An Update: My Experience in Putting Veganism into Praxis

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It has been a little over a week since I implemented my plan to pursue veganism and I am pleased to say it has been a success. Beginning this action having come from a lifelong construct of animal product consumption, it is without hesitation to say that the shift was not an easy one at first. There were several moments in which I would have to think of what ingredients I could use to create recipes while staying true to the incorporation of vegan products. Especially in the grocery stores as I walked in what felt like aisles of empty shelves committed to the ethical obligation of valuing the lives of non-human animals. It became evident firsthand that the society in which we are living is filled with narratives of how humans must eat, we have become acclimated to exploitative cultural standards. We have been consumed in a culture of human superiority as it is more convenient and affordable to find animal products in some variation than it is to find the ingredients needed to make a meal committed to the value of life. I began to look at products more closely and was drawn especially to the numerous visuals of anthropornography. It began to solidify the aspect of the personal is political each day I committed to my philosophy.

Image via @aveganfeminist Instagram

If I were to use one word to describe the experience, it would be empowering. Not only was I able to stick to an action that was a personal ethical responsibility, but it established a closer connection to the natural world that is far too often taken for granted. Preparing my own meals made this process successful as when others are making decisions for you, choice is not necessarily as easy. Vegan recipe websites and shopping lists became my go-to when planning out my daily meals. I even tried out a meal subscription service that had vegan options which was helpful in the meal preparation process. I found myself eating a lot more plant-based foods rather than reaching for any animal flesh that sat abused in the grocery store refrigerated shelves. I made shifts from products with animal derivatives such as butter, milk, honey, and cheese to vegan options that are not the first reached for on the shelves because they were often hidden and priced much higher, a cultural product of capitalism. Some of the vegan products I purchased included Daiya vegan cheese,  Miyoko‘s organic vegan butter, Lärabars, Banza chickpea pasta, Oatly oat milk, and many fruits, vegetables, and nuts. I was able to consume foods that were delicious and aligned with my philosophy while broadening my perspective that there are options, society just hides them from us.

Screenshot via Vegan Calculator

Some of the most trying times were convincing my family and friends to eat the vegan foods I had prepared, which was immediately followed with stigma. Society has constructed veganism to be some abnormal non-human thing to believe and practice; a paradox considering the consumption of non-human animals is the disconnect from the natural world that must be acknowledged. As I progressed through the week, I stood committed and kept track of my activism through the vegan calculator which uplifted my empowerment. Included is a screenshot of my own calculated “saving” of the natural world including animal lives and other natural resources tied to the consumption of non-human animals with the hopes to encourage others to take part in this action as well. To further include you, the reader in my activism, I thought it would be helpful to record some of the meal and snack choices I prepared throughout the week with clickable links to recipes for you to try!

Sauteed Vegetables
 Acai Bowls
Vegan Mac and Cheese







Vegan White Bean & Kale Soup
Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup







Each meal brought a closer commitment to incorporating non-human animals into the moral community of life. As I eliminated animal flesh out of my diet, I was able to connect that my small participation in a larger movement of animal liberation made a difference in saving the unnecessary violence against life that is not ours to exploit. It was in these moments that I felt the words of Barbara Kingslover in which the hominid agenda continues to drive us farther from our connection with the land and the lives it holds but rather, with careful and considerate steps in valuing all lives rather than the one held to superiority under patriarchy, we are able to understand our place in the world. I was able to further recognize that consumption of meat has been commodified under capitalism to produce the narrative that those willing to participate in so-called culture will be granted acceptance as if profiting off the subjugation of non-human animals and women is justified in our world. It was through my own mindful choices of consumption that I was able to apply the theory of vegetarian ecofeminism connecting the oppression of non-human animals to that of women in a society where speciesism and sexism intersect in favoring that of the male-centered privilege. As I walked through the aisles of the grocery stores the labels for the first time began to jump out at me with language of patriarchy. The non-human animal sexualized and feminized, the women on the face of plastic packaging animalized waiting to be consumed at the hands of consumerism. The woman-nature association became evident, we are life living in a world that profits off the oppression caused by patriarchy. 

Image via @plantpoweredbae Instagram

As each piece of evidence caught my eye, aisle by aisle, it became clear this was a rhetorical strategy used by corporations to construct a speciesist and sexist perspective to the consumer with virtually no trace of accountability. While I had pursued my own personal form of activism in veganism, I decided to use my own ability in something I was able to do in dedicating a section of my project to present these narratives in one of my other courses focusing on the embodied rhetoric of several facets of identity. In this, I was able to use my knowledge and theoretical belief to inform those around me about ways we can become aware of the connection between oppression of non-human animals and women in food rhetoric while empowering to produce change in our own communities. As Deane Curtin highlights, there is a contextual framework to vegetarian ecofeminism. As individuals living in a nation where the choice of nutrition is available, it is important to understand the consumption of meat is not only an act of oppression towards non-human animals but also oppression towards women and those of least developed countries; thus, the awareness to others is not only informing about ethical obligation, but too acknowledging the context of cultural location.

