Actively Creating Change Update – Conversation & Community Creates Conservation

After reading through everyone’s thoughtful replies to my previous blog post, “Actively Creating Change,” I revisited my Conservation Starts With Conversation plan.

One of the most frequent suggestions that I received was to make a social media platform to advertise and spread the ecofeminist message of the
“brand.” Alina even mentioned creating a video to present the designs, and I realized that would also serve perfectly for a social media post/brand introduction. Check it out:

Conservation Starts With Conversation by Jasmine Mattey

I created a video presentation that could easily be uploaded to TikTok / Instagram as an introduction to the “brand.” I took the time to try to make the video as eye-catching, engaging, and aesthetically pleasing as possible to hopefully receive some buzz/shares. 

I also had the idea to create a discord to create a place of community and organizing for like-minded ecofeminists or for unlike-minded ecofeminists to develop new and inclusive ways of thinking through critical conversation.

Then, going off of Kylie’s “activism tip” idea, I integrated ecofeminist quotes into the presentation between the merch pictures. Hopefully, this addition will deepen the viewer’s understanding or at least thinking surrounding what the designs represent.

Kylie made another great point—I should be looking to companies that are eco-conscious, sustainable, transparent, and traceable. Otherwise, I’d only be contributing to solidifying the patriarchal capitalist hegemonic system. 

This is something that Jess came up against when creating her merch, and as a result, she decided to partner with a small local business. Instead of having their merch available 24/7, they drop new merch designs in batches (which she partners with small artists to create), and they’re all pre-order only. This way, there isn’t wasteful overproduction of clothing, everyone involved is being paid a fair wage for their labor, they can ensure that the quality is going to last so less clothing ends up in landfills, they’re supporting small entrepreneurs instead of big corporations, and honestly, the list of positives just goes on and on. 

As a result, I decided to ditch the Printify idea. If I were to put these designs into production, I’d start by walking down to my local printing shop to see what options they have for organic cotton shirts or linen bags and if/what kind of sustainable printing media they have available.

Christine suggested that I should make the designs more gender-neutral and think about placing the designs somewhere other than across the chest. I can understand how, as part of dismantling this idea that womans’ bodies are for men’s consumption, I shouldn’t add fuel to the degradation by making it even easier for anyone’s chest to be ogled at. So, I made sure to include a design with the words toward the bottom and another one with the words under the picture. 

Additionally, Christine and Lizzy mentioned that I should expand the collection to more than just T-shirts. This further solves the design-placement dilemma because, for those who are (understandably) uncomfortable with inviting conversation based on their clothing, this is an excellent alternative. 

A reusable tote bag or a gifted mug are equal-opportunity conversation starters. So I decided to add some tote bags and water bottles to these initial mockups. Both contribute to more sustainable lifestyles, like ditching single-use plastic bags and water bottles. Again, the more that we respect the Earth, the more that we can dismantle the logic of domination and create a more egalitarian world. 

I think the designs that I’ve created by taking into consideration the input of all my ecofeminist peers sets this plan to create change up for success. However, I think that it could be taken a step further.

Amanda suggested that I could donate a portion of the proceeds to an ecofeminist organization, and I thought that was an amazing idea! Over the course of our studies, Intersectional Ecofeminism was my AHA! Moment.

All the pieces fell into place, and it became evident that the only way forward is inclusionary—a theory that accounts for everyone’s inherent intersectionality. Through an inclusive ecofeminist view, the true oppression/domination continuum can be studied and dismantled accordingly. Essentializing identities strips marginalized voices from being heard and their needs being met. So I knew that I wanted to pick an organization that focused on intersectional ecofeminism. This search led me to Intersectional Environmentalist.

In an ideal world, I could set this brand up to where the profits cover the production, and anything leftover would go directly to supporting Intersectional Environmentalist initiatives.

I think it’s amazing to see the Conversation and Community that this potential brand is already facilitating. All the amazing women who commented on my post and offered critical and actionable feedback grew this budding idea into one that could seriously create change. This was exactly the hope that I had for this brand and these designs—to make ecofeminism accessible to everyone.

With these conversations, I hope to add a drop in the bucket toward conservation and building community. It’s through the ecofeminist work of dismantling labels and stigmas by showing that anyone and everyone is what an ecofeminist looks like. It’s through reminders that we are all animals and all deserve equal and just treatment. It’s through fostering respect for our mothers—the many mothers who birthed us all and Mother Earth for sustaining our life that we can work toward the conservation of our planet and, subsequently, shrink the hierarchical gap between those with more/less privilege. 

We–as in humans of all genders, shapes, sizes, sexualities, races, classes, and all other intersectional delineation, the nonhuman animals, the environment and planet that we share space and life with—we all deserve a healthy, harmonious, and empowering egalitarian future.

Please let me know what you think! What do you think of the designs? Do you have any suggestions for sustainable alternatives to Printify? What are some more ecofeminist principles boiled down to a few words? What more can I improve on?

Thank you to everyone who has already played a role in shaping this “brand” and creating change toward an ecofeminist future.

Actively Creating Change

Earlier this semester, we studied Terry Tempest Williams’ writing “Home Work,” in which Williams identified that the pathway toward conservation must include conversation. I explored this idea in more depth in my previous blog post, “Conservation Starts With Conversation,” but ultimately, I came to the conclusion that the best way to open minds instead of close them is through conversation. And this is how ecofeminists can effectively spread their message and unite with other marginalized voices to create real change. 

Ecofeminism - The Mindset of the Future - BYOtogo

In that same post, I mentioned how a huge role model of mine is Jessica Sowards of Roots and Refuge Farm. As part of her grander activist role in advocating for a new wave of homesteading, gardening, and self-sufficiency, Jess chronicles her own homestead on YouTube. She also writes blog posts and entire books that make homesteading accessible to anyone and everyone. She is currently working on opening a homesteading store and community center with the same goal in mind.

I remember watching one of her videos in which she is talking about her online merch store. She recounts how her followers who purchased the merch were writing to her to tell her that they were great conversation starters. 

Eye-catching T-shirts that read “Real Food Comes Dirty” were enough to create space for strangers to connect over Jess’ important message. The shirt was enough of a conversation starter to really spark positive change for the earth and to begin uniting like-minded individuals and create community.

I want to apply this same idea to ecofeminist principles.

I plan to create different merch designs that illustrate some of the ecofeminist theories/principles that we’ve studied this semester and that I’ve covered in depth on the blog.

Something as simple as an eye-catching T-shirt could be just enough to facilitate conversation, community, and active change.

The more ecofeminist theories that I can boil down to snappy one-liners, the more critical conversations can be sparked. 

In the grand scheme of things, I could have these designs printed through a third-party company like Printify and linked to an Etsy account or Amazon seller account. Like-minded individuals could literally wear these conversations across their chests. Just imagine, all it would take is one marketing video to go viral, and the message would go viral as well. 

I hope that through creating these designs, and in theory the merchandise itself, would act as a way to initiate conversations about ecofeminism, and through opening minds or joining like-minds, real change can be enacted to dismantle the hierarchical system of oppression and free all those deemed inferior—women, nonhuman animals, the earth, and anyone considered “other” under patriarchy.

Discourse is Educational But Action Creates Change

A few weeks ago, when I was reading “Gender Equality and State Environmentalism,” I noticed that Kari Norgaard and Richard York present an ecofeminist stance that I agree with and that I believe sums up how the oppression of women and the oppression of nature are interconnected expressions of patriarchal domination. 

They believe there is “a link between gender equality and the environmental behavior of nation-states [as] implied by the assertion that sexism and environmental degradation reinforce one another” (510). From this theory, we are faced with a difficult truth: there is an inherent connection between the oppression of women and the oppression of nature, and it lies within the fact that the two are mutually reinforcing under perpetuated patriarchal hegemony. 

It’s true that material deprivations and cultural losses of the marginalized and the poor lie within the deeper issues of disempowerment and environmental degradation because the oppression of these marginalized groups—whether they be women, the poor, nonhuman animals, the environment, or any other individual who doesn’t fall into the perpetuated Anglo-European androcentric and patriarchal mold—is tied to a logic of domination where men reinforce their own entitlement at the expense of all “others.” 

We see this logic of domination in play when more and more mines are opened on Indigenous land, all for the profit and benefit of men and at the expense of the Native women and the environment within the area. 

