How Do Gender, Food, & Vegetarian Ecofeminism Relate?

What would you think if I told you that food consumption is gendered? Can you reflect on dinner last night? What did you eat? If you ate with others, what did they eat? Connect this with their gender identity and think, does this coincide with patriarchal ideologies?

I ask you this as I interpret the image included in the right side of the margin. Pictured is what appears to be a figure similar to that of the Pillsbury Doughboy mascot, cutting into a slab of meat placed on a cutting board. Now let’s dig deeper into the meaning of this image in relation to the vegetarian ecofeminist perspective. Drawing from Eisenberg’s, “Meat Heads: New Study Focuses on How Meat Consumption Alters Men’s Self-Perceived Levels of Masculinity,” meat consumption has been connected with masculinity as a symbol of what it means to be a “real man” (2017). The figure resembling that of a male mascot can be understood as a male cutting into meat, the main course of food for a masculine diet. Continuing to draw focus on the figure, it appears to have no face or distinct features. This represents the disembodiment of humans as we have lost connection and sympathy to non-human animals in creating a distinction between “person and animal” (Curtin 68). If we were to incorporate a feminist lens, the image can be related to the use of food to connect the oppression of women to the oppression of non-human animals as the male figure controls the exploitation of the meat. The incorporation of two knives, one stuck in the meat and the other being used to cut into the meat, could also represent multiple ways of violence towards non-human animals as Gaard refers to this as a “group condition of oppression” (20). Finally, I found the scale sizing of the image significant as the figure appears much smaller than the rest of the image. This could connect to how one individual choice can have a significant impact when choosing to consume meat such as outlined in Curtin’s “Contextual Moral Vegetarianism,” as she states, “…much of the effect of the eating practices of persons in the industrialized countries is felt in oppressed countries” (69). We may feel like our decisions are not going to affect the larger picture, when actually, if we are all thinking with the same individualistic mindset, then oppression will be felt universally. 

Diving more into the world of gendered foods, let’s look at some examples in mainstream society. 

First, the femininity of yogurt.

Image via HowStuffWorks

Women have countlessly been the face of yogurt advertisements, their faces filled with pure joy as they take a spoonful of fermented dairy. According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, yogurt is filled with live bacterial content that lowers the risk of diseases such as obesity, diabetes, Crohn’s, and irritable bowel syndrome. Now you may be thinking, what’s the big deal with yogurt then? Examining this from a vegetarian ecofeminist perspective, there are several problems in making this a gendered food. Targeting women in yogurt consumption constructs the belief that women need to eat “healthy” foods, specifically ones that maintain weight at a lower level as Curtin states, “…women, more than men, experience the effects of culturally sanctioned oppressive attitudes toward the appropriate shape of the body” (68). As marketing pairs the face of a woman with a bowl of yogurt and fruit, this is justification of patriarchal attitudes in which women must maintain an ideal body and this starts with eating “feminine” foods. Tackling this from the non-human animal point of view, yogurt (besides the dairy-free options) is made with dairy products. This comes from dairy cows and in the United States, factory farming is very prevalent where “…dairy cows are so overworked that they begin to metabolize their own muscle in order to continue to produce milk, a process referred to in the industry as ‘milking off their backs’” (Gaard 20). The exploitation of non-human animals paired with feminization of food disconnects human life from all other forms of life on the planet. 

Next, the masculinity of BBQ ribs.

Image via iStock

When we think of “manly” foods we picture a face covered in barbecue sauce as teeth are gnawing the meat right off the bone because that’s what a “real man” eats right? Throughout generations, meat has been connected with masculine consumption but as Eisenberg states, “…it’s argued that the connection between meat and masculinity goes far beyond typical sexist advertising as it articulates the hidden connections between meat eating and patriarchy” (2017). While women are expected to take up less space in the world, men are assumed to do the opposite as the bigger the body, the larger the dominance. However this narrative of masculinity has shifted the attitude toward the body in a way that separates us into distinct species separate from that of the non-human animal (Curtin 68). To say that men are to eat meat not only oppresses women in society but also non-human animals as they are exploited, marginalized, and left powerless all while the human animal enjoys a plate full of ribs that once belonged to a life that did not ask to be taken. 