As I reflect on my experience with this praxis project, I am grateful for the opportunity to put belief into practice. I will take this experience and continue to practice this activism beyond the course as I wish to uphold the words of Greta Gaard, “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” (2001). I hope my own experience will empower others to have sympathy for lives not our own. Small actions such as eliminating the consumption of animal flesh and products not only allows one to commit to personal action that is attainable, but it empowers those around us to do the same inching closer towards recognizing the interconnectedness we have with nature while striving towards the end of oppression under patriarchy.

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Putting Belief Into Praxis: Vegan Activism

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As I reflect on the various topics of gender and environment connected issues we have covered this semester, I am greatly drawn to vegetarian ecofeminism. Having grown up in a culture that constructed meat eating as “normal,” it had rarely crossed my naïve mind how oppressive these actions are to the lives of non-human animals. As I read through the work of Gaard, Curtin, and Eisenberg, I became astonished at the connection between meat eating and the oppression of women and non-human animals. It made me think about my own contribution to this very exploitation that our society deems acceptable to fit into cultural scripts of gender performativity. 

Why are we taking part in violence against life that is not our own? 

Why is it that we follow the desires of patriarchy in establishing superiority between species? 

Society capitalizes off the narratives created by food industries and for this reason we have lost the connection held between all forms of life including that of the natural environment. It is with this that I will take on a personal activist action that diminishes exploitation of non-human animals. As you are reading this post, I have begun the first step in putting my theoretical viewpoint into action. Although this project asks us to set a timeframe to implement our proposals, I wish to continue this activism beyond the concluding update. 

Image by Amy Gorin

To understand the extent of my activism, I will begin eliminating any animal flesh and animal products from my diet. Veganism is defined as a plant-based diet avoiding all animal foods such as meat, dairy, eggs, and honey as well as any other animal byproducts. I plan on consuming a diet centered around foods such as beans, legumes, fruits, and grains just to name a few. To the left is a small example list of plant-based foods taken from a vegan nutrition website which I plan on utilizing to help me with preparing meals over the next week. I will also use a vegan calculator to track the amount of animal lives I saved as well as other natural resources that are degraded in connection to animal consumption.

For me, this is much more than following an outlined regimen, it is the incorporation of political views and personal ethics into my actions. I am brought back to Gaard’s words in which she calls on our ethical responsibility in recognizing the non-human animal as our extended families; taking part in animal consumption is not only exploitation towards the non-human animal but also adherence to patriarchy in which works to subjugate those disadvantaged by man. In addition to veganism in my own practice, I wish to take this activism to the classroom in another one of my courses which focuses on rhetoric in our society. This will look like a set of proposed social media posts which connect the marketing rhetoric of meat to patriarchal notions of hegemonic masculinity informing others of the avoidable exploitation of non-human animals and its connection to the oppression of women.

With the combination of personal actions in my own life as well as awareness to those around me, I hope to apply the importance of the vegetarian ecofeminist theoretical perspective in ways that can make a larger impact in the community. Societal ideologies continue to embed that the self is what matters as power and profit are the leading aspirations of life, but in following this, oppression continues to ripple across those who fall below advantaged identities. For me, vegetarian ecofeminism is more than terminating the consumption of non-human animals, it is the ethical obligation to object to the commands of patriarchy and sympathize with the treatment of the non-human animals’ life as our own.

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The Power of Women in Activism

Empowered women empower women. 

Image via American Greetings

These are three powerful words that are often the mantra of feminists advocating for change. Although rippled through modern movements of feminism, history shows us, women have taken the stance as active agents in the fight to combat the oppression of the natural world connected so deeply to their own livelihood far before the empowerment shown at the forefront of the media today. Environmentalism movements led by women occur across the globe –most notably amongst those living in the Global South– as the egocentric degradation of land threatens their ability to access the very natural resources that nourish their souls. As individuals living in the Global North, we tend to overlook the privilege we have. We do not think about the labor one does to gather water for drinking, food for eating, wood for fueling, or the uneasiness in wondering if the next rainstorm or mass deforestation project will destroy the very land in which fosters our well-being. 

I begin with this reflection for us to understand the power in women being activists in feminist environmentalism. The oppression of nature is linked to the oppression of women as the motive behind ecological degradation is to maintain capitalistic power, to favor profit over life. When one destroys the life of the land, they are taking resources with it. When one pollutes the land, they are contaminating the bodies of those in contact with it. The livelihood of women does not cross the androcentric mind; rather, power and control must remain intact. 

