In November of 2004, I was getting my BA in Feminist Studies and debating if I should move to Canada because, really America, another four years of W? Ugh. Aside from the anti-Bush sentiments slapped on my truck–“The Only Bush I Trust is My Own” (and underneath that I wrote “and my girlfriend’s”), “Not My Government” and “F the President”–some of the other bumper stickers on the tailgate of my black Ford Ranger were:
Tree Hugging Dirt Worshipper
A Woman Needs a Man like a Fish Needs a Bicycle
You May Say I’m a Dreamer but I’m Not the Only One
Well-behaved Women Rarely Make History
Think Globally Act Locally
Love Your Mother (with, of course, a picture of the earth on it)
A slew of rainbow stickers, Ani Difranco stickers, and rainbow Ani Difranco stickers.
And this beauty:
In summation: my ecofeminist identity was slapped on my tailgate in as many iterations as possible.
“Ecofeminism is a movement that sees a connection between the exploitation and degradation of the natural world and the subordination and oppression of women….Ecofeminism brings together elements of the feminist and green movements, while at the same time offering a challenge to both. It takes from the green movement a concern about the impact of human activities on the non-human world and from feminism the view of humanity as gendered in ways that subordinate, exploit and oppress women.” —Mary Mellor
In other words: woman-hating and nature-hating look a hell of a lot alike.
In other words: Hey oppressors, you’re degrading women in the same way you have always degraded the earth. Domination of nature and exploitation of women. Boring.
A more positive side of ecofeminism, though, has to do with the woo-woo hippie goddess spirituality stuff. As in, everyone can benefit from a little more of a goddess-lovin’ sense of self. Pre-dude-take-over-of-the-world era, a lot of religion was centered on goddess figures. Think: female = creative. Think: male = ephemeral. These holistic, earth-oriented goddess cultures were eventually laughed at and chastised by and told to stop existing and then forced to stop existing by the hierarchy and domination of patriarchy.
Thus, another facet of ecofeminism is re-connecting woman with the goddess to give us ladies a sense of goodness. Blessed be.
Some ecofeminists disagree with these ecofeminists.
That’s all fine and dandy, but what about the REAL conditions of women? We can say that women are all spiritual and connected to the earth, and the Goddess and Mother Earth are interesting concepts, but why focus on this concept and not really help women? What if we were to bring spirituality and activism together in order to create a really great concept of ecofeminism?
Hmm. Good points on each side.
I suspect some teasing out of these concepts and opinions is going to have to occur in order to really examine this issue. Let’s look at the basics of ecofeminist thought and see what commonalities there are between the different schools/ideas. I will do said teasing out through some statements I have heard that have influenced my own life, because I have at times considered myself an ecofeminist and at times have thought that there is much more to this world than equating women with nature with goddess with activism.
Commence the teasing out.
I no longer have the Ford Ranger, though I do have a 1982 El Camino. There are no bumper stickers on the 1982 El Camino, because, well, IT’S A 1982 EL CAMINO. A Supersport, too. V-8 engine. Original radio. Fake wood paneling around the dashboard. AND in working condition. I don’t want to fuck that awesomeness up by slapping my activist opinions to its tailgate.
Instead of feminist bumper stickers screaming my identity to the world from my truck, I now plug my iPod into the El Camino via the cassette player and let Lil Wayne shout out my identity.
White chick with dreadlocks. Check.
Offensive rap music lover. Check.
Because rap music is smart. Creative. Witty. Knows exactly what it’s doing. And has a lot of the answers to some of the world’s toughest debates.
What do women and nature really have to do with each other?
Well, Drama would say “She looks like a fairy tale but feels so natural. This one’s a beast but way too wonderful to be compared to an animal.”
So perhaps women and nature can’t be equated.
Though Robin Thicke thinks a bit otherwise, as he has some comments to make about women and animals in the context of domestication: “Okay, now he was close, tried to domesticate you. But you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature. Just let me liberate you.”
Those in favor of liberation raise your hand.
And to repeat: Ecofeminists argue that there is a strong parallel between the oppression and subordination of women in society and the degradation of nature. That’s a good point. But we also have to look at how men can find power within nature, and how through this one-ness with nature men can come into a space in which they do not contribute to the degradation of women. This has been going on since at least my childhood. For instance: Sir Mix-A-Lot. Time to sing along. “My anaconda don’t want none unless you’ve got buns, hun.” Mix-A-Lot views (a part of) himself as a snake—perhaps as being one with nature. This environmentalist side of him has something positive to say about women: that he enjoys women who have full bodies, not the socially-constructed ideals of beauty, in which the huns don’t got buns.