As we continue to exploit non-human animals through avoidable consumption, we will further oppress those lives that are not our own. Greta Gaard explores her perception on vegetarian ecofeminism in her piece, “Ecofeminism on the Wing: Perspectives on Human-Animal Relations,” as she argues this to be the next step from ecofeminism as it allows “…feminists who politicize their care for animals see a specific linkage between sexism and speciesism, between the oppression of women and the oppression of animals” (19-20). In this, Gaard urges that speciesism diminishes the sympathy humans have for non-human animals as they place their own interests superior and separate from that of the non-human animal. This allows for conditions of marginalization, exploitation, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence to be committed. This does not have to only relate to the exploitation of wild animals through captivity, poaching, hunting, and factory farming but also the domesticity of animals as power imbalances and control allows humans to ignore inter-species relationships.

Image via Feminists For Animal Rights

Gaard draws from the work of Carol Adams in which she states, “Attention to suffering makes us ethically responsible” (22). It is our responsibility as human animals to have compassion and sympathy for non-human animals in recognizing the oppression that is being inflicted upon life and it is through this mutual respect in which foreign relationships can be reestablished and “….encourage us to create an ecological, radically democratic society where freely-chosen inter-species relationships are possible, and in the process, we’ll be able to reclaim a piece of our own wild selves as well” (Gaard 22). 

Deane Curtin focuses more specifically on contextual moral vegetarianism in which “…the caring-for approach responds to particular contexts and histories. It recognizes that the reasons for moral vegetarianism may differ by locale, by gender, as well as by class” (68). In this perception, non-human animals are still perceived as connected and in need of respect by human animals; however, when in the context of survival, geographical barriers that prohibit the option of a vegetarian diet, and cultural beliefs that ritualize and pay respect to their non-human animal source of food, the killing of animals is permitted. It is important to understand that while contextual moral vegetarianism honors differences in context and history, this is avoidable in countries such as the United States who have the resources and ability to live a healthy life devoted to respect of all life including those of non-human animals.

Curtin provides three ways in which thinking, and practices of speciesism are oppressive:

First, when there is a choice of what food one can consume, killing animals for food inflicts pain that is unnecessary as “…the body is oneself, and that by inflicting violence needlessly, one’s bodily self becomes a context for violence. One becomes violent by taking part in violent food practices” (Curtin 69). 

Secondly, factory farms are responsible for the production of animals which will be killed for consumption. These farms are genetically engineering animals through hormone and steroid injections while being kept in crowded and unsanitary conditions. 

Thirdly, the eating practices of industrialized nations oppresses those living in developing nations as “land owned by the wealthy that was once used to grow inexpensive crops for local people has been converted to the production of products (beef) for export” (Curtin 69). 

Image via The Vegan Strategist

As displayed in the reasons above, when having the choice in diet and still choosing to engage in practices that exploit the non-human animal, there is evidence of oppression for all forms of life. Each of the ecofeminist perspectives touched upon in this blog provides that there is a need for this extension of theoretical viewpoint. Feminism notes that patriarchal hierarchies of power oppress women in society while ecofeminism connects this oppression to nature. Vegetarian ecofeminism acknowledges that there is a need for ethical responsibility in the treatment of non-human animal life equal to our own. 

“I envision a time when all humans recognize ourselves as merely one species of animals, and restore right relations with the rest of our extended families” (Curtin 22). 


Works Cited:

Curtin, Deane. “Toward an Ecological Ethic of Care.” Hypatia, vol. 6, no. 1, 1991, pp. 60–74., Accessed 17 Feb. 2023. 

