either part of a butchered cow or pig.  It is scantily dressed sexy, wearing a corset that shows cleavage, a stamp that could be seen as a tattoo on the breast, and low-rise jeans mini skirt.  In our society both images are seen as food however, the darker side to them are much more obvious, especially because they are sexually suggestive.   The story these images convey is that women as well as animals are no more than an object – that being a piece of meat.  As we’ve learned, images like these depicts enslavement as well as domination of women in a patriarchal world, mainly due to the sexually provocative nature of the images.  We’ve also learned misogyny and speciesism is tied to the consumption of meat by men.  Additionally, manipulating women and animals is seen as the norm in our society, making us desensitized by the images.

The third image shows a person with a shopping basket that has all plant-based protein items, looking at a men’s magazine. The magazine cover shows off a muscular man, as well as wording on how a man would look if he eats protein in the form of meat. It describees “28 ways to turn chicken into muscle”, “the best steak you’ve never tasted”, and “how meat can make you immortal”.  Conversely, this image objectifies meat by stating that “real men” eat “real meat” not fake meat like the “tofurky bars” (in the shopping basket)

By standing back to look at the picture, it becomes clear that we will implode  by our own disdain for life itself.  The condition of the cow and the fear in the eyes says it all; she (or he) sees death coming. Adams “False Mass Terms” describes “the most efficient way to insure that humans do not care about the lives of animals is to transform non-human subjects into non-human objects” (Adams, 6).  In other word, when an animal has been turned into meat it becomes food, so we no longer associate it with “being” or an animal for that matter but as a “product.  Better yet, we do not see our meat as animals because we choose not to; when we see it that way we will realize that we are eating something we shouldn’t be eating.  But why don’t we realize we are wrong anyway right? Adams explains, the “False Mass term as short-hand – “Because they are not like us” (Adams, 6).  By definition, they don’t look like us, behave like us and, they do not have feelings.  In her article, she also related this this to racism, pointing out that racism as well as the way immigrants issues are handled, are both seen in under the same lens.  Looking in an animal’s eyes (particularly this one), should awaken “compassion” in us.  It should make us question ourselves and the decisions we make to turn animals into food – like meat on our plate, and we have the nerve to call ourselves healthy.  Per Adams, “to care that one have courage to break from the normalizing ideology screen, it’s ok if it’s an X but not a Y” (Adams, 10).  In that, we become disconnected with the animal so we can “do what we gotta do” but in that process we also disconnect from ourselves.

Sexualizing meat with images of women is one issue, killing animals turning them into food is another, however both are still being exploited.  In this case, “it’s clear that parallels can be found, first of all, in exposing the injustices, on one hand sexual violence we have experienced, and on the other, the violence animals have experienced” (Talshir).  In advocating for animals we are also advocating for ourselves.  I mean, think about it, there are some thing that are just not meant to be eaten and for so many reasons – two most important, ethical as well as health.  And as Adams puts it, “the question in animal advocacy has become muddled about whether the issue is the suffering or whether it is the death of the animal that matters” (Adams Interview, 14).  For me, there are so many things morally wrong with these images and they are so hard to “unsee”. This and others like it over the past few weeks, is why I have not been able to meat and I’m not sure I can bring myself to do so in the future. It’s not that I’ve never heard about animal farms but learning about the abuse of animals has saddened me, hopefully “stared straight”.

Annotated Bibliography:

Talshir, Rachel. “When #MeToo Meets the Meat Industry: The Links Between Feminism and Animal Rights March 8, 2018,
https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/culture/MAGAZINE-metoo-and-meat-the-links-between-feminism-and-animal-rights-1.5886654

Rachel Talshir is a reporter for Israel news. Her article was relevant to the topic of “Woman Nature Association” because it deals with women being objectified in by men just as animals. Talshir, interviews animal rights activist Shira Hertzano to have a better understanding of the similarities of the intersection.