Biden administration pauses transfer of holy Native American land to mining firm | Native Americans | The Guardian

Legal research associate and activist, Julia Stern, explores this “Pipeline of Violence” in an Immigration and Human Rights Law Review blog post. She explains that “​since the oil boom, Native communities have reported increased rates of human trafficking, sex trafficking, and missing and murdered Indigenous women in their communities.” Non-Native working men are coming in, appropriating land and contributing to ecological degradation in the process, and committing violent acts of oppression against the women they deem inferior because they truly believe they are entitled via their institutionalized logic of domination. 

Furthermore, this logic of domination pervades and is enabled by all patriarchal societies. Capitalism and patriarchy and mutually reinforcing in the same way that the oppression of women and nature are mutually reinforcing. For both capitalism and the patriarchy, it all comes down to power—and power is money. 

Photo by Diego Nigro/JC Imagem

Just look at the literal rivers of trash degrading the Brazillian city of Recife. This photo of 9-year-old Paulo Henrique picking through the garbage-filled canal for aluminum cans to sell was published in the Journal de Commercio. 

In world's poorest slums, landfills and polluted rivers become a child's playground | PBS NewsHour

It’s not uncommon for Recife children to wade through filthy polluted water, through a filthy and polluted planet, for pocket change of the wealthy, but as VICE writer Talita Corrêa reports, “it was only after [this] image appeared in the press that the local government and international authoriries took notice…and promised to place Paulo, his mother, and his five siblings on welfare.”

It took bad press—a threat to the institution’s carefully crafted and projected image, ego, and capital—for any intervention or help to be offered. That’s because the institution is already aware of the oppression of both marginalized groups and nature and purposefully enables it. In fact, oppression is the instrument of the capitalist patriarchal institution’s domination as a means to keep the powerful wealthy and the wealthy powerful.

I’m sure it’s exhausting for you to read about all of this widespread domination, just as it’s exhausting for me to write about it. Just as it’s exhausting for those who experience it every day. And the worst part is, I haven’t even exhausted the examples. So, let’s keep going. 

Sunderlal Bahuguna: The man who taught India to hug trees - BBC News

In India, the women-led Chipko movement was formed as a result of “the government’s decision to allot a plot of forest area in the Alaknada valley to a sports goods company. This angered the villagers because their similar demand to use wood for making agricultural tools had been earlier denied” (“The Chipko Movement”). Of course, the institution’s actions were a result of capital gain—it always comes back to money. 

Pamela Singh: Chipko Tree Huggers of the Himalayas — sepiaEYE

What’s even worse is the only way for the movement to make any real difference as far as environmental treaties are concerned was when a man entered the conversation and appealed to the institution’s greed. “Mr. Sunderial Bahuguna, a Gandhian activist and philosopher, whose appeal to Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, resulted in the green-felling ban. Mr. Bahuguna coined the Chipko slogan: ‘ecology is permanent economy’ (“The Chipko Movement”). Even with a female Prime Minister, there’s no severing the innate connection between a capitalist patriarchal institution and an incentive toward capital. 

Wangari Maathai - Top 10 Nobel Prize Controversies - TIME

We see it again in Kenyan activist and leader of The Green Belt Movement, Wangari Maathai, and her tumultuous path toward an ecofeminist future. 

“Maathai won the Africa Prize for her work in preventing hunger and was heralded by the Kenyan government and controlled press as an exemplary citizen. 

A few years later, when Maathai denounced President Daniel Arap Moi’s proposal to erect a sixty-two-story skyscraper in the middle of Nairobi’s largest park (graced by a four-story statue of Moi himself), officials warned her to curtail her criticism. 

When she took her campaign public, she was visited by security forces. When she still refused to be silenced, she was subjected to a harassment campaign and threats. Members of parliament denounced Maathai, dismissing her organization as ‘a bunch of divorcees.’ 

Powering the Green Belt Movement | The Green Belt Movement

The government-run newspaper questioned her sexual past, and police detained and interrogated her without ever pressing charges. Eventually, Moi was forced to forego the project, in large measure, because of the pressure Maathai successfully generated.

Years later, when she returned to the park to lead a rally on behalf of political prisoners, Maathai was hospitalized after pro-government thugs beat her and other women protesters” (Kennedy).

This woman braved a slander campaign that simultaneously disenfranchised herself, the other activist women, and the environment—all because of a powerful man’s ego and just entitled logic of domination. At this point, the pro-government thugs mentioned are synonymous with pro-privilege, pro-privilege that is afforded by institutionalized patriarchal hierarchies. 

Or consider how the worst insult that President Moi’s campaigning could come up with was labeling the women “divorcees,” asserting the logic that a woman’s worth is freely given and revoked by a man. It’s a sign to other entitled, privileged men that these women’s husbands don’t value them, so why should any other man? This is a harmful, oppressive, and dominating logic to have, and yet it’s all around us. 

Statement on the Passing of Wangari Maathai - Center for American Progress

Additionally, Maathai notes that “the men see trees as an economic investment. They look thirty years into the future and see that they will have huge trees to sell. Well, nevertheless, it means that The Green Belt Movement enjoys the participation of men, women, and children” (Maathai). Again, we see how consistently men only respond to economic growth because capital is power in our hierarchical system. 


We’ve now traced the patriarchal logic of domination from America to Brazil to India to Kenya. The point is that it’s not a localized issue—it’s global. And while, yes, feminist and ecofeminist discourse is important to educate others and spark conversation toward an inclusive, intersectional, nonhierarchical future, it’s not nearly enough on its own to make a change.

The age of patriarchy: how an unfashionable idea became a rallying cry for feminism today | Feminism | The Guardian

In her article “Ecofeminist: A Latin American Perspective,” ecofeminist Ivone Gerbara reminds us, “While these discussions are going on, lots of women and children are starving and dying with diseases produced by a capitalist system able to destroy lives and keep profit for only a few. The challenging question…is not the struggle among different ways of interpreting women’s lives and the ecosystem, or the reductionism of theories, but the destruction of life while we are discussing the theories” (94-95).

Smashing the Patriarchy & Co: How Arab Feminists are Re-politicizing their Movement: Department for Middle East and North Africa

Maathai emphasizes how “Environmental protection is not just about talking. It is also about action” (Maathai). But we cannot make a difference if we—all “others” in the eyes of patriarchal hegemony—are divided by trivialities. 

What’s even more eye-opening is that we can’t just shift all of the blame either. Shifting the blame only fuels and justifies complacency. We can’t just point a finger at those in power and leave it at that. 

Maathai has practice articulating this idea, so I’m going to share her analogy here. Maathai asks, 

“‘Where do you think these problems come from?’ 

Some people blame the government, fingering the governor or the president or his ministers. Blame is placed on the side that has the power. The people do not think that they, themselves, may be contributing to the problem. So, we use the bus symbol…

If you go onto the wrong bus, you end up at the wrong destination. You may be very hungry because you do not have any money. You may, of course, be saved by the person you were going to visit, but you may also be arrested by the police for hanging around and looking like you are lost! You may be mugged—anything can happen to you! 

We ask the people, ‘What could possibly make you get on the wrong bus? How can you walk into a bus station and instead of taking the right bus, take the wrong one?’

The most common reason for people to be on the wrong bus is that they do not know how to read and write. If you are afraid, you can get onto the wrong bus. If you are arrogant, if you think you know it all, you can easily make a mistake and get onto the wrong bus. If you are not mentally alert, not focused. [Or] Because the government was so oppressive, fear was instilled in us, and we very easily got onto the wrong bus. We made mistakes and created all of these problems for ourselves” (Maathai).

But what good is staying on that bus once you realize it’s the wrong one? Sure, staying on the bus is easy—it’s comfortable. You can point a finger to a million and two different external reasons why you’re headed in the wrong direction. But in the end, you’re still going to end up in the wrong place. 

The only way to change the institutionalized direction is to take action.

Disaster patriarchy: how the pandemic has unleashed a war on women | Women | The Guardian

Because the scary truth is that those with power, those with money, and those with privilege have the means to act swiftly and definitively when their power or capital is at risk, and upsetting their superior station in the hierarchy is the largest threat they could imagine. 

I can’t stress this enough: Money Makes Moves. Money Motivates. Capitalist society will act and act quickly to make more or defend capital. When feminists and ecofeminists expend all their energy on discourse that divides and fragments their shared ideals—their power—they’re mutually reinforcing the oppression as well…they’re on the wrong bus. The only way to make a change is to unite the forces of all marginalized voices to topple the patriarchy that opposes us all. 

So let’s stop all this talking. What are you going to do to resist mutually reinforcing oppression?