Eisenberg, Zoe. “Meat Heads: New Study Focuses on How Meat Consumption Alters Men’s Self-Perceived Levels of Masculinity.” HuffPost, 13 Jan. 2017, 

Gaard, Greta. “Ecofeminism on the Wing: Perspectives on Human-Animal Relations.” Women & Environments, 2001, Accessed 17 Feb. 2023.

My Place on the Farm

Home to me feels like waking up to the sound of birds chirping, chickens clucking, and bugs hissing. Growing up in a rural town filled with farms and acreage of landscape, I consider myself connected with nature. You can drive for miles and see all the wonders that Earth provides, the resources that our capitalist society has commodified. 

However, simply living amongst nature does not foster connection, but rather living in harmony and appreciation of the soil that lays beneath our feet informs us who we really are. 

As a little girl I remember staring at the landscapes in awe of how such beauty can exist. As I got older, the land began to disappear more and more each year. Trees no longer housed the cardinals that would sing each morning but instead were clear cut to make way for endless housing developments. The garden patch of vegetables was no longer filled with bountiful harvest but instead a swimming pool swishing with chlorinated water. 

Although a generous amount of the rural town I grew up in is now urbanized to an extent, the landscape that I reside on tells the story of who I am. 

Image by Kylie Coutinho

Soak in the picture to the left. Although I took this a couple of summers ago, each time I look back at it I am still amazed at all the details in this picture that defines the landscape that informs who I am. 

I am fortunate enough to be able to continue a family farm, ten acres of nature’s beauty. My roots have always been tied to this rural farm town and I can live out my history everyday connecting to all those who treasured the land before me. 

I look at this picture and see a sky filled with the aura of tranquility. I see the fertile soil damp with water and covered in roots under the surface. The green stalks are grown and full of life, providing us with the natural resource in the form of human fuel and I cannot help but think why is it that we are not all able to witness this? Why have we allowed the disconnect between the environment to occur that our ancestors have proven to work so effectively for generations?

Image by Kylie Coutinho

Although we grow a diverse selection of flora, the picture I have included is a close-up of the section of soil that housed the sweet corn we were growing that season. It amazes me that a single planted seed can germinate into something that nourishes us and provides a pollination field for the honey bees that circle around in hopes of finding something other than towering buildings. Watching the process of growth is astonishing as bell hooks writes, “…soil, that was the source of life” (363). Each day I go out witnessing nature’s miracle that is about to occur over the next few months. First a small sprout, then a stalk begins to emerge, then the leaves, the tassel, and the ears with their breathtaking silks. 

Image by Stock Montage/Getty Images

Westport, Massachusetts was once home to the Wampanoag tribe before white colonists stepped on the land with the only desire to control as if it were in possession of humans rather than a part of life. A quote from bell hooks’ Touching the Earth hit close to home as she writes, “Sharing the reverence for the Earth, black and red people helped one another remember that, despite the white man’s ways, the land belonged to everyone…we are part of the Earth and it is part of us” (364). As I look at my landscape, I am brought back to the moment in history where corn held many uses. Our technology driven world has changed farming of land to modern agriculture in which corn is now a monoculture filled with endless chemicals in order for farmers to make a living and capitalism to get its production and profit. I seek to diminish that in my own landscape as corn is not a chemical but rather a gift from nature. 

bell hooks expresses the displacement that people of color felt when forced to move to the industrialized North, far away from the landscape that the South provided. They were now disconnected from the peace and happiness that the land brought them, but instead struggled to appreciate life (366). As I leave my own place each day to enter into the city in which our jobs and education bring us into, the world of hectic consumes me. I countdown the minutes until I am able to reach home again, where all the worries of modern life are able to shed away and I am able to embrace the life that surrounds me remembering that this is what life should be. 

Now I understand that location is not an equal choice for all. bell hooks speaks of this historically as many people of color moved to Northern cities during the Great Migration in hopes of escaping racial violence and seeking better opportunities for economic freedom (366). This raises the question whether a connection between the Earth and one’s history is possible when living under the lights of the city. 

hooks suggests that industrialized lifestyles have created an estrangement between nature and body as “…the way the body was represented became more important than the body itself. It did not matter if the body was well, only that it appeared well” (366). What a powerful quote. The farther we become with the natural world, the more our body becomes a machine rather than a sacred composition. 