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Women of the Chipko movement stood in embrace of the trees that sourced their livelihood. Those at the political hands of power threatened the life of land and women as the leaves of the trees were converted to money as if life was invisible to the male gaze. The area that once produced the wood needed to make tools and provide fuel, the life that sourced photosynthesis and the air to breath, and the roots to keep the soil fertile and intact was now naked to the eyes of the androcentric mind. They say, why let a land filled with trees go to waste when companies that can generate profit for the region can utilize the space? Women fight back by saying ecology is their economy but their word is against the power of those who hold precedence in a patriarchal society. So what does one do when their word is against that of man? Women speak for the land and their life in taking action as they embrace the trunks exposed to the exploitation of man. A movement that has generated pressure in the political sector to notice the destruction of life in actions of ignorance. 

Image by Diego Nigro/JC Imagem 

The women and children of the Brazilian slums are faced with food insecurity and economic burden as they must rummage through the garbage consuming the canals that once sustained life and nature’s beauty. Picking up can after can, hoping one day they can generate enough wealth to break them free from the debilitating life in the slums ignored by those at the top with enough wealth and power to provide for all those pleading for recognition and support. It is not until pictures of children living amongst the degradation of the land surface the media that power feels the need to speak only to take action for those pictured while the land and all remaining life is left to swim in the garbage of capitalism. Again, women are facing direct disrespect to land as they are left to care for their children while the resources needed to live are washed away. 

Image via Life of Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai of the Green Belt Movement gathered women in the distribution of seedlings to encourage planting belts of green across the lands that have been taken from them. No longer will the soil be harmed by the effects of erosion but instead acres of trees will provide the shade, oxygen and lumber that the women who work the lands have been pleading for. As women begin to fight for the resources that sustain their life, those in authority are threatened with the words of patriarchy; women do not have a voice and neither do they behave with command. Rather than falling to the weight of subjugation, women began to develop techniques that they knew would place power and fortune into their own hands. The provision of seeds led by the movement empowered women as it was a simple task, achievable, and witnessed each day as the growth of trees flourished right before their presence. It was not aid from the government but rather their own hands that improved the quality of life for their community. As I read the story of these women who were disadvantaged in a society that favors privilege, I cannot help but think of the willpower and strength they had to watch their environment degrade, hear authority berate their value, and yet develop strategies of activism to empower each other to take matters into their own hands. This very courage was not simply an action, but rather a necessity in preserving the life of the land tied so closely to their own existence. Behind the material deprivations there are deeper issues of disempowerment as power works to interrogate, criminalize, and silence their voice in the name of patriarchy. There are deeper issues of capitalism in environmental degradation as the resources being diminished did not alter the life of the privileged but rather commodified the embodied experience of the vulnerable. 

Image by Jamie Malcolm-Brown via CulturalSurvival

As we listen to the voices of indigenous communities, behind the cultural loss is movement to end diversity, to instill white supremacy. As corporations come to take over the land, they do not care to understand how profiting off the land will impact the livelihood of indigenous communities. They care about the dollar signs rather than the deep connection between land, body, mind, and soul. Indigenous women who experience the consequences of environmental degradation most intensely speak of the land as extended family, the dislocation of communities from the land will not be a temporary adjustment, it is a life-long loss of identity and culture. It is not just exploitation of the land but exploitation of the women’s body. As mining projects move in, violence, pregnancy, disease, and deprivation come along with them. As the land is raped of its resources, as are the women of indigenous communities, objectified by the hands of power.

Image via Prolific The Rapper YouTube

Prolific The Rapper x A Tribe Called Red use music to express the violence against the land in connection to the livelihood of indigenous communities. The power of the lyrics translates emotion into the ears of listeners as we hear calls of recognition and action rather than empty promises. The provision of jobs and stimulation of the economy will not protect the land from degradation. It will not honor the sacredness of the natural world to that of the soul. Projects of exploitation fail to recognize that the land is not ours to take, it works to disconnect human life from that of all other living entities. While the media works to paint an entirely different message, the protests held by indigenous peoples are a peaceful act of activism hoping to create change while the violent acts of capitalism and patriarchy are left unspoken. 

Image by Paul Horn via Inside Climate News

As I read about the Standing Rock Sioux protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, I am brought to current events of the recently approved Willow Project. The $8 billion drilling project is set to occur closest to the town of Nuiqsut, home to Alaska Native populations. The construction of the land will impact subsistence activities such as fishing and hunting which increases food security amongst the community. The project is also set to increase exposure to air and water pollution threatening the health of Indigenous peoples, a contract that they did not sign. Reading about yet another project rooted in profit and power is truly disheartening as the exploitation of the vulnerable and eradication of natural resources is left to be forgotten. It is evidence that an intersectional framework is lacking in our legislature. Decisions are made with a blind lens to those that are disadvantaged in society in attempts to keep those in power in that very place. Superiority continues to be rooted in disempowerment and deprivation as we forget to remember that the land is a source of life. The disconnect does not only oppress the land, but also women who are connected in the provision of sustaining life. 

