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“Women have long been associated with nature.”
In the following essay Judith Plant sets out the main principles (in regards to ecofeminism): the closeness of women to nature; the belief that the domination of women and the destruction of nature have the same root cause; patriarchy; and the need to re-establish for nature the organic metaphor over the machine metaphor.
Judith Plant believes that women have long been associated with nature and that historically, women have had no real power in the outside world, no place in decision-making. Other things such as the intellectual life, the work of the mind, have traditionally not been accessible to women for many reasons. Some of these reasons have included society’s mentality. According to Judith, today, ecology speaks for the earth, and feminism speaks for the ‘other’ in female/male relations. As for ecofeminism, she believes that by speaking for the original ‘others’, it seeks to understand the interconnected roots of all domination, and ways to resist the change.
Historically, people were more connected with the earth years ago, mainly because of the fact that many of these people were involved with the earth in some way in their daily lives, through being peasants and living a ordinary existence. But now the earth has become more mechanized and industrialized. Before that, the earth, the giver and supporter of life, was viewed as female, and symbolized by woman, as was the image of disorder, with her storms, droughts, and other natural disasters.
Judith Plant states that because of the view humans used to hold of the earth, they would in a way serve as constraints. ‘Mother Earth’ was seen to be alive and sensitive, and no one would consider destroying her in any way. A good example of this strong belief and view towards the earth could be seen in miners. In order to not prevent one of these rules, or in other words to not act ‘”improperly” towards ‘Mother Earth’ rituals were carried out. Miners would give offerings to the gods of the soil and the subterranean world, perform ceremonial sacrifices, and observe sexual abstinence and fasting before violating what was considered to be the sacred earth.
The change that resulted from the growth in the mechanized and industrialized world was very different. Unlike the visions of the earth before, the new images were of controlling and dominating or having power of nature.
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Feminism Other Things Mother Earth Historically Natural Disasters Peasants Decision-making Miners Judith Mentality
“Where the nurturing image had once been a cultural constraint, the new image of mastery allowed the clearing of forests and the damming of rivers.”
Judith Plant continues on this idea by stating that one theory bases this tendency for domination over nature on the human fear that nature is more powerful than human beings. By controlling nature, in a way society can seemingly assume power over life. Thus, “women, with their biological connections with life-giving, are a constant reminder of the reality of human mortality.”
Ecofeminism, as thought to be by Judith Plant, gives women and men common ground. Women have learned to think equally to men, and while women may have been associated with nature, this does not imply that they have been socialized in a differently from men. Judith believes the social system is not good for neither men nor women. Yet because we ourselves are the social system we need to find some common ground from which to be “self conscious, to enable us to recognize and affect the deep structure of our relations, with each other and with our environment.”
The point of view presented by Judith Plant is very persuasive. Although some may see it as somewhat biased because of the fact that it is written by a woman, in my opinion it is far from that. Plant simply states a fact, one which in many ways should be obvious to us. She follows that with persuasive arguments and factual evidence.
Not only women but also men, and nature itself need a new view of ourselves, while we begin to fix our relations with each other and also with “Mother Earth”. This view is a reflection of what we are learning through the study of ecology as well as feminism. We must realize the consequences of our actions before it is too late. We often do not realize the effect that even the slight actions which we partake in each day have upon the entire earth. So how is it that we oversee so many things which are part of the earth, and will we be able to make a change for the better before it is too late?
The first part of this essay will outline the main arguments of the feminist ecologists and deal with the concept of Ecofeminism. The second part will sketch the main arguments of Rosemary Radford Reuther book, "Gaia and God". The final part of this essay will analyze: Starhawk's The Spiral Dance, "Witchcraft as Goddess Religion", The Homeric Hymn to Demeter, and "the Descent of Inanna" and examine the pros and cons of the position that a return to goddess worship would save our planet.
Ecofeminism is a multicultural perspective on the interconnectedness of social systems of domination and the domination of non-human nature. It recognizes the cultural and political links between ecology and feminism. Ecofeminism is a value system, a social movement, and a practice. It criticizes the mainstream green movement and challenges the fundamental ideas of the western patriarchy about women, nature science, and "development".
Ecofeminism is an admixture of ecology and feminism. A French feminist, Francoise d'Eaubonne, first used it in 1974 (Mellor, 1997 p. 44). Ecological feminism focuses on gender as a category of analysis and the perspectives of women are integral to its analysis, it is committed to the importance of valuing and preserving ecosystems. The movement recognizes all social systems of domination: racism, classicism, ageism, and sexism as interconnecting.
The world's dominant socioeconomic and political structure is the western patriarchal capitalism. The system is based on hierarchies of class, race, and gender and the domination and exploitation of nature. It is insensitive to social concepts of justice, equity, and freedom. Economic, political, and social structures, the world's dominant ideologies, and values support patriarchy. The belief in a universal reasonable man, and the reliance on modern science and technology enable white middle class men to dominate and exploit "others".
Patriarchy is a system of social structures and practices in which men dominate, oppress, and exploit women. It is based on an ideology of men's superiority over women/nature. The subordination takes various forms: discrimination, disregard, insult, control, exploitation, oppression, and violence. Science and religion support patriarchal assumptions of male superiority over nature and women as biologically determined. In pre-patriarchal, pagan societies, women and nature were worshiped as life-givers. In Christian belief, God creates man in his image, and women and nature for the benefit of man. "Adam is Soul, Eve is Flesh".
Ecological feminists (Gaard, Heller) argue that culture defines the connection of women and nature. Men are as much part of nature as women are. However, the patriarchal culture identifies women with body, sex, irrationality, passivity, and earth. It is decided that women are closer to nature. Men identify with spirit, mind, action, and power; they are rational, stable, reliable,...
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