Vegetarian Ecofrminism

This particular image was chosen to point out genderism of food choices in our society.  The puff-man seen carving into the dead animal with one foot on the cutting board may represents entitlement, power and control.  Although this is just an image it actually says a lot about our social norms, where everything has a role – we associate food in derogatory terms with identity – sex, gender, race, culture etc.   “So does meat make the man?….Meat still being the manly” choice, it becomes even harder for male consumers to opt for a meat-free lifestyle, even if they supported it in theory.  It’s hard to shift an individual’s perception without first tackling their society’s view” (Eisenberg).

Cultures differs when it comes to gendered foods but in the US especially, men identify meat eating with “masculinity”.  This is what they were taught growing up, “eat like a man” (Eisenberg), meaning eat more protein to look muscular.   This is not healthy eating, it’s one that encourages obesity in men and starvation in women by “fat shaming” them into eating foods such as salads or yogurt to stay skinny.  The practice here is that men must eat meat, which means we undervalue nutrition and instead are more concerned with identifying food with appearance.   Eisenberg’s article makes light of the fact that when it comes to meat in US culture, “not all men find meat-free to be a hit to their mojo” (Eisenberg).  This implies that some men want to make the change, some for health reasons others because they want to but is hard.  This lets us know that we should be worried more about changing the dynamics of “genderism” pertaining to our behavior with meat.

Another issue that we deal with when it comes to food that are claimed to be “gendered”, is the lack of understanding for what these foods entails.  For instance, I think foods such as quinoa is considered to be a gendered food because women, more than men tend to like it.  Also, because it is a plant-based food that can be used in salads, light dishes and is a great source of protein for vegetarians, which most men aren’t.  Women’s Health Magazine, labels it a “superfood” because of it’s tremendous health benefits – “nutty, nutritious, and filling, quinoa is one of only a few plant-based foods that provides complete protein, meaning it contains all of the amino acids your body requires—no additions needed ”(Sara Faye Green,).  Not only that, but it is a great source of fiber.

So why do I consider quinoa to be a gendered food?  Because of its origins.  Although it has only became a popular “superfood” in the US in recent years, it’s considered  to be the “mother grain” in the Incan culture.  “Quinoa is native to the Andes Mountains of Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. This crop has been called 41 vegetable caviar” or Inca rice, and has been eaten continuously for 5,000 years by people who live on the mountain plateaus and in the valleys of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile. Quinua means “mother grain” in the Inca language.” (hot.purdue.edu).  These countries are still struggling to be developed and farming is one of the strengths so grains like quinoa is how they make a living (women in particular). However, competing, commercial markets are trying take away their way of life by producing the crop via factory farming. “Not least, acknowledgment of the value of “underutilized and neglected species” NUS in traditional foods and cultures can empower indigenous communities (women in particular) and reaffirm their identity” (Emma McDonnel, NCLA).

Ecofeminists perception to non-human animals and our relations to them are no different than that of the exploitation as well as despotism of women.  The correlation with the two stems from the fact that animals are considered “less than”.  This is illustrated in the barbaric treatment toward animals, and women.  Curtain sees it in the sense that we should not eat animals unless absolutely necessary – “Though I am committed to moral vegetarianism, I cannot say that I would never kill an animal for food” (Curtain).  However, Gaards view has more to do with the relationship we have with animals.  In that, “no matter how much we love the animals we take into our homes and into our hearts, our relationship with them is always unequal” (Gaard).  Both perspectives share the similar views for animals as they relate to women.  Yet Curtain’s “ecofeminist ethic of care” brings empathy to animals and women due to the mistreatment.  Whereas Gaard feels that we are “complicit” in the mistreatment and lack awareness in the relationships we have with animals, simply because they are pets.