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Ivona Gebara provides an alternative perspective in applying faith to activism as she highlights, while the discussion of theories is occurring, so is the destruction of life. While social and environmental movements to end the oppression may bring recognition to problems, it will not work to solve the problems of patriarchy. There is no equality present in the social construction of hierarchy and she connects this to the cultural product of theology. Christian theology is rooted in the hegemonic ideals of androcentrism. Power is in the hands of men who have knowledge making perspectives–such as ecofeminism–a deviance from the expected. Gebara calls for a world in which the poor and marginalized are given the equal opportunity to live in peace through the rehabilitation of the utopian perspective rebuilt on justice. However, what is important to note is that she does not discredit spiritual values to that of material realities; rather, she wishes to diminish the structure of patriarchy that has worked to shape lives as it works to rank the value of life instead of honoring the importance of egalitarian relationships between man, woman, and all other forms of life. 

Image by @allwecansave via Instagram

As I reflect on the movements of activism discussed above, it is evident that political reshaping of social structure is needed. History continues to repeat itself as the hands of power continue to fall disproportionately to men. This ignores the connection of ecological degradation to that of the oppression of women as profit and control continue to take the reins. Women are essentialized into a single category when attempts of action are made ignoring the intersection of identities that occur globally. It is not until we honor that women are at the forefront of environmental exploitation, that we hear the voices of those marginalized, that we elect women in representation, that we will see a world that destroys the hierarchy and values all life as their own.

The Interconnected Web of Ecofeminism and Its Intersectional Approach

I begin this blog by asking you to think about your own identity. Think about the categories of gender, race, class, sexuality, religion, age, ethnicity, and ability and where you would align yourself. Now think, are you one without the other? Does one aspect of your identity take over one half of your body and the other the remaining? Or does each aspect of your identity simultaneously make up, you?

I ask you to reflect on this as we work to understand the interconnectedness of the ecofeminist perspective. Rather than understanding this theoretical framework to be a hierarchy of oppression, we must understand its relation to intersectionality as oppression is not felt singularly but rather multidimensionally. 

Image adapted from Kathryn Pauly Morgan

Take a look at the image included to your right. Splicing the circular figure in half is the line of domination. Above domination represents the categories of identity deemed “superior” in societal context; along the lines are the “isms” in which those with privilege enact when perpetuating discrimination towards those outside of their identity. Below domination is the social categories in which oppression is felt most intensely. However, what is most important to note in this image is not the hierarchical aspect of social category but rather, the form of the image. All categories are in a circular shape, connected at a single point in the center. This is what intersectionality is to be understood as, “…a web of entanglement…each spoke of the web representing a continuum of different types of social categorization such as gender, sexuality, race, or class, while encircling spirals depict individual identities” (Kings 65). One may identify with multiple lines of the spiral but it is intersectionality that allows experiences of identity to occur simultaneously. 

Image by MarinaRabazova via Pixabay

It is also important to note that all experiences are unique and oppression is felt differently depending on one’s place in society. The intersecting axes of privilege, domination, and oppression show that one may have privilege in one social category, but feel the effects of oppression in another. For example, a black heterosexual man may have privilege in the category of gender and sexuality but face marginalization in a society plagued with racism. Therefore, it is crucial to understand this perspective as a web of interconnectedness. As Kings describes, “The spirals collide with each spoke at a different level of the continuum, illustrating the context-specific privilege or discrimination experienced by the individual. A spider’s web preserves the necessary complexity of intersectionality and the potential ‘stickiness’ of cultural categories, which can often leave people stuck between two or more intersecting or conflicting social categories” (65-6). 

When relating intersectionality to the ecofeminist perspective, it is important to understand its historical implications. Hobgood-Oster provides a Western perspective of ecofeminism in which “…oppression of the natural world and of women by patriarchal power structures must be examined together or neither can be confronted fully” (2005). This can be understood to analyze oppression as a hierarchy on the basis of sexism. While true, gender is not the only social category that experiences harmful effects in connection to environmental degradation. 

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We often analyze oppression based on a single category, this creates hierarchical thinking in terms of dominance; however, as Kings states, “Discrimination is not merely about gender or race or class, but rather an intersection of these different social identities which lead to the generation of various locations of vulnerability” (82). When applying intersectionality in an ecofeminist perspective, exploitation of the environment is viewed in connection to the oppression of women through an interconnected web as subjugation is not felt the same across populations as identity is diverse. 

Leah Thomas touches upon the importance in understanding the difference between ecofeminism and intersectional environmentalism as although both understand the degradation of the environment to be in connection with deeply rooted societal problems, “…Intersectional Environmentalism considers all aspects of someone’s identity like race, culture, religion, gender, sexuality, wealth, and more” making it more inclusive (2020).

