Ecofeminism, environmental failure, and a freak out

Needless to say, severe weather kind of freaks me out. It’s not in a hide under the bed during thunder storms kind of way. It’s much more about my fears for what it means about the (lack of?) health and well-being of our planet. Musing on the many and severe weather conditions that have hit close to home over the past two years, and repeatedly feeling how uncanny it has all been, I’m on the verge of major freak out. At what point do we stop looking at severe droughts, super storms, flooding, tornadoes, and hurricanes as a long string of bad luck, and start looking at the causes?

Stewing on this, and on the recent Colorlines post What Hurricane Sandy should teach us about climate justice, I’m reminded of some core principles of ecofeminism.

“Ecofeminism is based on the theory that the oppression of women and the oppression of nature are fundamentally linked. In ecofeminist literature, ecofeminism is often described as the belief that environmentalism and feminism are intrinsically connected. Another definition suggests that discrimination and oppression based on gender, race and class are directly related to the exploitation and destruction of the environment.” (view source)

As long as we live in a world that validates, promotes, and normalizes power and privilege, we will live in a world with all of the tools needed to promote hate, violence, and devastation. We’re talking about privilege associate with race, class, gender, etc. or a system that privileges industry over environment.

The Colorlines article discusses the disproportionate impact of the recent storm on working class and working poor neighborhoods. The people who were most affected were also most likely to have limited access to resources, and to have brown or black skin. Relief workers didn’t come to some of the most devastated neighborhoods. Systematic privileging prevails. We also know that the risk of experiencing sexual violence skyrockets during disaster situations. All of those things that are already risk factors for experiencing violence--they're exacerbated in times of disaster.

It also suggests that we are at a turning point. We have an opportunity to turn toward eco-friendly fuel sources, an efficient economy, and one that provides stable employment to the people who were laid off during the economic downturn. We also have an opportunity to break down the tools of hate that allow all of this scary stuff to continue. What have you done to dismantle hate today? How have you acknowledged privilege in your everyday life? It is way past time to start asking the tough questions. It’s time to gather some new tools that will help us build a better world.

Eve Ensler offered an inspired Ted Talk, Suddenly, my body. It’s graphic and terrible; it's lovely and poetic. It makes me think about valuing bodies, understanding connections between our bodies and nature, and a healing journey. I leave you with it, because it feels like pure ecofeminism to me.