Eisenberg, Zoe. “Meat Heads”, Jan 13, 2017, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/meat-heads-new-study-focuses_b_8964048

Curtin, Deane. “Contextual Moral Vegetarianism ‘Toward an Ecological Ethic of Care’.”, Hypathia, No. 6, spring 1991, pp. 68-71, http://www.animal-rights-library.com/texts-m/curtin01.htm

Faye Green, Sara. “This Is How Much Protein Is In A Cup Of Quinoa”, SEP 27, 2017, https://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/a19938205/what-is-quinoa/

Gaard, Gretta. “Ecofeminism on the Wing: Perspectives on Human-Animal Relations”, 2001, https://www.academia.edu/2489929/Ecofeminism_on_the_Wing_Perspectives_on_Human-Animal_Relations

McDonnel, Emma. “The Quinoa Boom Goes Bust in the Andes”, March 12 2018, https://nacla.org/news/2018/03/12/quinoa-boom-goes-bust-andes

 

Understanding Place

“I need only someplace where I could think straight, remember, and properly invent. I need the blessed emptiness of mind that comes from birdsong and dripping trees.  I needed to sleep at night in a square box made of chestnut trees who died of natural causes”
(Barbara Kingslover, Knowing Our Place).

Living in the city for most of my life is great but I also yearn for peace and serenity that comes from real nature. The best way for me to capture “somewhat” of the beauty that the wilderness has to offer is my art or by taking naturistic city photos.  Then I have a memory of all of the beauty that have crossed my path at some time or another, some that I never imagined would be so majestic.  But then, I have to pause and remember that THERE IS naturistic beauty all around us, no matter where we are, even in the city, on a gloomy day.

Kingslovers theory that “we need wilderness” is quite TRUE – “we sing the song of our home because we are animals, and an animal is no better or wiser or safer than its own habitat and it’s food chain” (Kingslover).  We live in what we became comfortable with, and for some it’s urban areas, like NYC, SF, Boston. This in turn makes us function accordingly; busy, movers and shakers. However, people who live in rural places like the country where there are lakes and not much buildings, cars, or much of any developed structures, seem to be more relaxed.  Depending on perception, there is “privilege” on both sides whether wilderness or city life.

When I think of peace and serenity, the things that comes to mind are green trees, mountains, beautifully flowing water, animals like horses and butterflies, etc. This is because these are the natural things that reminds me of who I am, and that I am part of mother earth.  Peace and serenity to me is also a spiritual state of mind that I have in connection with nature. And therefore, I’ve came to understand that even when I am not in the wilderness of nature, there is nature all around me at home or in the liminal places of the city.  But there is a significant difference between manmade nature such as planted trees, beautiful plants and things that are manicured vs. real nature made.  So, the feeling I get when I look at nature in the city, is not the same feeling I get from being in the wilderness.  Which makes me realize that there is still a missing part to peace and serenity that is influenced by the wilderness.

I think that the roles women play in their lives, mother, wife caretakers largely depend not just on how we are viewed in society, but largely on how we understand ourselves. I say this because our diverse environments play a role in nature relating to culture, which helps us develop our personalities. For example, if I’m out having an awful time or feeling sick, the place I think about the most is the comfort of my home.  As it follows, this is where my personality is different and I am more relaxed. Yet when I’m home and having a bad day, I tend to think about the places that brings me the most comfort and I circle back to nature; the peace of the “wilderness”. Therefore my geographical location in connection to the majestic place I imagine, comes from my interaction with the wilderness.

So I say—To mother nature, we are but a drop of oil in water, in place yet “displaced” from ourselves.

 

 

 

 

Annotated Bibliography

http://www.pbs.org/now/printable/transcript_smallwonder_print.html

Barabara Kingslover’s is a writer of poems, novels and essays.  Her article –A knowing Place, is a description of how the wilderness is an important aspect of human interaction to our geography.  She entails the differences of where she is (physically, mentally and emotionally) in relation to her family history as well as her connection to the naturistic beauty that surrounds her.