Image via PxHere

Systematic hierarchies have created barriers for individuals to have access to the natural world as our ancestors once had. We need to break free from this as all people need wilderness. As Barbara Kingslover states in her piece, Knowing Our Place, “Wilderness puts us in our place. It reminds us that our plans are small and somewhat absurd” (2002). Our lifestyles have forced us to create lists of things we have to do before the clock strikes midnight and berate ourselves when we don’t get to the finish line. The goal is to get through that list no matter what we have to disconnect from in order to get there and Kingslover tells us that we need to stop and think as our choices affect lives that are not our own (2002). Wilderness needs to be available to all so we can make the connection that there is life beyond the confinements of production and it is in those moments that we realize if we don’t start appreciating what the natural world has to offer, then it will be gone and forgotten. 

My own landscape coincides with Williams’ bedrock of democracy in which he expresses how each of us belongs to a specific landscape. That landscape will inform who we are, it will carry our history and hold our dreams and it is not until we recognize our association with the natural world and our own landscape that we will be able to care for the very land that nurtures our soul. He tells us that it is not simply recognizing this association but rather we need to put the work into preserving it. We have control and a say in how we foster the land and it is our responsibility to do so. We need to come together with those of our places and preserve the landscape that informs us who we truly are (Williams 19). 

When I look at the landscape that surrounds me I recognize that I need to connect to foster my relationship with the natural world and find ways in which I can spread this through my community so that future generations can continue this bond and value the Earth we live on. It is not until we live harmoniously with the land that we can understand our place.

I have found that place on my farm. 

Enjoy the collection of pictures I have taken from the landscape that informs who I am, where I understand my place and where I find my connection with nature. 

I feel joy staring at the sunflowers. 

Curious amongst the trees. 

Image by Kylie Coutinho

Touched as I hear the water flowing in the nearby stream. 

Grateful to care for chickens and wonderstruck when they lay their eggs. 

Content when I see the chickens and goat range free in the grass.

Thankful for the food harvested at the end of the season. 

And most importantly I feel at home in my body as I stand amongst the natural world establishing the connection that I hold with the land. 

“When the Earth is sacred to us, our bodies can also be sacred to us” (hooks 368). 


Works Cited

hooks, bell. “Touching The Earth.” Orion Magazine, 1996, 

Kingslover, Barbara. “Knowing Our Place .” Small Wonder, HarperCollins, New York, NY, 2002, pp. 31–40. 

Williams, Terry Tempest. “Home Work.” Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert, Vintage Books, New York , NY, 2002, pp. 3–19. 

A Look Into the Non-Western Perspective of Ecofeminism and Why It’s Important!

How many times did you turn the knobs on the faucet today? Have you visited the doctor when you felt something was off with your health? Have you ever felt like sitting in a classroom was taking too much time out of your day? Do you ever think of how much food we waste because we can always buy more on our next trip to the grocery store? 

I ask you to think of these questions as an opener to this blog because they include the very resources that we take for granted far too often as individuals living in the Global North. However, these are the basic necessities that are lacking and even absent for those living in the Global South, women being most severely affected.

Image via Brandeis University

Bina Agarwal, in her piece,  The Gender and Environmental Debate: Lessons from India, defines an alternative theoretical framework to the Western perspective of ecofeminism in what she calls, Feminist Environmentalism. This theoretical perspective “…locates both the symbolic and material links between people and the environment in their specific forms of interaction with it, and traces gender and class differentiation in these links to a given gender and class division of labor, property, and power” (Agarwal 146). That is, women are not just linked to nature ideologically but also materially as they work and learn from the land. Therefore, women are not only victims of the destruction of nature, but also most knowledgeable about nature (Agarwal 126).      

