First, read pages 255-262 and 278-282 of Rosemarie Tong’s introduction to ecofeminism. The purpose of this reading is to give you a deeper appreciation for the theoretical underpinnings of ecofeminism and to introduce you to “global ecofeminism” (pages 278-82).
As you read:
- Think about examples of the connection between women and nature
- Reflect on whether all women experience this connection similarly
- Think about how Indigenous feminisms are similar to and distinct from ecofeminism
Find the Rosemarie Tong reading here (Ch. 7), or on eClass.
You began reading the Women’s Earth Alliance (WEA) and Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN) report Violence on the Land, Violence on Our Bodies: Building an Indigenous Response to Environmental Violence in Module 4, on Indigenous feminisms. The report explains and documents the relationship between Indigenous women’s consent over their land and bodies. You’ll continue your reading of that report in this module, beginning with the profile of Vanessa Gray (pages 18-19), followed by Chapter Two: “When Relatives are Violenced” (pages 20-35). Vanessa Gray is an Anishinaabe community organizer from Aamjiwnaang, located in the heart of Canada’s “Chemical Valley,” named for the oil refineries and rubber and plastic manufacturing plants that emit toxic chemicals into the air. Gray articulates an Indigenous feminist analysis of environmental degradation when she critiques the concentration of decision-making power in men’s hands. “Patriarchy,” she argues, “is the reason Suncor is sharing a fence line with us”. Gray argues that — in part because of their roles as mothers and reproducers of their communities — Anishinaabe women must have some power and agency when it comes to decisions about land, air, and water. In Gray’s words:
“We want, first of all, for women to have their say — and they deserve to say what they feel about what’s going on in the community, and what’s going on in their children’s environment”Gray quoted in Native Youth Sexual Health Network and Women’s Earth Alliance Report Violence on the Land, Violence on Our Bodies, page 20
Chapter Two, “When Relatives Are Violenced”, outlines three specific ways in which Indigenous women’s consent over land is necessary to maintain their bodily autonomy. When women’s consent over land is not respected, this impacts their reproductive, physical, and mental health, and creates the conditions for violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people. Indigenous women’s reproductive health is a matter not only of individual autonomy but also of cultural and collective survival. Because Indigenous women give life to future generations, their ability to reproduce in culturally, physically, and environmentally safe and healthy conditions is a matter of Indigenous peoples’ survival more broadly.
As you read:
- Identify examples of Indigenous feminisms and environmental reproductive justice approaches
- Note distinctions between an Indigenous feminist approach and an ecofeminist approach
- Note examples of connections between land consent and body consent
Find the report here.
Next, watch this two-part, 30-minute documentary by VICE News, Canada’s Toxic Chemical Valley. The documentary captures issues of environmental justice in the community of Aamjiwnaang. In “Toxic Matters: Vital and Material Struggles for Environmental Reproductive Justice,” Dr. Sarah Wiebe argues that Aamjiwnaang’s experiences with the toxic atmosphere demonstrate the difficulty of separating humans from their non-human environment, including water, air, soil, and non-human animals.
As you watch:
- pay attention to the connections between gender, race, class, colonialism, and environmental degradation
- look for examples of Indigenous feminist, ecofeminist, and environmental reproductive justice approaches.