What Is Ecofeminism (Cont’d)

Women in the global south are impacted by environmental degradation because the roles they play as caretakers causes them to become vulnerable to climate change.  Some places such as Africa and India lack basic resources such as clean water for food and hygiene.  Other places in Asia women are being subjected to pollution due to greenhouse gases.  Women in lower class systems suffer even more at the hands of their own government, simply for economic power and global relationships.  As women in these developing countries become environmentally exploited, it becomes harder for them to fight back.  Therefore, it is extremely important for women (and men) globally to recognize what is happening in order to construct ways to make a difference.

While both Hobgood-Oster and Warren have similar Western’s perspectives on ecofeminism, here I will only discuss a few.  Hobgood-Oster’s analysis of ecofeminism encompasses the structures in dualism of women’s oppressions; “heaven/earth, mind/body, male/female, huan/animal, spirit/matter, culture/nature, white/non-white” (Hobgood-Oster,2).  In it she addresses the inequalities to which a male dominated society has created for women.  She identifies the generational patriarchal ties of women in different cultures to that of science and religion.  Hobgood-Oster also brought up Shiva’s point, which is the “Westernized” sense of how some scholars unseemingly categorizes women’s race and by doing so “undermines” the quality of their struggle and work.  This was stated to prove her analysis of complexity to ecofeminism – it has many different discourses.  Similar to Hobgood-Oster, Warren pointed to dualism by stating “oppressive and patriarchal conceptual frameworks are characterized not only by value dualisms and hierarchies but also by “power-over ” conceptions of power and relationships of domination” (Warren).  She examined the traditional Marxist theory with “mainstream”, citing that change is needed due to the way in which women was branded with nature.  One of her Marxist comments stated “if ecofeminism is a position that recognizes that nature has value in addition to its use value to humans, or if ecofeminism asserts that more than gender-sensitive class analyses are needed to explain the interwoven dominations of women and nature, then traditional Marxist feminism will be inadequate from an ecofeminist perspective” (Warren).  Although both women talked about the “dismantling” of these frameworks, Warren laid out her eight connections which highlighted “a casual, albeit philosophically uncritical, perusal of these eight alleged connections helps to identify the range and variety of ecofeminist positions on woman-nature connections” (Warren).

On the other hand, Agarwal perspective was non-Westernized.  Agarwal analyzed what she called “conceptual issues” to which she stated “my purpose is not to critique ecofeminist discourse in detail, but rather to focus on some of the major elements” (Agarwal, 120).  In it, she agrees with some of the dualistic properties in Hobgood-Oster and Warren, to make the point that women in Third World countries suffer different due to environmental degradation.  Agarwal pointed to Shiva’s empirical perspective which was which she thought was “essentialist” because it did not paint a full picture of ecofeminism in Third World countries.  She argues that although “Shiva takes us further than the Western ecofeminist in exploring the links between ways of thinking about development, the processes of developmental change, and the impact of these on the environment and on the people dependent upon it for their livelihood….nevertheless her examples related to rural women primarily from northwest India” (Agarwal).  Agarwal dove into deep history of the castes, class and race of women in Third world countries, thereby discussing environmental changes colonial/precolonial times.

Although I valued all of the ecofeminist perspectives, the one that resonated with me the most was the non-western one to which Agarwal spoke.  There was a rawness to her analysis that showed the parallel lines to women in Third World as well as Westernized countries.  She talked about time, history and her interconnectedness to women and nature in relation to how British politics still plays a part in the development of India and other Third World countries. She mentioned the “privatization” of land by predominantly male groups; “what they termed “private-community,” that is they were private insofar as use rights to them were usually limited to members of the community and therefore exclusionary; at the same time there were communal in that such rights were often administered by a group rather than by an individual” (Agarwal, 131).   Even though Agarwal focused on India/Third World countries such as Africa, everything she says is so current even today.  Not just here in the US where gentrification is happening but also in the Caribbean, where deforestation misplaces people who lived in once lush vegetation and beautiful beaches.   When these types of devolpments take place women suffer the most.  Therefore ecofeminism has to be able to wear many hats and really look deeper into the lenses of not just their own environment but that of other women’s (men too) environments.