Now let’s do a little comparison and contrast of Agarwal and Hobgood-Oster’s ecofeminism perspectives keeping in mind that neither is correct, we all have our own experiences and theoretical beliefs!

Image by Martyn Aim via Teen Vogue

Hobgood-Oster in her piece,  “Ecofeminism: Historic and International Evolution,” provides a Western perspective of ecofeminism in which, “…asserts that all forms of oppression are connected…oppression of the natural world and of women by patriarchal power structures must be examined together or neither can be confronted fully” (2005). In this perspective, there is an established connection between the domination of women and the domination of nature perpetuated by the male-centered patriarchy and capitalistic ideology. For example, effects of industrialization include air pollution which affects many U.S. children. Because women are considered nurturers, they hold the responsibility of caring for children experiencing these health impacts due to domination of the environment. While this reflects the system of the Global North, there is critique in this perspective as it has hints of essentialism through ignoring the differentiation amongst women while also leaving out the material relationships that women have with the environment. 

Image via berita fajar

Agarwal provides a non-Western perspective of ecofeminism, Feminist Environmentalism, in which establishes a connection between women and the environment “…structured by a given gender and class (/caste/race) organization of production, reproduction, and distribution” (127). That is, the material links that women have with the environment are structured through various factors of identity, eliminating essentialism and expressing that there are gender divisions in labor, class, property, and accessibility to resources. The environment is survival for women of the Global South and therefore they are victims and advocates in the degradation of the land. For example, we can look at the Chipko movement in India. Women are the laborers in gathering food, water, and taking care of children and families. Therefore, with the rise in deforestation and other forms of ecological degradation came floods and landslides. This not only depleted the resources, but impacted the livelihood of women leading them to become advocates in protecting the environment firsthand.

Image via Humans and Nature

Vandana Shiva, Indian physicist and social activist speaks of the interconnection between humans and nature that has been separated resulting in the ecological crisis that our globe is facing. In her interview with Scott London, she describes how society has split the need for ecological sustainability from the need of social justice when instead they must be linked for effective change to occur. She calls for the need of biodiversity both in ecological systems and human culture as we have “…gotten so used to manipulating objects and organisms and ecosystems for a single objective that we ignore the costs involved…ecological destruction is a form of injustice…environmental movements have been justice movements” (Shiva 2016). What does this mean? The Western perspective focuses more on the ecological aspect of saving the environment with probable ways of taking action. The non-Western perspective focuses on the degradation of the environment and the threat to survival with women jumping into the movement and taking action.

While there are differences in both ecofeminism perspectives, there are commonalities in which women are disproportionately affected at elevated rates by harmful influences to nature. The themes of greed and privilege are recurring as power imbalances leave women at the bottom of sufficient resources while working harder for an adequate livelihood. 

Image via Pixabay

Focusing on our perspective of the day, non-Western ecofeminism, Agarwal describes the factors of class-gender effects that contribute to the scarcity of natural resources that continue to be depleted in the Global South. She describes two factors: growing degradation of both quantity and quality as well as the increase of statization and privatization (Agarwal 129). If we were to break this down further, deforestation threatens natural resources such as groundwater, soil fertility, and firewood for fuel while increase of statization allows the state to take control of the forests and village commons and privatization allows ownership by privileged individuals, usually male, to make the commons available to select members of the community, excluding women (Agarwal 131). 

Now how does environmental degradation affect women of the Global South?

Image by Shutterstock via The Conversation

Reason #1: A gender division of labor. 

Women in poor peasant and tribal households are doing most of the gathering and fetching of resources while having the additional responsibility of family care. Women are also the sole economic providers in female-headed households (Agarwal 137). 

Image by pixelfusion3d via iStock by Getty Images

Reason #2: Systematic gender differences in the distribution of subsistence resources.

Women are less likely to receive adequate food and health care despite holding responsibility in providing this for others (Agarwal 137). Women are more likely to face nutritional problems and exposure to waterborne diseases due to gendered labor division (Agarwal 141). Access to clean water is important due to the specific hygiene needs of women and girls as well as the threat to personal safety as fetching water can be dangerous, time-consuming, and physically demanding (United Nations 2021). 