Works Cited:

“The Chipko Movement.” EduGreen, Teri, 

Corrêa, Talita. “The Brazilian Slum Children Who Are Literally Swimming in Garbage.” VICE, 30 Jan. 2014, 

Gebara, Ivone. “ECOFEMINISM: A Latin American Perspective.” CrossCurrents, vol. 53, no. 1, 2003, pp. 93–103. JSTOR, Accessed 1 Apr. 2023.

Norgaard, Kari, and Richard York. “Gender equality and state environmentalism.” Gender & Society 19.4 (2005): 506-522.

Stern, Julia. “Pipeline of Violence: The Oil Industry and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women: Immigration and Human Rights Law Review.” Immigration and Human Rights Law Review | The Blog, 24 May 2022, 

Maathai, Wangari. “Speak Truth to Power.” Edited by Kerry Kennedy, The Green Belt Movement, 4 May 2000, 

Intersectional Ecofeminism – An Interconnected Web of Experience

Western society falls under the domain of a perpetuated patriarchal hierarchy that systemically categorizes characteristics into opposing binaries, with one having superiority over the other. It’s through this continuing reinforcement of privilege that those higher up the ranking (think: able-bodied, attractive, young, educated, Anglo-European, wealthy, English-speaking, white, cis-gender, heterosexual males) maintain their justification for domination. But the truth is that nature doesn’t conform to this hierarchical thinking.

In “The Ecology of Feminist and the Feminism of Ecology,” author and feminist teacher Ynestra King postulates that “life on earth is an interconnected web, not a hierarchy. There is no natural hierarchy; human hierarchy is projected onto nature and then used to justify social domination.” So in place of this false hierarchical system, King proposes that instead, we act through an anti-hierarchial interconnected web perspective. 

Unfortunately, too often, ecofeminist theories and principles have been based in essentialist thought. Whether this was intentional or not, it doesn’t erase essentialist underscoring. In an effort to emphasize the overlooked and oppressed perspective of women, ecofeminists have often based their hypotheses on one type of woman. 


Even ecofeminist powerhouses like the infamous Vandana Shiva, who is known as “the most influential and articulate advocate of ‘third world’ ecofeminism” (Kings 74), has fallen into the same trapping of essentialist views. In her piece “Intersectionality and the Changing Face of Ecofeminism,” ecofeminist theorist A. E. Kings writes that “in taking her research from rural communities in the northwest of India and using it to make generalizations about the entire Global South, Shiva ignored the vastly differing experiences of women from other backgrounds [and her] ‘essentialist views’ have been strongly rejected…” (Kings 75). It’s this generalized, categorical, and essentialist ecofeminist stance that leaves all other marginalized and oppressed groups to the wayside—individuals with identities and voices that need to be amplified just as much as any type of woman. 

In an effort to erase essentialist ecofeminist views and create a diverse and inclusive theory that is sensitive to and accounts for the myriad of categorized identities that make up an individual, a new facet of ecofeminism was birthed—intersectional ecofeminism. 

We are all devised of a multiplicity of experience. And because our society is inherently hierarchical, each categorized identity affords either privilege or oppression. You can imagine how a wealthy white urbanite woman would experience different oppressions and privileges than a non-English speaking Haitian woman or a wheelchair-bound elderly gay man and so on. The first woman would experience oppression of gender while living within wealthy, white, urban privilege. The non-English speaking Haitian woman seems to have the odds set against her, but perhaps she is able-bodied, heterosexual, and educated. Those would all be privileged life experiences. 

In her article “The Difference Between Ecofeminism & Intersectional Environmentalism,” activist Leah Thomas draws the comparison that where “ecofeminism narrows in on gender, sexuality, and the patriarchy, intersectional environmentalism [or intersectional ecofeminism] creates space for all social injustices.” She also offers the personal anecdote that “mainstream feminist spaces didn’t always feel inclusive, representative, or safe; they didn’t acknowledge all the intersections of [her] identity and how it applied to [her] experience as a woman” (Thomas). It’s this excursion that intersectional ecofeminism set out to rewrite. Thomas concludes, “I realized that my Blackness shouldn’t be an extra ‘add-on’ to my feminism or my environmentalism. When intersectional theory is applied to both, I feel seen and heard in those spaces.” 

Intersectional ecofeminism seeks to dismantle the previously regarded essentialist and exclusionary view of ecofeminism that ignored mutually reinforcing oppressions that differ from woman to woman—person to person. 

Intersectional ecofeminism is anti-hierarchial and illustrates the ecofeminist interconnected web perspective. Kings asks her readers to envision intersectionality as being “a web of entanglement [with] each spoke of the web representing a continuum of different types of social categorization such as gender, sexuality, race, or class; while encircling spirals depict individual identities. The spirals collide with each spoke at a different level of the continuum, illustrating the context-specific privilege or discrimination experienced by the individual” (65). Instead of a step ladder, or polarizing categories of oppression and domination, the web perspective is intrinsically interconnected.

Furthermore, intersectional ecofeminism posits that “the ‘freedom’ of humanity is not only reliant on the freedom of nature and women, but it is also reliant on the achievement of liberation for all of those at intersection points…along [the web’s] fault lines” (Kings 71). A.E. Kings is saying that we must follow the web from string to string, intersection to intersection, and work to dismantle the hierarchical oppression and resulting bias for each and every “delineation” before freedom and equality can truly be achieved. 

We are at the point now where intersectional theories, especially intersectional ecofeminist theory, are imperative to understanding the multiplicity of reinforced oppressed identities that make up each individual. A. E. Kings put it best when she wrote, “ecofeminist analysis which focuses only on gender as a significant mode of oppression severely limits our understanding on the other multiple intersecting factors” (Kings 81). This is especially true when trying to gain the full scope of the oppression/domination continuum. 

In an early post on this blog titled “Comparing Western & Eastern Ecofeminist Perspectives,” I focused on the different lived experiences between women in the Global North and South. I wrote, “while the women in the West concern themselves with the unfair treatment instituted by patriarchal hierarchies within education, the workplace, and society as a whole, the women in the Global South or East are more concerned with pressing matters of domination and survival under the thumb of these same hierarchies.” It is because of women in the Global South’s heightened intersectional identities that lead to exponential oppression. We cannot base all of our ecofeminist theories on the Western woman’s perspective, or we will erase and further marginalize diverse voices that deserve to be amplified. We cannot simply copy Western models without taking into consideration the vast difference of experience between individuals, like women in the Global North vs. the Global South. The bottom line is that if we don’t approach all perspectives from an intersectional lens, we are effectively erasing unique experiences for the convenience of generalization. 

It’s inarguable that an intersectional ecofeminist lens of women and nature in the Global South is imperative to capturing the true scope of oppression and domination at play. Kings agrees when she says, by “using intersectionality as an analytic tool, one would be able to fully explore these multileveled points of intersection and in doing so create a more compelling (and thorough) analysis of the twin domination of women and nature. Using intersectionality in ecofeminist analysis helps to promote a holistic approach to issues in the Global South as wide-ranging as climate change, land rights, women’s empowerment, activism, tribal movements, and even problems such as women’s equality in education and menstrual hygiene” (Kings 78). 


Through an inclusive ecofeminist view, the true oppression/domination continuum can be studied and dismantled accordingly. Essentializing identities strips marginalized voices from being heard and their needs being met. The only way forward is inclusionary—a theory that accounts for everyone’s inherent intersectionality. 

Works Cited:

King, Ynestra. “The Ecology of Feminism and the Feminism of Ecology.”, 27 Oct. 2019,,oppression%2C%20whether%20social%20or%20ecological. 

Kings, A.E. “Intersectionality and the Changing Face of Ecofeminism.” Ethics & the Environment, vol. 22 no. 1, 2017, p. 63-87. Project MUSE

Thomas, Leah. “The Difference Between Ecofeminism & Intersectional Environmentalism.” The Good Trade, 3 Feb. 2023,

Examining Interconnected and Mutually Reinforced Sexism & Environmental Degradation: The Women-State Connection

This week I read an argument from scholars Kari Norgaard and Richard York titled “Gender Quality and State Environmentalism.” Within the piece, the pair evidenced how “nations with higher proportions of women in Parliament are more prone to ratify environmental treaties” (506) with a cross-national data analysis that emphasized the correlation between “the percentage of Parliament composed of women and national support for a selection of key international environmental treaties” (506-507). Norgaard and York analyze gender roles through an ecofeminist lens that acknowledges the reciprocal reinforcement of sexism and environmental degradation. 

person holding there is no planet b poster

They clearly and accessibly lay out how “in an unequal society, the impacts of environmental degradation fall disproportionately on the least powerful. Gendered divisions of labor, land, and other resources have meant that women have been uniquely and disproportionately affected by ecological destruction” (507). Because of women’s isolated and unique perpetuated connection to nature and the environment, they are the ones who are most affected by its decay and most equipped to speak on and for it. 

person holding The Climate is Changing signage

Knorgaard and York draw from “a generation of feminist theorists [who have] argued that the state is both capitalist and patriarchal….[and how] gender is a category of social regulation in state policy” (507). Furthermore, “sexism and environmental degradation are interconnected processes…[in which] values, ideologies, institutions, and economic systems… shape human-environmental relationships [and] are themselves gendered…[it’s through] both gender discrimination and environmental degradation to a common hierarchical social structure…[that] both women and nature… [are] devalu[ed]” (508) in mutually reinforcing ways. 