And to take it one step further, Lil Wayne knows the value of spending time with people in nature. Bar-b-ques, for instance, an outdoor activity where food is the main event, and there are tons of smiles to be had while hanging out together and appreciating the joys of eating and mingling and fun times in nature. At his own personal bar-b-ques, Lil Wayne is a fan of kebobs, i.e. “90 billion bitches on my stick like a skewer.”
Speaking of eating, Jon Lajoie has his own personal tastes, and he, like Sir Mix-A-Lot, is also one with nature. Lajoie says, “I’m a sexual tiger and I feed on vagina.” Awesome! Thanks Jon! I personally love to have oral sex performed on my vagina, so perhaps your sexual tiger-ness will one day find a dish of Chelsey Clammer’s vagina on your menu.
Returning to the point: ecofeminists also explore where sexism and the domination of nature intersect with other characteristics of social inequality, such as racism. While this is an interesting intersection, I believe that one aspect of nature and gender that ecofeminists tend to skim over is the power that not only women, but men, too, feel when they are connected with nature. Lil Wayne, for example, enjoys when he is “in the ocean getting shark pussy.” This, perhaps, is a surrealist depiction of how Lil Wayne enjoys being in nature, and he does not feel threatened by the dangers of the ocean but is instead empowered by his ability to get along with and play around with certain individuals who might be considered dangerous (the vagina dentata comes to mind). When Lil Wayne is not in the ocean, he is “with my killer bees, fuck bug spray.” Regardless of whether or not you believe that being in a gang and then conflating that gang identity with an insect is or is not powerful/pro-environmentalism, anyone who can rap about bug spray is awesome in my book.
Finally, within the realms of ecofeminist thought there’s the huge, bugaboo issue about capitalist and patriarchal systems that oppress not just women, but nature as well. This domination and exploitation of women via capitalism and making financial resources hard for oppressed peoples to access is at the core of ecofeminist analysis.
Thought: if capitalism (money) exploits women, then what about women who use their love for and connection with nature in order to fight back, to gain and possess money and to thus feel a sense of control over their bodies?
Ecofeminists, I introduce you to the pussy rules the world version:
Here you will see that there are many aspects to nature/food that are profitable and enjoyable for women.
-Relish = Money
-Lettuce = Money
Exhibit 1: Diamond
-Ride or die chick with a pocket full of relish
(Translation: she’s got money in her pocket.)
-Jimmy Choo fetish keep me fresh like lettuce
(Translation: she’s got a lot of money.)
Exhibit 2: Trina
-Diamond Princess straight VVS stuntin’
(Translation: she’s got the good diamonds.)
-Hips of a goddess, watch how I throw ‘em
(So this one doesn’t have to do with money, but Trina knows she’s a goddess, and any goddess-loving, earth-loving, women’s-spirituality-loving person can clearly see that yes, Trina is a goddess due to those hips.)
Exhibit 3: Eve
-Still walkin’ round with five thousand dollar boots
(This author must admit that, prior to looking up these lyrics, she thought Eve was saying “still walkin’ round with five thousand dollar boobs” which this author thought was quite amazing for some body-positivity in relation to dollars. And while Eve says boots, not boobs, it’s still nice to see a woman take pride in her ability to use her money for good, by which this author means having a very self-confident, un-financially-inhibited and amazing sense of fashion.)
-Still stack lettuce, huh, still stack cheese.
(Translation: she’s got stacks of money.)
So while the ecofeminist Maria Mies might say that “after the material resources of the colonies have been looted, their spiritual and cultural resources are being transformed into commodities for the world market,” I believe that, like Talib Kweli says, “Birth of civilization, first it hurt, then it was amazing.” We must all get through these growing pains and eventually find our own way in the world. Whether that’s as a woman or man who finds her or his connection to the environment through spirituality or through an identification with nature, it can be agreed upon by all earth-loving beings that there is always going to be at some point in a woman’s life a strong connection with nature. Talib Kweli states his own experience in order for the reader to understand how, regardless of ecofeminist identification, a woman’s connection to and expression of the natural can be just as profound as an earth-altering event:
I’m trying to find your spot, but you’re wetter than a tsunami.
 From the introduction to “Feminism & Ecology” by Mary Mellor, New York Univerity Press,1997, p.1