Are you an ecofeminist?

Are you an ecofeminist? Do you favour an environmental justice approach? What does one approach offer that the other doesn’t? Or, do you believe that Indigenous feminisms have the most potential to transform human and non-human relations? Reflecting on where you sit can help you think through the differences between these theoretical approaches.

Women and girls are on the forefront of the movement to protect the planet. Greta Thunberg and Mari Copeny (aka Little Miss Flint) have galvanized international movements. Mari Copeny organized for water justice in Flint, Michigan, writing:

“When the water crisis began, all I wanted to do was to fight for my younger siblings, especially my little sister, who would get such bad rashes from the water that she would need to be covered in a special ointment and wrapped in plastic wrap to try to help heal her skin. I wanted to fight for all the kids here that were scared and confused. I wanted to fight for the adults that had to teach the kids that the water was poison.”

Mari Copeny aka Little Miss Flint

Ecofeminists argue that women and girls like Mari Copeny and Greta Thunberg feel engage in environmental activism out of an ethic of care for the natural world, and for people, for whom women and girls often take on care responsibilities. Ecofeminists argue that:

“women, more than men are concerned about the elements: air, water, earth, fire. To be able to bear and rear healthy children and to provide their families with nourishing food, adequate clothing, and sturdy housing, women need fertile soil, lush plant life, fresh water, and clean air.”

Rosemarie Tong, “Ecofeminism” (278)

Do you think that women and girls have a unique “ethic of care” for other humans and nature? If so, is this the result of socialization, or some innate connection to nature? In their emphasis on gender, do ecofeminists pay adequate attention to the relationship between environmental racism and colonialism? Does an environmental justice approach offer a more robust framework? What do you think?

Test Yourself

Discussion Questions

Your task for this module is to work together to identify the differences between ecofeminist, Indigenous feminist, and environmental justice approaches and apply those lenses to a discussion of this article by Sharon J. Reilly in The Narwhal about federal funding for cleanup of oil and gas wells. What kinds of questions would an ecofeminist raise about funding for cleanup of oil and gas wells? Next, what kinds of questions arise from an Indigenous feminist perspective? Finally, what kinds of questions emerge when we analyze the issue from an environmental justice perspective? If you want, you can offer your individual perspective on which lens is the most important or most valuable for understanding the issue of coal mining in Alberta.

Remember, you are working together on this, so it is not up to you as an individual to answer all of the questions presented here. Your job is to contribute by offering examples from lessons and readings to help your team answer the questions. If you arrive to the conversation after your teammates have provided most of the answers, you can weigh in by: a) summarizing the discussion so far, in your own words; and/or b) explaining why each perspective is important or necessary.

Remember to check into eClass to submit upcoming activities and assignments, participate in the discussion board, and communicate with your instructor.

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