We see this every day, with women’s bodies being the subject of legislature and beholden to the whim of (often male) policymakers. And the unfair treatment doesn’t end there; a gendered division of labor and gendered structure of power is more prevalent than ever (508). Payscale reports that the gender pay gap may be closing over time but at a glacial speed. Men are consistently paid more than women and given higher positions of power for fewer qualifications and work experience. 

perosn holding signage

Yet Knorgaard and York emphasize another gender gap—that of environmental concern, values, and perceptions of environmental risks. They write, “women are more likely than men to express support for environmental protection and that women consider a variety of environmental risks…to be more serious than do men” (508). And logically, it would follow that “if women tend to be more environmentally progressive, the inclusion of women as equal members of society—as voters, citizens, policy makers, and social movement participants—should positively influence state behavior” (508). Knorgaard and York evidence this argument by pointing to how women perceive hazards as riskier than men do, and they are less willing than men to impose risks on others (509), especially when examined in correlation to mens’ common underlying ideology—the “logic of domination” (509) which exemplifies how men justify domination and oppression of others through their entitled and privileged seats in the patriarchal hierarchy. 

group of people holding white and blue banner

Scholar Karen Bell confirms the gender gap correlation in her article “Bread and Roses: A Gender Perspective on Environmental Justice and Public Health.” She analyzes and evidences how “women tend to experience inequitable environmental burdens and are less likely than men to have control over environmental decisions…[She] argue[s] that these injustices occur because women generally have lower incomes than men and are perceived as having less social status than their male counterparts as a result of entwined and entrenched capitalist and patriarchal processes.” It’s the very same concept that Knorgaard and York wielded as substantiated evidence of their interconnected women and state thesis. It’s women’s unique, perpetuated connection to nature and their placement in a capitalistic patriarchal system that makes them uniquely receptive and wary of environmental degradation, enough so to make the necessary changes to prevent further oppression and domination. 


So if “women have more pro-environmental values, are more risk averse, and participate more frequently in environmental movements than do men” (Knorgaard 514), then it only makes sense that placing more women in positions of power will positively impact our relationships and effect on the environment. But first, it must be acknowledged that “sexism and environmental degradation are interconnected processes, stemming from common structural elements, and are mutually reinforcing” (Knorgaard 514). Lindsey Jean Shueman, a writer and producer for One Earth, agrees with Knorgaard and York’s assertion in her piece “Why Women Are Key To Solving The Climate Crisis.” She postulates that by also “acknowledging the benefits women bring to the table, we can start to close these gaps and acceleration action to solve the climate crisis.”

white and black printed ceramic mug beside laptop computer

Schueman highlights 8 evidence-backed reasons why women as climate leaders would play a key role in alleviating the climate crisis and limiting global warming. 

  1. Women are the most impacted by climate change. 
    • Just as Knorgaard, York, and Bell illustrate, the gendered roles under patriarchal hegemony are interconnected with the predominant logic of domination that oppresses both women and the environment in mutually reinforcing ways. As a result, women are at a unique disadvantage when it comes to the effects and stress of environmental degradation.
  2. Women are better leaders in times of crisis.
    • Schueman evidences how “when empowered to actively participate in disaster planning and emergency response, women showcase a unique knowledge and skillset that allows communities to recover more quickly and more effectively.” She reports how “Research has also shown that women adopt innovative and preventative measures at a faster rate than men. In a review of 17 studies from around the world, the presence of women in conservation and natural resource management resulted in stricter and more sustainable extraction rules, greater compliance, more transparency and accountability, and better conflict resolution.”
  3. Women are powerful organizers.
    • Schueman points to influential women like Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, and Sylvia Earle to illustrate the transformative effects that women and women’s ecological ideas can have on preserving the environment. 
  4. Women have the solutions.
    • “Studies show that worldwide, when women are uplifted, there are immense benefits to communities and societies overall. Sustainable and local economies grow, populations stabilize, and children’s health and education levels improve – all of which are foundations for a sustainable economy of the future” (Schueman).
  5. Women turn knowledge into action.
    • Schueman highlights Vandana Shiva, Indian environmental activist who created one of the first community seed banks to preserve and further earth’s natural biodiversity and future. You can dive deeper into Shiva’s Eastern lens of ecofeminism in my earlier blog post, “Comparing Western & Eastern Ecofeminst Perspectives.”
  6. Women are economic dynamos.
    • Schueman writes, “Increasing employment and leadership opportunities for women greatly benefit companies and the economy writ large. It is estimated that businesses with three or more women in senior management positions score higher on all dimensions of organizational performance. Female-founded companies in a major VC portfolio outperformed companies founded by men by 63%, delivering significantly higher revenue.” And then, she connects these statistics to the fact that “women in North America start 70% of new businesses and now control over half of the wealth. It is also estimated that women make 70-80% of all consumer purchases. This potential can be leveraged to transition more rapidly to a sustainable, clean energy economy.”
  7. The world needs equality. 
  8. The women are the visionaries.
    • For both of Schuemans points #7&8, it’s apparent from Knorgaard and York’s data that there is a direct correlation between women in Parliament and environmental treaties. Women need equal power and respect to be able to institute these positive environmental policies, and then we wouldn’t be in the dire straits we are now.

“Making up 51% of the Earth’s population, women and girls in every society are responding more effectively in times of crisis and actively working towards the creation of a more just and sustainable world” (Schueman).

Obviously, if we can eliminate the gender gap and afford equal opportunity to women. As a result, the sexist interconnectedness with environmental degradation will also alleviate. And with powerful, risk-averse, influential, intelligent, visionary, climate-conscious women at the helm, our ratification of environmental treaties will only increase, and thus our damaged relationship with the earth can begin to heal.




Works Cited

Bell, Karen. “Bread and Roses: A Gender Perspective on Environmental Justice and Public Health.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 12 Oct. 2016,

Norgaard, Kari, and Richard York. “Gender equality and state environmentalism.” Gender & Society 19.4 (2005): 506-522.

Schueman, Lindsey Jean. “Why Women Are Key to Solving the Climate Crisis.” One Earth, One Earth, 

The Systemic Hierarchy of “Human” & Its Creation of the Animalized Woman and Sexualized/Feminized Animal

Carol J. Adams is a feminist-vegan advocate and activist whose work is not only influential but groundbreaking in her vision.

Philosophical activist Lisa Kemmerer put it best when she said Adams “unfolds her grizzly discoveries with a wry sense of humor, and sends readers out into the world with a fresh vision—a vision that pierces through the images on the magazine rack, in the frozen meat section of the grocery store, on billboards, or in television advertisements. Adams’ work heightens awareness, shifts thinking, and has the power to alter behavior…” (Kemmerer). 

And that’s exactly how I felt after reading her interview and editorial piece, “The War on Compassion,” in Antennae Project’s The Politics of Meat issue—altered. Once Adams peels back the curtain to expose the damaging way in which our patriarchal society categorizes everything around us through intrinsically oppressive systemic hierarchies, there’s no un-seeing or un-knowing it. 

Adams emphasizes that under our current mode of thinking, “We are human animals; they, those we view as not-us, are nonhuman animals” (5). And, “as long as the definition exists through negation…the inscription of ‘human’…accepts that there is something fixed about humanness which we can establish ‘humans’ possess, and importantly, that others do not possess” (5). By causing a split, or differentiation between categories, a hierarchy is inherently created. We’ve seen it all before—dehumanizing racism and genocide. But what about those who aren’t deemed ‘human’ to begin with? 

That’s when we’re left with speciesism. “Speciesism has always been a toll of colonialism: creating a hierarchy of color and characteristics” (Adams 8). Under speciesism, instead of genocide, it’s meat-eating and hunting. Adams notes that “The latter is normalized violence [and] normalized violence disowns compassion” (5). 