What is Ecofeminism: Through My Lenses

When I first heard/saw the term “ecofeminism” I thought, it could only have one meaning; all women regardless of race, sex, class, fighting to preserve nature.  However, getting to understand the meaning of the word truly dismantles it a bit more; breaking it down to many parts of “ecology” in “feminist” terms.  At the center of this complexed term is “duality” which may shape many aspects of our lives.  Yet it conflicts with the way in which history has linked women’s lives, in upkeeping roles set forth in historic, philosophical terms.  When I say this, I’m talking about the fallacies that have been embedded into our society for generations.  These are the fallacies that Hobgood-Oster’s reading sheds light on, as she discusses the many “dualistic” components in regard to “patriarchy” and “oppression” of women:

“Ecofeminism claims that patriarchal structures justify their dominance through categorical or dualistic hierarchies: heaven/earth, mind/body, male/female, human/animal, spirit/matter, culture/nature, white/non-white” (Hobgood-Oster). 

My interpretation of this is that not all facts are true and not all truth are facts and, some historical facts have never been proven.

My understanding of how we resolve the issues that arise in “ecofeminism”, is that all feminist would need to go into every conflict with eyes wide open.  This means to have difficult conversations in order to “deconstruct” the “patriarchal systems” that Hobgood-Oster also mentioned.  And all too often, bias having to do with race, religion, sex, etc., shatters the core of human as well as animal nature.  It cannot just be one person, one race, or one community, that makes a difference, but we CAN make small changes in order to have a big echo:

“The political activisms and alliances stemming from ecofeminism modify in relationship to the perceived justice issues being confronted in differing cultural and historical settings’’ (Hobgood-Oster).

In a prior WGS class, I learned the word “intersectionality” coined by Kimberly Henshaw.  This is similar to dualism but it has a positive connotation, taken to mean no one thing is alike because we intersect; we experience systemic oppressions differently.  But what we have in common is the need for equality or non-biasness.  What is not part of your life that you need to be a part of your life?  For me, I would say it is important for us to speak up against injustice.  I look up to young women like little Geta Thunberg, who speaks avidly about climate change and  Majora Carter: Ted Talk Video , they should inspire all women.  And as I read Warren’s eight connections, the following resonated:

Many ecofeminists have focused on uncovering empirical evidence linking women (and children, people of color, the underclass) with environmental destruction.  (Empirical and Experiential Connections 3, Warren)

One crisis could cause a rippled effect and this is somewhat of a poem I made to reflect the truth as I see it.  Like dropping trash on the street; the rain or wind then pushes it like a wind-blown sheet; into the ocean, thereby, infecting fish, birds as well as human; if you don’t eat see-food, still be aware; you’ll feel the difference in the ear.

Hello world!

I am a Boston resident in the processes of earning my bachelors degree – Women and Gender Studies (WGS). Apart from interest in this course as it pertains to WGS, my concern is also about how environmental issues affects all women and other marginalized groups.  My experience of living in the city of Boston has opened up my eyes to many injustices in class, race and gender. Businesses profit from poor inner city residents and only pay it forward to the rich.  Therefore, if one cannot afford the better things in life such as food or shelter, you are left out in the cold – literally and figuratively.

MsAfropolitan could be a model of my own work because the site discusses many different components relating to women of color. Some stories the site focused in on was education, beauty, family politics, etc. These areas are not just interesting because they tell a good story but many of them I can relate to; they either were or still are part of my daily reality.  Hopefully reading more about how women of color overcame many adversities, would help me to understand how I might be of help in some way.  Or maybe I can speak up for others who do not have a voice.

reasonandmeaning.com is another site that talks about almost everything and the tabs were extremely informative, which I felt that I can learn a lot from. Some subjects covered were ethics, death, religion, science, politics and each had a mini tab that gave more and more information. This site also struck me because I too am still trying to understand how this world really works. I think we all want the same thing but I also believe that by seeking truth in life we might destroy the beauty in it. I say this based on all of the news in our current climate, we need to figure out a plan to save what is left.