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Taking a flashback to our previous sections, I correlate this closely to the work of Bina Agarwal in which focuses on a non-Western perspective of ecofeminism, feminist environmentalism. Agarwal expresses not only the link between women and nature in social context, but also through material realities as the connection between women and the environment is “…structured by a given gender and class (/caste/race) organization of production, reproduction, and distribution” (127). This works to relate ecofeminism to intersectionality as an analytical tool that recognizes the connection between oppression of the environment and the oppression of women is not biologically determined or based solely on the category of sex but rather, the differing aspects of one’s identity works interconnectedly to shape the experience of oppression faced. For example, a rural woman living in India is more likely to experience oppression of the environment closely due to the disadvantages of social identity as the dependence on the environment is linked to survival. 

In this, we can use intersectionality as a tool to better understand the effects of degradation in varying communities and how to become activists in feminist environmentalism. Kings writes intersectional theory is important to recognize “…unequal experiences, not just between the North and South, but also within these very broad and non-homogenous categorizations…” (73). Western perspectives of ecofeminism can mistakenly focus on oppression of women as a whole rather than breaking down the varying social identities within this group of individuals. It is for this reason that intersecting oppressions prevent the elimination of other forms of oppression. Afterall, we are in an interconnected web. Working to abolish sexism will not solve the problems of patriarchal society as identities are simultaneously interacting to shape our experience. It is not until we eliminate each “ism” in the web that we will have a society free of exploitation. 

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Rachel Carson provides insight into the ecological importance of the ecofeminist interconnected perspective in her piece, Undersea. Carson takes the reader on a journey of life throughout the numerous layers of the ocean often forgotten in the disconnection between human and non-human life. She writes that we must “shed our human perceptions of length and breadth and time and place, and enter vicariously into the universe of all-pervading water” (Carson 63). That is, we must rid ourselves of the “superior species” perception and rather place ourselves in a world of diverse life that is often forgotten even though we share the same environment. In this piece, the ecological web of life is celebrated in its diversity as each living thing in the “place of paradoxes” (64) contributes to the well-being of another form of life. Just as intersectionality is important to recognize the various identities of human life oppressed by exploitation of the dominant, this ecofeminist perspective of interconnectedness is important in ecology as “Individual elements are lost to view, only to reappear again and again in different incarnations in a kind of material immortality” (Carson 67). If we continue to treat life as a hierarchy, ignoring the multiple layers of oppression connected in one’s identity, then we cannot effectively eradicate maltreatment of the natural world and all life forms within it. 

I will leave you with a quote to consider as you go forth in a society that works to isolate and subjugate, “Engaging with intersectionality can help sensitize ourselves and others to the ways in which different forms of disadvantage can act as a method of silencing the most vulnerable and oppressed” (Kings 83).


Works Cited:

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

Carson, Rachel. “Undersea.” Visions for Sustainability , vol. 3, 2015, pp. 62–67., 

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.

Kings, A.E. “Intersectionality and the Changing Face of Ecofeminism.” Ethics and the Environment, vol. 22, no. 1, 2017, pp. 63–87., 

Thomas, Leah. “The Difference between Ecofeminism & Intersectional Environmentalism.” The Good Trade, 11 Aug. 2020,

Women In Politics Are Saving The Environment

There are nearly 334 million people in the United States alone.

There is a sex ratio of 98 males to every 100 females. 

As of 2023, there are 7,383 seats in the legislature, yet only 32.7% of those positions are held by women. 

That is less than half, only a little over a quarter. 

We are in the twenty-first century, yet women are still not elected into at least half of the power making decisions for their nation state, evidence the gender division is still very present and equality is still on the lengthy list of “to-do’s” needed in order for a healthier, happier, and more progressive era in society. 

Consider your own list of things to do, perhaps you should be adding research into the next list of electoral candidates and most importantly, voting. 

Image via Generation Equality

Norgaard and York, authors of “Gender Equality and State Environmentalism” claim, “If women tend to be more environmentally progressive, the inclusion of women as equal members of society–as voters, citizens, policy makers, and social movement participants–should positively influence state behavior” (508).

To further understand this link between gender equality and state environmentalism, let us begin by breaking down the depth of what these terms mean:

Gender equality is to grant equivalent rights and access to opportunities despite gender identification. 

Environmentalism is a political movement that aims to take action in protecting the environment for present and future generations. 

Norgaard and York discuss the correlation between gender equality and environmental policy through women’s active representation. As discussed in previous blog postings, a society run by patriarchal and capitalist ideologies place male centeredness at the heart of all decision making to acclaim power and privilege over those less advantaged. This results in a society plagued by inequality with those less powerful disproportionately experiencing the harmful effects of environmental degradation, specifically women as gendered divisions of labor, land, and other resources have left them “uniquely and disproportionately affected” (Norgaard and York 507). As gender is socially constructed in society, this places women into the social role of caretaker while men are to be the economic money pot of the family.