Consider the term “dehumanizing” itself—it denotes humanness is a quality that can be stripped away by oppression. And what’s left in the absence of humanness? Animal. Why do we relegate lesser value to the term “animal”? Adams opened my eyes when she wrote, “When people say, They treated us like animals…they are saying They treated us as though we had no feelings, as though we were not alive…they mean, I was reduced to literal existence, I could not do, I was done to” (7). Why would we ever subject another living being to that kind of violence?

Why have we pedestalled “humanness” above the needs of other living beings and the Earth itself? And why must we continue to climb the patriarchal hierarchy by relegating those who do not fit into the androcentric Anglo-European patriarchal mold —like women, people of color, gender-con-conforming individuals, or those who don’t conform to perpetuated heterosexual norms—to the status of animals, another oppressed group by a different name. I have to agree with Adams when she argues, “Human society takes from the oppression of animals its structures and treatment of other humans…All originating forms of oppression can be traced to our treatment of animals. Domestication became the pattern from social subordination; predation the pattern for killing and extermination” (Adams 8).

Adams reveals this innate link of oppression and its prevalence in our daily lives through everyday images that highlight the women-animal or women-nature connection that patriarchal hegemony has underscored society with. The following images are ones Adams has collected on her website

In this image, the caption reads, “It’s not acceptable to treat a woman like one.” It’s not a false statement, but why are we ignoring the big picture here? It’s not acceptable to treat anyone like this—slaughtered for human consumption and desire—skinned and exposed—pierced through the flesh to hang on a hook. The ad cannot even bear to identify “the animal” by name. Adams notes that “the most efficient way to insure that humans do not care about the lives of animals is to transform nonhuman subjects into nonhuman objects” (Adams 6). Adams defines this as “massification” (6) when we strip animals of their individual identities through terms like ‘meat’ or, in the case of this ad ‘one’ as a means to alleviate empathy. “When nonhuman living beings are converted conceptually into false mass terms to enable their conversion into products, we come to believe that their deaths do not matter to themselves. Animals are killed because they are false mass terms, but they die as individuals. They die as a cow, not beef, as a pig, not pork. Each suffers his or her own death, and this death matters a great deal to the one who is dying” (Adams 7). Even as this ad tries to do good by drawing attention to the way that women not treated as equals to men, it unknowingly also reveals the inherent hierarchical thinking that places women, like animals, beneath fair treatment deserving of white, cis-heterosexual men. 

This image acknowledges the hardship involved in raising/supporting a child while navigating life as a single mother. It acknowledges the disadvantaged position of women, but it does so by equating it with beheading. The usual phrase, “I’m running around like a chicken with its head cut off,” is a much more violent and disturbing image that we use colloquially every day. Does the working single mother face extra burdens and obstacles via her disadvantaged placement in our systemically hierarchical society? Yes, undoubtedly. Is that as extreme as a beheading? Look at the parallels between women and the hen, women, and animals. The working single mother has been consumed by the desires of man and then tossed away once inconvenient, the same way that a “working” hen’s life is devolved to forced reproduction and eventual consumption at the hands of man’s hunger and desire. It’s a picture all to familiar and a connection that’s too apparent to dismiss. 

And now, consider the “world’s manliest sandwich.” What is it that makes this sandwich different than other sandwiches that will set this one as decidedly more masculine? Obviously, it’s the lack of a bun. “Meat eating is associated with virility, masculinity” (Potts 13). In the bun’s place are two pieces of chicken. The entire sandwich is a picture of domination. And as we all (unfortunately) know, domination = manly. It’s a meat on meat on meat sandwich. Slaughted chicken for a bun. Slaughted pig for the filling. Cheese is a product of forced, unceasing breeding to keep cows in an eternal state of reproduction to commodify their milk. Down to the mayo that’s made of egg yolks. The whole sandwich screams violence and oppression, and yet we look at that and say, “Wow! That’s a manly sandwich!” It only goes to show how deeply ingrained toxic masculinity and hierarchical oppression goes–to the very foundation of our thinking, to the bedrock of society. 

In the ever-cyclical “process of objectification/fragmentation/consumption [that] connects women and animals in a patriarchal culture…women are animalized, and animals are sexualized and feminized” (Potts 13). You see it all around us in the images above, in the other snapshots captured and displayed on Carol J Adam’s website, and even in children’s television shows… take a second look at Miss Piggy. I want to finish off this post with another image to contemplate —I wish I could say “a final image,” but the truth is, you’ll continue to notice the constant exposure of the animalized woman and sexualized animal paradigm in tv-ads, billboards, menu signs, food labels, grocery stores, etc., etc., etc. around you. 

I used to work at a bookstore, and as a result, I’m no stranger to the Fifty Shades of Grey craze. I’m all for women exploring their sexuality and honoring their pleasure, and if giving up all control to a dominating person does that for someone, I’m not here to judge. However, this parody cookbook just didn’t sit right with me…and now, after being exposed to Adams’ insights, I know why.

“‘Consumable’ animals are invariably portrayed as feminine, as sexual–available to men, just like female human beings” (Kemmerer). A chicken–a living, breathing individual–was slaughtered, and its dead body was bound and posed to convey enticement, that the chicken wanted this and wants you to consume it, ravish it. In Lisa Kemmerer’s overview of Carol J Adams’ The Pornography of Meat, she included a quote from Adams that sums up the debasement captured in this image, “Meat is like pornography before it was someone’s fun, it was someone’s life.”

Here’s the trailer for the cookbook. An initial viewing might find it humorous, as parodies are meant to be. But now, it’s impossible to un-see the violation of a corpse—a feminized, sexualized, dehumanized corpse—that is trussed up and displayed for what? Privileged human desire. All-encompassing human consumption. 


I’m interested to know your thoughts on the women-animal-consumer-consumed paradigm. Has Carol J. Adams altered your thinking? Do you notice similar images propagandized around us? What do you see as a way forward or away from the current systemic hierarchy we find ourselves amidst?

Works Cited

Adams, Carol J. “The War on Compassion.” Antennae, no. 14, 2010, pp. 5–11., Accessed 10 Mar. 2023. 

Kemmerer, Lisa. “The Pornography of Meat by Carol Adams.” Philosophy Now: A Magazine of Deas, Philosophy Now, 2006, 

Potts, Annie and Adams, Carol J. “The Politics of Carol J. Adams.” Antennae, no. 14, 2010, pp. 12–24., Accessed 10 Mar. 2023. 


The Oppressive Human – Non-Human Animal Relationship: Through an Ecofeminist Lens

This week, I’d like to highlight the facet of our innate and inseverable connection to the non-human animals that we share the Earth with. Now, you might’ve read that sentence and thought to yourself, “Why doesn’t she just say animals? Why does she have to complicate things and include “non-human” beforehand?”

Throughout the ecofeminist readings that I consumed this week, I was asking that same question at first. Theorists kept using “non-human animals,” and it was popping up too frequently to be a one-off notion. And then I realized that this distinction purposefully emphasizes the fact that humans are animals too. Although so many of us falsely believe that we are inherently superior to all other animals, ecofeminists strive to break down this widespread belief. Just as activists will stand up and fight for the rights of human animals being oppressed, non-human animals are just as worthy of fair treatment.

This ties into how vegetarianism and the perception and treatment of non-human animals are inseparable from ecofeminist theory. If the ecofeminist goal is to garner compassion and empathy for all other living non-human beings to then, in turn, pave the way toward compassionate relations within ourselves and each other, non-human animals are a crucial part of this equation.

It’s a smaller leap for humans to recognize the validity of animals because of their apparent sentience than it would be for an ignorant person to recognize the intrinsic value of plants, the environment, or the planet. Baby steps are necessary to open minds instead of close them. And we can point to the fact that even with a basic understanding of non-human animals’ sentience, we justify their horrific mistreatment.

We use them for labor like hunting or guardianship; we use them for entertainment in zoos; we use them to fulfill our need for companionship in keeping domestic pets; we use them for their reproductive processes like milk and eggs; we use them for experimenting on to ensure that new human innovations are safe for our bodies at the expense of theirs; we use them for the very meat and bones that make up their body. We use and use and use for personal gain, which is an unfortunate consequence of the “dog-eat-dog” world perpetuated by androcentric patriarchal hierarchies that are ever in play in our society.

Ecofeminist Greta Gaard articulates the complications of the human / non-human animal relationship in her article “Ecofeminism on the Wing: Perspective on Human-Animal Relations.” She dives deep into the “linkage between sexism and speciesism…[and] the connection between speciesism and classism” (20). Ecofeminists recognize this slippery slope—how the unjust oppression of animals reflects the patriarchal oppression of women, POC, LGBT individuals, and so on.

