Neutral Tech? Cultural Nature
© Debra Uhls, 1996

Statement · Biography · Essay

Ecofeminism
Debra Uhls

"No political movement on the contemporary scene has achieved the astonishing range of feminism . . . the movement has generously grown to embrace issues of race, poverty, sexual preference, child abuse, war, the Third World, religion, endangered cultures, endangered species, the global environment." (Theodore Roszak, The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology, p. 238.)

The term "ecofeminisme" was first used in 1974 by a French literary [critic] who encouraged women to develop their potential at preserving the ecological balance of the earth. Francoise d'Eaubonne considered this potential to be realized in an ecological revolution. As such, present ecofeminism is considered a social movement on the leading edge, and includes peace, feminist, and ecological concerns, as well as drawing content from ancient traditions. Ecofeminism identifies patriarchal dominations: sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism, plus naturism. It is the union of radical or cultural feminism with radical ecology. Ecofeminism's approach further develops feminism in relation to the natural environment. Its tenets include diversity through relationship, mutuality rather than use, and rejection of the either/or approach that encourages exclusion. The idea is to identify patriarchal culture in its forms of domination: industrial, mechanistic, militaristic and hierarchical.

"The domination of nature originates in society and therefore must be resolved in society . . . it is the embodied woman as social historical agent, rather than as a product of natural law, who is the subject of ecofeminism . . . . In ecofeminism, nature is the central category of analysis. An analysis of the interrelated dominations of nature - psyche and sexuality, human oppression, and nonhuman nature - and the historic position of women in relation to those forms of domination, is the starting point of ecofeminist theory." (Ynestra King, "Healing the Wounds" in Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism, p. 117.)

Other compatible movements are deep ecology, Green Politics, bioregionalism, creation-centered spirituality and animal rights.

To open any gate one's brain must first receive the message. The physical action through body follows. Direct experience of our environment is required to perceive the "nature of the wild." Nature is a whole system. Earth's circulatory system is complex and alive. Water is a common thread for life's continuance. The weather is another indicator of the health of the planet. "By changing the weather we make every spot on earth manmade [sic] and artificial. We have deprived nature of its independence, and that is fatal to its meaning." (Catherine Keller, "Talk about the Weather," in Ecofeminism and the Sacred, p. 33.)

Quality is of utmost importance in consideration of all relationships and relatedness. Myriad life forms are placed logically and naturally rather than artificially. The result is a becoming of a fecund and prolific nature. Monoculture and monocropping result in the reduction of diverse cultures and the desertification of land. The human population of Earth increases profoundly daily. With this growth, the earth becomes more and more incapable of abundantly fulfilling the base needs of the planet's community.

Colonialism, militarism, and technological control make up, and have shaped the modern patriarchal world view. Appropriation of lands, of metals and minerals, of agriculture, and now of genetic code and outer space make up the modes of exploitation. Use and consumption is Materialism's expression (GREED). All take/no give. Loss of the patriarchal system could lead to a more egalitarian partnership in which difference signifies neither inferiority nor superiority.

"We need to recognize our utter dependence on the great life-producing matrix of the planet in order to learn to reintegrate our human systems of production, consumption, and waste into ecological patterns by which nature sustains life. This might begin by revisualizing the relation of mind, or human intelligence to nature." (Rosemary Radford Ruether, "Ecofeminism," in Ecofeminism and the Sacred, p. 21.)

Technology has become a very real part of the human existence. As such, it must recognize its responsibilities to sustaining life and become less a tool for domination and oppression. ". . . no revolution in human history has succeeded without a strong cultural foundation and a utopian vision." (Ynestra King, "Healing the Wounds" in Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism, p. 115.)

Alienation through disconnection, pessimism, and nihilism of that considered "Other" is at best degradation. Reconciliation of a communitarian ethic to our relationships must be created to continue evolution naturally. Our entrance back to nature cannot be in part but rather wholly.

Bibliography

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Diamond, Irene and Orenstein, Gloria Feman, Editors, Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, 1990.

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