Reason #3: Significant inequalities in women’s and men’s access to the most critical productive resources in rural economies, agricultural land, and technology.

Women are systematically disadvantaged as they have fewer employment opportunities, less occupation mobility, less training, and lower pay for equal work (Agarwal 137). Women have limited rights in private property resources and with the privatization of land, women have less access to the shared resources and connections provided by the commons (Agarwal 137). 

Image via Pixabay

As demonstrated above, women are connected to the environment and face the detrimental impacts of degradation due to material links with natural resources. Reflecting on my own position, I find the feminist environmentalism perspective outlined by Agarwal most appealing. It is through this alternative theoretical framework in which women are recognized as victims of ecological destruction but also “repositories of knowledge” (Agarwal 126) allowing them to become active advocates in justice for change. Rather than calling for change, women become the change and that is what I urge each of us to do in our own communities. Harm to our environment becomes a human rights issue. We need to recognize that our connection with the environment is diverse as we share the land. 


Works Cited

Agarwal, Bina. “The Gender and Environment Debate: Lessons from India.” Feminist Studies, vol. 18, no. 1, 1992, pp. 119–158., Accessed 9 Feb. 2023. 

Hobgood-Oster, Laura. “Ecofeminism: Historic and International Evolution.” Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, edited by Bron Taylor, Continuum, London & New York , 2005, pp. 533–539,–Ecofeminism.pdf. Accessed 9 Feb. 2023.

When Moana, Toxic Waste, and Ecofeminism Unite

It happened so many years ago, so it doesn’t affect us today, why does it matter? It’s not happening in my neighborhood so I’m safe. These are the very thoughts that run through individualistic minds as we tend to look past the stories we see in the media affecting other parts of the world. What if I told you that it is this very mindset that places patriarchy at the top? Would the next environmental issue plaguing society catch your attention and have you searching for ways to take action?

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s look at West Lake Landfill, a 200-acre site located in Bridgeton, Missouri, a designated Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 1990. Now let’s break this down further. A “Superfund site” is a polluted location which is identified by the EPA as in need of specialized long-term clean up due to the presence of toxic and hazardous waste contaminants. 

Now onto a brief history lesson on West Lake Landfill. During World War II, a St. Louis based company named, Mallinckrodt Chemical Works, manufactured uranium for nuclear weapons research to create atomic bombs for the Manhattan Project. The waste created in this process was then purchased by Cotter Corporation who then illegally dumped it in where we started, West Lake Landfill. Although the dumping took place in 1973, 50 years ago to be exact, the environmental and health impacts are not so distant. 

In 2010, Republic Services, West Lake Landfill’s new owner, discovered an underground fire at the nearby Bridgeton Landfill, only 600 feet away from the radioactive waste site. Residents living nearby reported odd smells as a result

Image via KSDK

of the fire in addition to other health implications such as cancer and asthma. Despite all of the adverse effects that this site has presented, the area remains under the EPA and is only now being looked into for the extent of the waste.


Now you may be thinking, how does this all relate to ecofeminism? I’ll tell you why.

According to Hobgood-Oster’s, “Ecofeminism: Historic and International Evolution,” ecofeminism “…asserts that all forms of oppression are connected and that structures of oppression must be addressed in their totality. Oppression of the natural world and of women by patriarchal power structures must be examined together or neither can be confronted fully” (2005). Now what does this mean in simpler terms? 

Let’s break it down into two components:

Image by Juliette Nast via The Leaflet

Environmentalism is the concern about the natural world, aimed at protecting the environment.

Feminism is the advocacy around women’s rights based on equality for all sexes whether it be socially, politically, or economically.

Now let’s connect the two to create ecofeminism, where both the degradation of the environment and the oppression of women are consequences of patriarchy and capitalism and therefore cannot be understood separately. 