Although this connection may seem convoluted at first, it’s so intrinsic that its effects can even be tied to our linguistics—our colloquial language. Gaard points out that “animal pejoratives” (20) are used as dehumanizing, derogatory descriptors for all those who do not fit into the pedestalled androcentric Anglo-European mold. Women are referred to as “‘sow,’ ‘bitch,’ ‘pussy,’ ‘chick,’ ‘cow,’ ‘beaver,’ ‘old-bat,’ ‘bird-brain,’” and the list could go on and on. The “linguistic association with animals has also been a method of demeaning Jews and people of color, as Nazi propaganda equated Jews with ’vermin,’ and Blacks have been called ‘coons’ or ‘jungle bunnies’” (Gaard 20). Animals are demonized as a way to “shield ourselves from our own complicity in a system of inter-species domination” (Gaard 21).

The fact of the matter is that our society’s patriarchal hierarchy is inherently a capitalistic one, with emphasis placed on oppression as a viable means of climbing higher on that ladder. Gaard highlights how racism, classism, sexism, and speciesism are all forms of oppression that include “exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence” (20). All of which non-human animals endure at humans’ hands. “Any one of these experiences would be sufficient enough to indicate a group’s status as oppressed. Non-human animals experience all five aspects of oppression” (Gaard 20). We justify this oppression because “humans believe their own economic interests [are] in opposition to [non-human animals’] well-being” (Gaard 20) — providing the bare minimum to ensure non-human animals’ access to a healthy and happy quality of life is seen as “too much work, too much time and [too much] money” (Gaard 20). 

Ecofeminist Deana Curtin approaches the human – non-human animal relationship in a contextually ethical way in her piece “Contextual Moral Vegetarianism.” She acknowledges the necessity of animal consumption in dire circumstances, like in geographical locations where it’s impossible to grow food or in a survival situation where the choices are to eat an animal or starve (1). What she works to highlight is the affluent West’s oppressive perspective on non-human animals.

 She writes, “vegetarianism…is for economically well-off persons in technologically advances countries…[for the] persons who have a choice of what food they want to eat; they have a choice of what they will count as food” (Curtin 2). We have the choice and capabilities not to harm non-human animals, and yet we still pack them into factory farms as close together as sardines in a can, to live in filth and squalor, and to endure their powerlessness and mistreatment. Billions of animals are killed every year for food in the United States (Curtin 2), and it doesn’t just stop there. They’re experimented on, “genetically engineered and chemically infused to grow faster and come to market sooner” (Curtin 2). 

In the West, we aren’t satisfied by just oppressing non-human animals. We don’t stop at exploitation, marginalization, inflicting powerlessness, and violence. We maximize their suffering.

Take a look at this image. It illustrates the way that we are never satisfied by just inflicting maltreatment. We overdo it to cement our position in the patriarchal hierarchy. The meat, the non-human animal, in this photo has already been detained throughout its life for the non-essential purpose of human consumption. And once it’s been killed, butchered, and cooked, the mistreatment doesn’t stop there. The figure that’s carved into this meat is wearing a chef’s hat, indicating that this animal’s body is destined to be commodified and served for capitalist gains. And the figure isn’t just slicing into the meat; there’s another knife stabbed into the non-human animal’s body, emphasizing the unnecessary violence that we subject these beings too.

It’s impossible to ignore the connection between our mistreatment of non-human animals and the mistreatment that those who don’t fit into the androcentric Anglo-European patriarchal mold face as well. We’ve already discussed how tying women, POC, and LGBT individuals to the villainized perception of non-human animals serves to disenfranchise them and justify men’s superiority over them. Men are strong; they’re conquerors.

They’re always portrayed as eviscerating a bloody steak or a fatty, juicy burger. They’re associated with strong liquor that burns on the way down. Masculinity has become synonymous with pain infliction. “The connection between meat and masculinity…articulates the hidden connections between meat eating and patriarchy” (Eisenberg).

While women are seen as weak and only worthy of frivolous consumption like a triple fruit daiquiri or a light salad— extra cucumbers and tomatoes hold the dressing. Women, too, become the meat whose sole “use” is to satiate men’s appetites. 

In order for Ecofeminist theories to enact lasting change, we must first begin by dismantling our justification and infliction of oppression. We can start by restructuring our mindset around non-human animals and their right to live; that’s just as essential as our own. This will open doors and open minds for others to see that same intrinsic value within our planet and within each other. Again, it’s baby steps that will open more minds than close them. So we need to keep having these conversations to raise even more awareness and unveil our patriarchal society from its complacent ignorance and empower each and every individual around us—both human and non-human. 

I’ve explored the women – non-human animal correlation in a previous post surrounding SH Sadler’s iconic and thought-provoking photography. You can check it out here!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these issues in the comments below! Have you ever thought of non-human animals in the context of feminist issues? Was it shocking to see the inherent connection? What’s a way forward that you see working for humans and non-human animals and the planet to come into a respectful and equally distributed power interplay?


Works Cited

Curtin, Deane. “Contextual Moral Vegetarianism.” Animal Rights Library, 1991.

Eisenberg, Zoe. “Meat Heads: New Study Focuses on How Meat Consumption Alters Men’s Self-Perceived Levels of Masculinity.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 13 Jan. 2017,

Gaard, Greta. “Ecofeminism on the Wing: Perspectives on Human-Animal Relations.”, 2001.


Conservation Starts With Conversation: Understanding the Importance of Place

Our sense of place, where we come from—the exact patch of land that we call home—shapes us as individuals and as a society. Terry Tempest Williams put it best when she wrote, “Each of us belongs to a particular landscape, one that informs who we are, a place that carries our history, our dreams, holds us to a moral line of behavior that transcends thought” (Williams). 

Williams believes that the pathway toward conservation must include conversation. The best way to open minds instead of close them is through conversation—through story. “Story offers a wash of images and emotion that returns us to our highest and deepest selves, where we remember what it means to be human, living in place with our neighbors” (Williams). And so, I’d like to start off by sharing with you the place that I belong to, the one that has grown me and shaped me irrevocably. 

I’ve grown up in the same tiny beach town on the Jersey Shore virtually my whole life. Other than a 1-year excursion where I road-tripped halfway across the country to briefly settle in Dallas, TX— the home state of my girlfriend. After convincing my dad to fly out to Texas to drive the U-Haul Truck back to NJ, I returned to where I started.  

I’m surrounded by the same overpopulated and overpriced suburban streets. The same strip of Main Street with pizza places on every corner and the bagel shop where I worked my first job.

If you walk far enough down the bustling main road, your feet will eventually hit boardwalk and then sand. 

On warm summer nights, the boardwalk is packed with locals and tourists alike. The children are sticky with sugar and screaming on the rides. Large families sit on splintery picnic tables digging into a shared large pie—their skin sunburned and tight, their hair still dripping from the countless plunges they reveled in at the waterpark across the street. 

The lights are colorful and flashing, the rides scrape and whirr, and the whole stretch smells like funnel cakes and zeppoles with powdered sugar, then boardwalk fries with vinegar, then pizza, then inevitably, even more fried food. You can stand on the old planks of the boardwalk, still warm from the sun’s rays, and take in the beauty of NYC; all lit up in lights just across the bay. 

Even through all the crowds of locals and tourists alike, all the excitement of the water slides, games, and amusements—it’s the unique fingerprint that the nature of my home has left on my heart. It’s the Waackaack Creek that runs through so many backyards leading toward the expanse of the Raritan Bay. This creek carries the namesake of the Native Americans who once populated this same land, this same place that is written into my DNA—the creek that carries the namesake of the street that I was born on: Creek Road. 

In her meditation titled “Knowing Our Place,” Barbara Kingsolver writes, “It’s a privilege to live any part of one’s life in proximity to nature. It is a privilege, apparently, even to know nature is out there at all…More than half of all humans now live in cities.” I don’t quite live in the wilderness, but I do live amongst a wildness. Sometimes, on eerily quiet nights, I can hear the waves from my back deck or smell the sea-salty spray on a muggy, dark, and rainy morning. I’m one short jaunt through a bustling town center away from a sea that meets the horizon. And yet, I can’t help but notice how disconnected my friends, neighbors, family, and especially myself are from nature. 

We’re so populated that there are hardly any pockets of nature left. Aside from the inescapable coastline, there is one tiny forested park in my town. Houses are divided into multiple apartments, and there are people living above the shops. Most of the strip of the shore is lined with subsidized housing, with the families packed as close together as sardines in a tin. 