Imagine you are a woman, responsible for collection of resources that may be scarce, left to live in an area affected by degradation, and devoted to unpaid domestic labor. Any implications of environmental harm will leave you as the first to experience effects as your social role places you in direct contact with the very land and resources that are being exploited. Norgaard and York connect this with the desire for women to become active advocates in environmentalism as their own life is deeply affected just as much as planet life. The greater the gender equality, the more likely nature is to be protected as women are more likely to care for the support of environmental protection due to direct predisposed risks linking sexism and environmental degradation in the simultaneous devaluation of women and nature (Norgaard and York 508). 

Image by Mei Lamison via Achona Online

The negative reinforcing loop of gender inequality and environmental harm is a result of social structure. Humans did not naturally take advantage of land and humans, but rather, the birth of industrialism and modernization gave way to power over egalitarianism as both women and nature became “invisible under capitalism” (Norgaard and York 509). With men taking control over the social and political economy, women were socialized to become domestic providers. With a gender and social divide, women were left to fight for their wealth, health, and protection as harm against the environment meant harm to their own being. 

This is where ecofeminism is essential in understanding “Oppression of the natural world and of women by patriarchal power structures must be examined together or neither can be confronted fully” (Hobgood-Oster 2005). However, although male centered desires are a result of degradation and subjugation, it is important to note that non-Western perspectives of ecofeminism shed light on the health of the environment being in direct connection to women’s survival. Thus, Norgaard and York’s connection between women’s equal political power and environmentalism is crucial when aiming for a positive outlook. 

Let us apply their thesis to some examples:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez & The Green New Deal 

Image by Pete Marovich via New York Times

The Green New Deal, proposed by New York Representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls for the federal government to “…wean the United States from fossil fuels and curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions across the economy” (Friedman 2019). While previous attempts to curb the ever worsening effects of climate change have been in the works, this new movement has stood out with women advocates voicing their concerns as consequences of this environmental degradation are linked to additional social inequalities and racial injustices (Friedman 2019). As both the youngest woman and youngest Latina to ever serve in Congress, her voice was powerful in speaking on behalf of those experiencing social inequalities in communities across the nation. Environmental racism is a significant indicator in deliberate institutional racism that connects the oppression of the environment with issues of race and class (Hobgood-Oster 2005).

Ocasio-Cortez grew up in The Bronx, an environment that experiences the effects of environmental pollution, entangled with gender, race, and class. Her example is just one of many that draw women into key roles in environmental policies. Ocasio-Cortez’s legislation is an example in which “…women both perceive environmental risks as greater and are less willing to impose these risks on others; higher status of women may lead to more environmentally progressive policies as women put their view and values into action” (Norgaard and York 509).  Our capitalist social structure has far given into the degradation of the environment ignoring the detrimental effects to those who aren’t granted power privilege. While greenhouse gasses continue to enter the air we breathe to satisfy the greed of corporation giants, those at the opposite end of social structure value health risks of individuals far more than those pocketing the money at the end of the day. Legislation introduced by women such as the bill proposed by Ocasio-Cortez, provides evidence that women’s voices in government place us closer to positive environmental changes for the better social and physical health of the land and other forms of life. 

Marina Silva & The Amazon 

Image by Gabriela Portilho via New York Times

Marina Silva, a Brazilian environmentalist and politician works to fight against the climate crisis affecting her country as a result of inadequate environmental policies. Appointed as environmental minister, her goals have been to reduce deforestation practices, wildfires, and replace fossil fuel energy with clean energy that will reduce the already exceedingly high carbon footprint (Valencia 2023). During her career, she worked to create 24 million hectares of conservation while doubling natural reserves for traditional indigenous populations who are often most vulnerable amidst environmental degradation (Valencia 2023). As a young girl growing up in the Amazon working on her family farm extracting latex and materials to build their living, she established a deep connection with the land as she recalls it her “economy, identity, and place of fun” (Valencia 2023). As she became an activist and then minister for her country, she aimed her agenda towards the younger generation in hopes to preserve the environment throughout one’s lifetime. 

In a country where women account for 52% of the population yet are only 15% of legislators and 11% of ministers, Silva used her voice in being elected as a women environmental minister to grant change in effectively reducing deforestation and providing social and environmental justice to the reserves of the Amazon region. This is important to note as Norgaard and York state their results “…do not necessarily establish that gender equality has a direct causal influence on state environmentalism” but rather they suggest, “…gender equality and state environmentalism are linked and that an understanding of one may contribute to an understanding of another” (515). Silva is an example that despite being a woman in a country that lacks gender equality and representation, positive change can be made when understanding there is a link between women representation in parliament and environmentalism. 

