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Ecofeminism describes movements and philosophies that link feminism with ecology.[1] The term is believed to have been coined by the French writer Françoise d'Eaubonne in her book, Le Féminisme ou la Mort (1974).[2] Ecofeminism connects the exploitation and domination of women with that of the environment, and argues that there is a connection between women and nature. Ecofeminists believe that this connection is illustrated through the traditionally 'female' values of reciprocity, nurturing and cooperation, which are present both among women and in nature. Additionally, ecofeminists draw connections between menstruation and moon cycles, childbirth and creation etc. Women and nature are also united through their shared history of oppression by a patriarchal Western society.

Vandana Shiva claims that women have a special connection to the environment through their daily interactions and this connection has been ignored. She says that women in subsistence economies who produce "wealth in partnership with nature, have been experts in their own right of holistic and ecological knowledge of nature's processes." However she makes the point that "these alternative modes of knowing, which are oriented to the social benefits and sustenance needs are not recognized by the capitalist reductionist paradigm, because it fails to perceive the interconnectedness of nature, or the connection of women's lives, work and knowledge with the creation of wealth."[3]

Feminist and social ecologist Janet Biehl has criticized ecofeminism for focusing too much on a mystical connection between women and nature and not enough on the actual conditions of women.[4] Rosemary Radford Ruether joins Janet Biehl in critiquing this focus on mysticism over work that focuses on helping women, but argues that spirituality and activism can be combined effectively in ecofeminism.[5]


In Ecofeminism (1993) authors Vandana Shiva and Maria Mies critique modern science and its acceptance as a universal and value-free system. Instead, they view the dominant stream of modern science as a projection of Western men's values.[6] The privilege of determining what is considered scientific knowledge has been controlled by men, and for the most part of history restricted to men. Shiva and Miles list example including the medicalization of childbirth and the industrialization of plant reproduction.[6]

These authors argue that the medicalization of childbirth has marginalized midwife knowledge and changed the natural process of childbirth into a procedure dependent on specialized technologies and appropriated expertise. Similarly, the dependence of agriculture on industrially produced seed and fertilizer makes a natural, regenerative process dependent on technological input.[6]

A common claim within ecofeminist literature is that patriarchal structures justify their dominance through binary opposition, these include but are not limited to: heaven/earth, mind/body, male/female, human/animal, spirit/matter, culture/nature and white/non-white.[7] Oppression is reinforced by assuming truth in these binaries and instilling them as 'sacred' through religious and scientific constructs.[7]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ MacGregor, Sherilyn (2006). Beyond mothering earth: ecological citizenship and the politics of care. Vancouver: UBC Press. p. 286. ISBN 0-7748-1201-X. 
  2. ^ a b (Merchant, Carolyn. "Chapter 8." In Radical ecology: the search for a livable world. New York: Routledge, 1992. 184)
  3. ^ Shiva, Vandana (1988). Staying alive: women, ecology and development. London: Zed Books. ISBN 978-0-86232-823-8. 
  4. ^ Biehl, Janet (1991). Rethinking eco-feminist politics. Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press. ISBN 978-0-89608-392-9. 
  5. ^ a b Ruether, Rosemary Radford (2003). Heather Eaton & Lois Ann Lorentzen, ed. Ecofeminism and Globalization. Lanham, Boulder, New York, Toronto, Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield. pp. vii – xi. ISBN 0-7425-2697-6. 
  6. ^ a b c (Mies, Maria, and Vandana Shiva. Ecofeminism. Halifax, N.S. : Fernwood Publications; 1993. 24.)
  7. ^ a b (Hobgood-Oster, Laura. "Ecofeminism: Historic and International Evolution." (accessed March 17, 2012) )
  8. ^ (Ralte, Lalrinawmi . "The World as the Body of God Ecofeminist Theological Discourse with Special Reference to Tribal Women in India. Www. (accessed March 24, 2012))
  9. ^ LaRosa, Patricia. "Finding Aid for Rosemary Radford Ruether Papers, 1954-2002". Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  10. ^ "Who's Who of Women and the Environment". Retrieved 15 March 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

Journal articles

Also see ecotopian literature and feminist science fiction


External links[edit]