Terry Tempest Williams warns, “As the world becomes more crowded and corroded by consumption and capitalism, this landscape of minimalism will take on greater significance, reminding us…just how essential wild country is to our psychology” (Williams).

I’m living in a place where backyards are consumed by concrete fire pits and in-ground pools. There isn’t any room left for nature…not even for a garden. We are the Garden State—but look out across our neighborhood, and the only green you’ll see is a front yard’s sterile, well-maintained patch of grass. 

There’s no farmer’s market with organic, locally, and sustainably grown produce. There’s no community garden to teach our low-income population how to alleviate their dependence on ever-inflating grocery prices and unhealthy but cheap fast-food restaurants. In that same piece, Kingsolver tells her own anecdote about the growing disconnect between people and our food system. She writes, 

“…the astonished neighbor children…huddled around my husband in his tiny backyard garden, in the city where he lived years ago, clapping their hands to their mouths in pure dismay as he pulled carrots from the ground.”

So many of us don’t even know how the fruits and vegetables at the grocery store are grown. We don’t know what a zucchini plant looks like when it’s growing or how seeds are produced. We’ve all become so dependent on the instant gratification and false reliability of the corporations that clothe us, feed us, shelter us, etc., that we’ve almost completely lost our connection to nature. 


  Kingsolver muses, “I wonder what it will mean for us to forget that food, like rain, is not a product but a process.” We call our fruits and vegetables “produce,” for goodness sake! And we all sit idly by and let the commodification further sever our intrinsic link with nature and ensure our dependence on greedy capitalist endeavors. 


Bell Hooks, another ecofeminist author, examines the inarguable connection between the Earth and ourselves through a Black Historical lens in her piece “Touching the Earth.” In her writing, she lays out a compelling argument for how the Great Migration negatively affected the collective Black psyche and consequently left a gaping vulnerable hole for white supremacists to fill with contempt, loathing, and false assumptions of Blackness. 

She writes, “Growing food to sustain life and flowers to please the soul [Black individuals] were able to make a connection with the Earth that was ongoing and life-affirming.” Then approximately 6 million Black people migrated from the American South in search of work in the industrialized and capitalist North between the 1910s and 1970s in what is known as The Great Migration. Hooks continues, 

“Without the space to grow food, to commune with nature, or to meditate the starkness of poverty with the splendor of nature, black people experienced profound depression. Working in conditions where the body was regarded solely as a tool (as in slavery), a profound estrangement occurred between mind and body. The way the body was represented became more important than the body itself…Estrangement from nature and engagement in mind/body split made it all the more possible for black people to internalize white supremacist assumptions about black identity.”

It’s evident that a disconnect from nature can not only breed self-loathing but also leads to callous disregard for other people and the world around us. “When we love the Earth, we are able to love ourselves more fully” (Hooks).

I’ve felt displacement, obviously not even in the realm of the same effects that Hooks describes as altering the Black psyche. But, when I left my hometown, the place that I belonged to, and moved to Texas, I became so homesick. The weird part is that it wasn’t an all-encompassing missing for my family or friends, but instead for the place that I came from. I remember crying over how brown everything was—the light brown concrete tollways of Dallas bled into the pale brown sidewalks that met the dry and crispy grass. I missed the green of NJ. I missed the landscape that shaped me, and I felt like I was losing myself, too. 

And then, I stumbled upon a YouTube video from Roots & Refuge Farm. It was a garden tour. A woman named Jessica Sowards was taking a camera up and down the rows of raised garden beds that she had just planted on her little homestead in Arkansas, and I was enraptured. Jess continues to be my all-time life role model in the way that she sees the world, the relationship that she seeks to build with nature, and the community that she is building with sustainability and self-sufficiency at its heart.

From that one video, I had an entire perspective shift. I began consuming homesteading content like my life depended on it, and at the time, it felt that way. I filled our patio with pots and plants and started filling our apartment with them as well. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t glamorous, and I was killing more than I was growing, but I kept reminding myself that sometimes all I’ll harvest is a lesson. 

It was this new concept of self-sufficiency that led me to feel more grounded and confident within myself. And looking back now, that absolutely affected how I thought of the nature around me. All of a sudden, I was trying to live a low-waste lifestyle. I was passing up produce bags at the grocery store, and I was learning about the harmful effects of pesticides and herbicides on our planet and within our food system—it was a snowball effect. I still love heirloom gardening, and I do so in my (still-cramped and not pretty) backyard. 

“These lands have been here for millions of years, and they will certainly outlast us by another million years or more. But they will not remain ecologically intact without our vigilance, without our willingness to protect what is wild” (Williams). This was a lesson that I learned through my exploration of homesteading and self-sufficiency. The “Wilderness…reminds us why, in those cases in which our plans might influence many future generations, we ought to choose carefully” (Kingsolver).

Fermenting my homegrown peppers to make hot sauce

When we distance ourselves from the land we live on, from the agriculture that could uphold a healthy interplay between sustaining us and sustaining the planet, we grow dependent on others. We grow dependent on companies that commodify human necessities like food, water, and land/shelter. Since when did growing food, sustenance necessary for human life, become radical?

The resulting hot sauce (names courtesy of my teenage brother…)

It’s our responsibility to take responsibility for the land that we belong to. It’s in each of these places that “home work is required, a participation in public life to make certain all is not destroyed under the banner of progress, expediency, or ignorance. We can not do it alone. This is the hope of a bedrock democracy, standing our ground in the places we love, together” (Williams).

My girlfriend drilling drainage holes in the bottom of a $1 store container.


So, start that backyard garden, or that front yard one, or the one that’s made up of 2 pots of herbs on your balcony. Start to learn self-sufficiency skills, because this will only empower you and create healthy self-efficacy. Again, Hooks drives home the basic foundation of ecofeminist theory: “When we love the Earth, we are able to love ourselves more fully.”



Works Cited:

Hooks, Bell. “Touching The Earth.”

Kingsolver, Barbara. “Knowing Our Place.” School of Visual Arts.

Williams, Terry Tempest. “Home Work.” UMass Dartmouth.

Comparing Western & Eastern Ecofeminist Perspectives

After completing more readings and research after last week’s “What is Ecofeminism?” post, I’ve gained more of an understanding of the differences that complicate a Western Ecofeminist lens vs. an Eastern one. Vandana Shiva, an Indian physicist and social activist, offers a view that bridges this gap between these two viewpoints of ecofeminism. Agarwal credits Shiva with taking Eastern ecofeminist principles “further than the Western ecofeminists 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” (124). Inherent in this linear progression lies the difference between Western and Eastern ecofeminist perspectives. 

A Western lens focuses on the disparity between privileged women and men in a capitalistic society. Take Shiva as an example; she is a woman who has the unique viewpoint and exposure to highlight the differences between Eastern and Western ecofeminism. Shiva asserts that “the structures of exclusion are more systematically built up in American society, for example, so that young girls interested in science eventually lose their confidence over time. The structures of exclusion work against them” (Shiva 2). While the women in the West concern themselves with the unfair treatment instituted by patriarchal hierarchies within education, the workplace, and society as a whole, the women in the Global South or East are more concerned with pressing matters of domination and survival under the thumb of these same hierarchies.

Take water, for instance. In a post created by UN-Water, the United Nations identified that “without safely managed water, sanitation, and hygiene services, women and girls are more vulnerable to abuse, attack, and ill-health”(UN-Water). In the West, it’s not something that would cross most people’s minds, women included. A vast majority of the West has access to unlimited uncontaminated water on demand through faucets, showers, public drinking fountains, and countless other sources. However, this is not the case for so many other women, especially those in the Global South. These women “usually have the responsibility of fetching water… a dangerous, time-consuming and physically demanding task [which] can leave women and girls vulnerable to attack and often precludes them from school or earning an income” (UN-Water).

This is a danger that most women in the West don’t ever have to think about. Shiva articulates this point better than I ever could, and her viewpoint doesn’t just apply to the East, but also to the Global South. In an interview with Scott London, Shiva argues that for “people who are dependent on natural resources, on biodiversity, on the land, the forests, the water… nature is their means of production. So for them, ecological destruction is a form of injustice. When the forest is destroyed, when the river is dammed, when the biodiversity is stolen, when fields are waterlogged or turned saline because of economic activities, it is a question of survival for these people” (Shiva 3-4). The fact of the matter is that the Eastern view of ecofeminism has a lot more at stake than the West. Western ecofeminists focus on the oppression that they face but do not take into consideration the different and unique obstacles that women in less fortunate countries struggle against.