Image via OECD

Pictured is a chart of statistical data gathered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in which illustrates Norgaard and York’s central thesis in which “…women have more pro-environmental values, are more risk averse, are more likely to participate in social movements, typically suffer disproportionately from environmental degradation, and sexism and environmental degradation can be mutually reinforcing process” (519). Therefore, improving gender equality in political representation will allow an increase in state environmentalism. As described above, 55% of women showed environmental motivation while 30% were environmental skeptics. On the other hand 38% of men showed environmental motivation while 42% were environmental skeptics (OECD 2020). Therefore, with women more environmentally motivated, an increase in political positions will connect to an increase in policies and practices in state environmentalism.

Take a look at the picture to your left. The statistic above tells us that 55% of women show environmental motivation compared to 38% of men. If we place women in positions of authority, elect them in the political arena, and overall grant gender equality in society, then together they can work together across the globe to improve the environment which radiates to the overall well-being of life across the planet. Our choices are not our own, we are all entangled in a web of cause and effect. One determinant decision of environmental harm impacts a community elsewhere. With women motivated and represented, state environmentalism will be supported. 

So, who will you be voting for?

Works Cited:

Friedman, Lisa. “What Is the Green New Deal? A Climate Proposal, Explained.” The New York Times, 21 Feb. 2019, 

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. 

Norgaard, Kari, and Richard York. “Gender Equality and State Environmentalism.” Gender & Society, vol. 19, no. 4, 2005, pp. 506–522., 

OECD. “Gender and Environmental Statistics.” Exploring Available Data and Developing New Evidence, 2020, 

Valencia, Robert. “She Grew up in the Amazon, and Now She’s Fighting for Its Life.” Earthjustice, 6 Jan. 2023,

Understanding the Women-Nature Association through Anthropornography

Have you ever watched a televised advertisement or taken a second glance at a poster meant to sell you some delicious meal? As individuals living in Western society, there appears to be nothing wrong at the surface, but I urge you to think twice before you indulge in the message these corporations are trying to sell you.

Carol J. Adams in her interview with Annie Potts, describes how the sexualization and feminization of animals not only justifies the action of consumption, but also directly connects with the exploitation of women through cultural images that favor male centeredness. This can be described as:

Anthropornography → the presentation of animals, usually those presumed literally consumable, as sexually consumable in a way that upholds the sexual exploitation of women (Adams 14). 

In other words, animals are presented in specified ways to generate capital in the food industry under the presumption that humans and non-human animals are separate species. Therefore, the sexualization and feminization of animals justifies consumption as it is targeted towards masculine consumers while simultaneously overlapping with the exploitation of women as justified consumption of feminized non-human animals implies that women are too in need of male control. 

In order to apply this to our understanding of the women-nature association a select few images from Adams’ Sexual Politics of Meat will be analyzed.

Image #1: A Barbecue Fit For Men

Image via Carol J. Adams Sexual Politics of Meat

Pictured is a trio of smiling men, one holding a set of tongs, all under a pop-up tent adorned with banners that read ‘Meat Club’ while wearing t-shirts stamped with what appears to be a sexy silhouette of  a woman with a bull head asking ‘got meat?’ Here we have our first example of anthropornography in which male dominant sexual economy is present (Adams 14). To be masculine means to eat meat, this explains the ‘meat club’ banner as these men are inviting you to their all inclusive club which includes the violation and sexualization of non-human animals and the exploitation of women, an all-in-one patriarchal package, “an act of self-definition as a privileged (male-identified) human, and it allows all other humans the access to that self-definition, too, as voyeurs and consumers” (Adams 17). Solidarity around meat consumption only reinforces male domination and acceptance in society as the non-human animal is exploited and consumed without consent. 

The shirt sends an additional message, as the non-human animal is feminized and sexualized with the replacing of its body with that of a woman simultaneously with the animalization of women as her head is shaped into that of a bull. To place a bull’s head on the sexualized body of a woman then asking the message of ‘got meat’ while actively cooking meat for consumption is a practice that enforces hegemonic masculinity in which “…reassures and re-establishes human (male-identified) primacy at several levels are hidden or unacknowledged, it never has to expose itself for what it is” (Adams 20). Cultural ideologies teach us to look past this common tendency to exploit the women-nature association while every aspect of visual representation and action continues to be justified. Here men are the consumers while women and non-human animals are the consumed. As Kemmerer states in her review of Adams’ The Pornography of Meat, “…we fail to notice that ‘consumable’ animals are invariably portrayed as feminine, as sexual–available to men, just like female human beings (2006). 

Image #2: The Hanging Objectification

Image via Carol J. Adams Sexual Politics of Meat

This image proposes an abundance of startling messages in the objectification of women and non-human animals. Presented is a portion of raw meat, hanging from a hook that pierces the skin while its body is clothed in feminine attire. The chosen attire to clothe the raw meat in rather what is considered “revealing feminine clothing” works to sexualize the now dead non-human animal, a representation of “misery made sexy” (Adams 15). The message at the bottom of the advertisement reads, “It’s not acceptable to treat a woman like one” and comes from a coalition that stands against domestic violence. The first thing that stands out is the clear connection between nature and women as the ad calls out for men to speak out against violence in order to prevent women from being treated as if they were a dead animal. This functions as “propaganda for speciesism…art that reinscribes the denial of the animal through actively denying/depriving them of life…simultaneously reassures our self-definitions as humans while also affirming human superiority” (Adams 19) as if it is justified to violate the non-human animal dead or alive, the human as consumer while the non-human animal being consumed. 

