ECOFEMINISM

Ecofeminism or ecological feminism is the most important approach within ecocriticism and ecological activism. The writings of Annette Kolodny gave impetus to what has come to be called ecofeminism. The term ecofeminism was coined by French feminist Francoise d’Eaubonne in 1974. It is a branch of ecocriticism and feminism that examines the connection between women and nature. Eco feminism can be considered as the analysis of the role attribuntasies of the natural environment, by male authors. It also includes the study of specifically feminine conceptions of the environment in the neglected nature writings by female authors. According to Pramod K Nayar, ecofeminism argue that patriarchal society’s values and beliefs have resulted in the oppression of both women and nature. He also says that it ignores
women’s work, knowledge and situatedness. The situatedness of women is her immediate location in nature, where the relationship of woman with environment is far more intimate than that of man’s. In simple terms this philosophy examines the ways both nature and women are treated by patriarchal society. The earlier binaries in Western thought and literature was that of nature versus culture. Further eco feminists interrogate the effect of gender categories. That is the masculine culture as objective, rational, mind and public and feminine as subjective, emotional, body and private. And these binaries are used in order to demonstrate the ways in which man is equated with culture and woman with nature. Images like “mother nature” indicate two things. They are the naturalization of woman and feminization of nature. Thus it illustrates how men dominate nature and women as exploitable objects. The works of Vandana Shiva, Mary Mellor, Ariel Salleh has generated nuanced readings of the relationship between gender and nature.Ecofeminism can be classified into two, radical ecofeminism and cultural ecofeminism. One of the assumptions of radical ecofeminism is that the dominant patriarchal society equates nature and women in order to degrade both. In fact, in it’s emergence, ecofeminism tends to be radical revealing practices of patriarchal domination of both. So radical ecofeminism targets the historical and cultural
backgrounds that equates the feminine and nature with negative and commodifiable attributes, while men have been elevated as capable of establishing order. Such a socio economic structure easily facilitates the exploitation of women and nature, for cheap labour and resources.
Cultural ecofeminism promotes an association between women and the environment by focusing on the more intimate and organic relationship between them. As per the anthropologically assigned gender roles women are nurturers of family. Culture ecofeminism has roots in nature based religions, goddess and nature worship. It is a way of redeeming both the spirituality of nature and women’s instrumental role in that spirituality. The cultural myths and
spirituality of Native America, Australia and African tribal populace underscores this mutual bonding between women and nature. Because they are built on a mother goddess instead of omniscient father God.
Vegetarian ecofeminism, materialist ecofeminism and spiritualist ecofeminism are some of the new branches of ecofeminism. A major theme within ecofeminism is the belief that there is a strong connection between the domination of women and the domination of nature, and that both must be eradicated in order to end oppression. Vegetarian ecofeminism aims to include the domination of not only the environment but also of nonhuman animals to the list. Materialist ecofeminism connects institutions like labour, power and property as the source of domination
over women and nature. This belief stresses that the sphere of production that is men and factory is dependent on the production of reproduction ( women and family). Materialist ecofeminists thus call for quality in labour distribution, the recognition of the contribution of women’s work.And they suggest to expand the very definition of ‘work’ to include women’s work. In spiritualist ecofeminism, a turn to myth and theology is advocated against materialism because of the
importance given to women, nature and all forms of life. They argue that pre-modern culture have always treated nature with respect and give importance to women’s knowledge, female body and female sexuality. Thus this philosophy turned to Native American religions, godess worship in Hinduism and other native cultures. Vandana Shiva, glorifies Vedic period of Indian History, for its emphasis on symbiotic values in her work Staying Alive (1989).

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