Agarwal writes that it is “the growth of a market-oriented culture [that] undermine[s] the image of an organic cosmos with a living female earth at its center. This image [gives] way to a mechanistic worldview in which nature [is] reconceived as something to be mastered and controlled by humans” (122). This is when the greed and dominating capitalistic principles of the West seep into the East by means of wealthy companies and corporations who seek to monetize more and more of nature and more and more of people who they view as for the purpose of utilization only.

On the other hand, Agarwal summarizes Shiva’s argument for Eastern ecofeminism in that it prioritizes the “special dependence” that ‘Third World Women’ have on nature and, in turn, the “special knowledge” that they have of nature (Agwarwal 124). It is this dependence that creates an unreplicable respect for the earth. Since women in the Global South or East are assigned more nature-based responsibilities than women in the West, like being the ones to fetch water in the village (UN-Water), they form an interconnectedness with the earth that is both inherent and assumed by dominating patriarchal hierarchies that are distanced from nature. 

It is this interconnectedness, this unreplicable familiarity, and “knowledge [that] has been systematically marginalized under the impact of modern science” (Agarwal 124). This is the patriarchal “myth of progress” and the resulting “detrimental effects on the human-nature relationship” that Hobgood-Oster mentions in her piece Ecofeminism: Historic and International Evolution. This perpetuated myth pushes the quantifying of our advancement as humans in the terms of scientific progress, even when those advancements are nothing more than greedy schemes. 

So often, patriarchal and capitalist scientific endeavors (like the patenting of seeds to ensure the Southern or Eastern dependence on Big Agriculture corporations like Monsanto) are institutionalized globally by these powerful and money-hungry corporations who dress up their exploitation of women, indigenous cultures and practices, and nature as a scientific advancement. They say that that will feed or house more people, but in reality, the goal is to form a monopoly to economically dominate an entire people. In an interview with Dr. Vandana Shiva, interviewer Scott London summarizes Shiva’a point discussing this idea by saying, “We’ve tended to justify these monocultures in the name of growth and human development” (Shiva 5) —and that’s just not true at all. Instead, it is this “noble” pursuit that’s nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing; it’s a way for those placed in power by the androcentric hierarchies in play to justify domination.

On the flip side, Western ecofeminism seeks to distance itself from instrumentalist thought that embedded itself in its culture from the time of Genesis in The Bible. The Eastern perspective of ecofeminism doesn’t fully situate the earth as having intrinsic value. Instead, nature is viewed as having “gifted…rich biological diversity to us. [And that is why] we [should] not allow it to become the monopoly of a handful of corporations” (Shiva 7). Eastern ecofeminists focus more on people’s (especially women’s) dependence on nature to grow food, build shelter, and provide a means of production. They view the means as nature’s offerings, but this idea is still inherently instrumentalist in that the earth is meant to offer us anything, that it is to support humans, and the consumption of humans, if not solely, then as a priority.

After exploring both the Western and Eastern views of ecofeminism, I think my definition would fall somewhere in the middle. I see how Western ecofeminism is a privileged form of feminism that doesn’t take into account the nuanced and dangerous oppression that befalls those in other countries, especially ones less fortunate than ours.

However, I don’t agree with the inherent instrumentalist thinking that underlies Eastern ecofeminism in believing that we are gifted things by nature—like water or seeds. I don’t think anything that is encompassed by nature is an offering to us. What I do believe is that these resources shouldn’t be monopolized by companies and instead should be available for respectful, conscious, and sustainable use. We must dismantle the indoctrinated patriarchal thought that things are anthropomorphic and for human benefit. We must move away from this fractured viewpoint that has “pitted equity against ecology and sustainability against justice” (Shiva 5). Ecofeminist principles could instead work to set the foundation for respectful harvesting, foraging, and agricultural practices so that we all can learn to leave the Earth better than how we found it. 

No longer should the planet’s resources be exploited for capitalist gain. By learning how to have compassion for nature around us, we can then begin to have compassion and empathy for each other, a kind of mutual respect that can transcend gender, race, culture, and any other characteristic that has previously driven a wedge between us all as an interconnected society who inhabits and must care for the earth we share. 

What do you see as the most pressing obstacles for ecofeminists to tackle? Do you agree more with the Western or Eastern perspective of ecofeminism?

Comment below; I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Works Cited

Agarwal, Bina. “The Gender and Environment Debate: Lessons from India.” Feminist Studies, vol. 18, no. 1, 1992, pp. 119–158.,

Hobgood-Oster, Laura. “Ecofeminism: Historic and International Evolution.” Systemic Alternatives, 18 Jan. 2016,

Shiva, Vandana, and Scott London. “In the Footsteps of Gandhi: An Interview with Vandana Shiva.” Global Research,, 3 Feb. 2016,

UN-Water. “Water and Gender: UN-Water.” United Nations, United Nations Water Organization,,public%20spaces%20support%20gender%20equity. 


What is Ecofeminism?

Ecofeminism isn’t a theory that neatly fits into a single category. Instead, it is a theory that’s always in flux, dependent on timely connections that range from environmental to political to social. Hobgood-Oster masterfully wrangles this wide-ranging theory in her piece “Ecofeminism: Historic and International Evolution.” Hobgood-Oster writes, 

“Ecofeminism asserts that all forms of oppression are connected and that structures of oppression must be addressed in their totality. Oppression of the natural world and of women my patriarchal power structures must be examined together or neither can be confronted fully.”

This isn’t only relegated to women and patriarchal oppression but also to all intersectional oppression, gender essentialism, forced hierarchies, and other forms of domination. At its most basic components, Ecofeminism conveys that the damaging Western view of instrumentalism (that the natural world and the earth itself are for human use) seeps into the very foundations of our society. 

Once we justify that the planet we live on’s sole purpose is for our use, we can justify similar exploitation of the people and animals around us—especially those deemed “less than.” In our inherently patriarchal society, everyone and everything that isn’t a cisgender, heterosexual white male is seen as a pawn to be dominated by that institutionalized hierarchical binary system. 

Women, men, people, animals, plants, Earth—we are all living and natural beings and, consequently, are all forced into this perpetuated hierarchical scheme. Basically, you’re either on the top of this food chain or you’re not. 

. . .

I came across this editorial campaign by photographer and artist SH Sadler that captured women slathered in beauty products and packaged up like animal meat at the grocery store. The project is called Fresh Meat, and its message correlates with ecofeminist values. 

Ecofeminism encapsulates animal rights activism within its message. Hobgood-Oster points to  Carol. J. Adams’ ecofeminist study, The Sexual Politics of Meat, she paraphrases, “Adams has made explicit links between androcentric, patriarchal treatment of other-than-human animals, particularly focusing on the meat producing industries of the United States, and the exploitation of women.” 

This is exactly what SH Sadler is conveying with her Fresh Meat series. Women are so often regarded as pieces of meat for men to feast on when they want, where they want, and however they want, regardless of consent. The same goes for animals’ bodies and how we cage them and use them for profit and consumption. 

The women depicted in these images are labeled with a price tag. Their bodies are for sale.

There are undeniable correlations between patriarchal, or as Val Plumwood puts it in her writing, Feminism and the Mastery of Nature, master-slave dynamics, and our global inclination toward domination and oppression. Just as slaves were dehumanized and sold to other humans at auction, the women in these images are painted to the highest standard of beauty and sold for consumption; whether that be consumption by the eye or mouth is up for you to decide. Animals are raised and slaughtered for that same consumption and profit. Pieces of land are bought and sold all across the globe for human monetary gain. How are we selling things that don’t belong to us?

. . .

This isn’t the only work from SH Sadler with an Ecofeminist theme. You can check out more of their work here.

. . .

Ecofeminism’s goal is to dismantle hierarchical thinking and eliminate relationships of domination across all environmental, ecological, natural, societal, political, and racial realms. Through transforming our relationships with each other, the world around us, and the other-than-human beings that inhabit the Earth alongside us, we can cease environmental degradation.

Ecofeminism “simultaneously [serves] as an environmental critique of feminism and a feminist critique of environmentalism” (Hobgood-Oster). So, just as a shifting of perspective and values surrounding our environment will affect the way that we treat not just women but all members of our society and the animals that we share the earth with, it goes both ways—vice versa. 

What do you think about SH Sadler’s work? How does it make you feel? I’d love to hear your take in the comments below! 

. . .

Works Cited

Hobgood-Oster, Laura. “Ecofeminism: Historic and International Evolution.” Systemic Alternatives, 18 Jan. 2016, 

Plumwood, Val. Feminism and the Mastery of Nature. Routledge, 2015.