Adams also touches upon the narrative of raw as “real” in which “raw meat may express a more immediate sense of violation of what once was, what once existed and only recently lost their lives” (14). Using raw meat in awareness of domestic violence might create the perception of what harm violence against the human body can do; however, the connection between non-human animals and humans is absent. Adams speaks of artist privilege in which “…current laws allow artists to manipulate and kill someone else if that someone else is a nonhuman” (18). Because humans are viewed as a superior form of life, cultural images such as this one corrupt mainstream society. 

Image #3: “Racks For Racks”

Image via Carol J. Adams Sexual Politics of Meat

Included in this image is an advertisement for a fundraiser in support of raising proceeds for Breast Cancer sponsored by a barbeque company. What makes money raised for a good cause problematic one may ask? The proof is in the poster. As Breast Cancer is an already sexualized disease in Western society, this flier further adds to the objectification of women as the fundraiser is called “Racks for Racks,” insinuating that the more racks of meat eaten, the more you care about saving women’s breasts connecting masculine meat consumption to the desire for male pleasure by the female body. The presentation of the non-human animal pig produces both the animalization of women and feminization of animals as the pig is pictured to have a female stature, curvy with a large bust, ready for male consumption, anthropornographic evidence. Adams suggests “animalizing women and feminizing animals helps in this process because it renders women and dead animals used as flesh as commodities” (Adams 15). The consumption of non-human animal flesh is being consumed to generate capital in support of a feminized disease and the feminization of the pig for barbecue generates interest as it correlates closely with masculinity. 

The chosen skin tone of the animal is also to be noted as it appears to be that of a white woman. Adams writes of ads appealing to white, heterosexual men as “heterosexual politics are also embedded; the assumption that woman is available as an orifice for men” (16). Society not only enforces the ideal that man must be attracted to woman and vice versa but also that white colonialism must be favored to support that “casting individuals as animalized humans is usually influenced by race, sex, and class…because the race hierarchy is inscribed so strongly in Western culture, a white pig was needed, so that the degradation being represented could be as strongly represented as possible” (Adams 15,17). Not only are women and non-human animals being consumed, but also people of color as the white human male works to gain control over the objectification of vulnerable communities. 

Author’s Selection: Wrap it Up 

Image by Luis Beltran & Giovanni Macco via Bimbo Wraps
Image by Luis Beltran & Giovanni Macco via Bimbo Wraps

Pictured is the advertisement for a bakery corporation’s product, wraps. On one side we have a cow standing with a feminine pose holding its tail with facial features of long lashes, juicy red lips, and purple eyeshadow, all sealed with a wink. On the other side we have a pig also with feminine facial features of rosy cheeks, long lashes, and arched eyebrows while standing in a pose that draws explicit attention to its voluptuous rump. Both animals feminized, sexualized, and draped in a food product made to sell to an audience. This is not an accident but instead anthropornography as non-human animals are depicted as sexualized women, promiscuous and in need of sex calling for men to consume them as if they are in desire to be exploited and violated (Kemmerer 2016). The wrap literally wrapped around them as if tempting for the consumer to take it off and expose the body as if consumption of their product gets you closer to pleasure. The use of non-human animals as a “model” feminizes animals to show that both non-human animals and women are being consumed and oppressed due to male societal dominance.

These are only a select few examples of the many efforts to justify exploitation of women and consumption of non-human animals through sexualization, feminization, and animalization practices in the food marketing industry all with the desire to objectify. Adams describes objectification in the sexual politics of meat to permit an oppressor to view another being as an object which then turns into violation through object-like treatment, fragmentation, brutal dismemberment, and finally consumption (13). Animals are viewed as objects, their life taken away for the human palate. Women are perceived as objects meant to be used in ways that satisfy men. The overlap in cultural images justifies that masculine power is the backbone of society’s structure and in feminizing non-human animals, we justify that meat consumption is just as sexy and valuable as women subjugation.

As each of the images above present, white male privilege is at the center of each message and although solutions to improve societal outlook are possible, “people don’t want to give up their privilege; after all inequality is tasty” (Adams 21). 

Works Cited:

Adams, Carol J. “Examples of the Sexual Politics of Meat.” Carol J. Adams, 2018,

Kemmerer, Lisa. “The Pornography of Meat by Carol Adams.” Philosophy Now, 2006, 

Potts, Annie, and Carol J. Adams. “The Politics of Carol J. Adams.” Antennae, no. 14, 2010, pp. 12–24., Accessed 5 Mar. 2023. 

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).