However, like most theories, there are criticisms and concerns to be aware of. As Hobgood-Oster describes, there is no one ecofeminist theory as stances change over time with location and “…because of this constant morphing, ecofeminism simultaneously challenges patriarchies from different angles” (2005). Therefore, it is crucial not to generalize ecofeminist theory and more importantly, we must be cautious of the binary that feminism seeks to diminish. 

Ecofeminist perspectives may often correlate a strong connection between women and nature reinforcing essentialist perspectives. Essentialism being the belief that “…a particular race, gender or other category share the same traits” (Hobgood-Oster 2005). As ecofeminists we want to analyze how systems of patriarchy aid in the oppression of nature and women, but not assume that all women are the same.

Here’s an example of a connection between women and nature from the well-known animated movie, Moana.

Image via

Moana is set out on a cultural journey of identity when she recovers the lost heart of Te Fiti, the “giver of life.” The island is plagued by a curse through the evil spirit of the demigod, and it is the ocean who chooses Moana to restore life much like the history of masculine domination we read about in Hobgood-Oster’s ecofeminism piece. Moana holds a close connection with nature as the ocean guides her on her journey ultimately returning the heart to the goddess herself who can restore life. Here the creation of life is feminized insinuating that women hold a deep connection to nature while it is the male demigod who stripped it away. Not to mention, Te Fiti was depicted as coming back to life when adorned with full locks of greenery and colorful flowers on her head relating to the expectations of femininity with beauty, the flowers being nature’s beauty.

Circling back to the West Lake Landfill, let’s analyze this from an ecofeminist perspective. Corporations that are responsible for dumping the toxic waste as well as the delay in urgency to handle and contain the cleanup of contaminants is evidence that the binary of culture and nature exist. We live in a capitalist culture; it is all about maximizing profit. It was profitable for the Cotter Corporation to dump the uranium at the West Lake Landfill site, so they did.

 Out of sight, out of mind, right? Ecofeminists say no! 

If the binary exists, the disconnect between human and the environment becomes an “…integral component of societal structuring and justification, they will continue to serve as starting points to justify patriarchy” (Hobgood-Oster 2005). The domination of the environment directly intersects with the domination of life as we can see in this case.

There needs to be recognition that it is not simply men that are responsible for all oppression, but rather the androcentric perspective that holds male superiority at the center of society, marginalizing both femininity and nature together. 

Deliberately dumping toxic waste asserts human control over the land and in turn marginalizes the community at the center of this. West Lake Landfill is situated in a suburb of St. Louis, which has one of the poorest zip codes making this area an appealing dumping ground as community residents hold less authority to stand up against major corporations. This becomes known as environmental racism, institutional racism that connects the oppression of the environment with issues of race and class (Hobgood-Oster 2005). 

As women hold the responsibility of support and care for their families, mothers in the St. Louis community felt most impacted by the effects of the

Image via Just Moms STL Facebook

illegal dumping. Children are getting cancer at elevated rates leading to mothers having to face chronic stress and health implications. The mothers in the community have created an activist group, Just Moms STL, where they demand answers and bring awareness to the issues impacting themselves and the community. 

This is where environmentalism and feminism intersect. There is demand to clean up the contaminated land and calls for the voices of women in the community to be heard.

Now back to the question that this blog started with, it happened so many years ago so it doesn’t affect us today, why does it matter? It’s not happening in my neighborhood so I’m safe.

Well… it DOES matter, and it IS, and CAN happen in our own neighborhoods. 

Image via EPA

Practices and policies that structure our society are shaped by capitalism and patriarchy. And as far as toxic dumping, this happens in several locations across the nation! While severity ranges, there are Superfund sites everywhere. Take a look at the map to see where your state stands.

Now to leave you on a positive note, we can make a change! Bring statistics to local policy makers, create awareness groups, and educate the community. As Hobgood-Oster closes her piece with a powerful quote, 

“Things will not just happen…Women must do something” (Gaard, ed.,3).