The culture of patriarchal dominance is very much alive in modern society. It pervades all aspects of society, from the private realm to the personal realm. Feminism is often regarded as the anti-thesis of the patriarchy, which has been anthropomorphized into a villainous system that actively oppresses. Feminist thought pinpoints the structural oppression and indignities within society; the main argument rests upon the notion that society and its mechanisms are constructs. As with any other school of thought, Feminism has its various proponents who advocate different dimension of feminist thought; ecofeminism is one such dimension.
As the name suggests, ecofeminism is deeply rooted in both feminism and ecology. The underlying postulation of ecofeminism supposes that the destruction of nature is linked with the oppression of women and other marginalized groups. Whether it does so intentionally or not, ecofeminism portrays the environment as a marginalized entity that suffers from anthropocentric injustice. As the name suggests, anthropocentrism refers to the interests of the anthropos, or the human animal. This viewpoint puts value solely on humans and the interests of humanity, thus conveniently devaluing all other interests. Further, ecofeminism aims to deconstruct the traditional patriarchal, world-view, of which anthropocentrism is a part, in favor of a more inclusive model.
The rejection of anthropocentrism by ecofeminism leads to an embracing of biocentrism, which elevates the natural environment to a level of human concern. Ecofeminism does not distinguish between the subjugation of the environment and women; both are regarded as equally problematic. Parallels are drawn between the environment and other traditionally marginalized groups, most often women. The anthropocentric concerns of traditionally feminism are also critiqued and regarded as a direct effect of patriarchal authority.
The subjugation of nature and women are not regarded as coincidental, rather, it is treated as a positive correlation. Most often, this correlation is defined as a complex web of historical, symbolic and political factors. Historically, the subjugation of women and the environment has been widely accepted and has been deemed as an unalterable reality. This historical domination has many roots; one of them being symbolic; women and nature are often portrayed as untenable and irrational. Further, the patriarchal nature of society is regarded as rational, desirable and progressive, thus giving it free reign to dominate. This symbolism has spread this venomous ideology throughout time and space, thus universalizing the harmful dominant structures of and anthropocentric patriarchy.
The veracity of these claims aside, ecofeminism presents itself as a constructive theory; it aims to dismantle presuppositions about the world. Where ecofeminism falters however, is connecting its theoretical orientations with the real world. Between theoretical jargon and a constructivist approach, there is often little space for ecofeminism to enter the practical world. There is no real discussion on why the ecofeminism is important; the discussion already presumes that it is important and should be treated as such. With these suppositions, the disconnect between theory and practice is intensified and thus, regales the theory solely in the world of academia.
Why ecofeminism is important is a multifaceted question. The destruction of the environment affects women and other marginalized groups not just in urban areas but in rural areas as well. As any Marxist would insist, both the environment and workers are commodified for profit by the well to-do minority. The destruction of the environment means that rural women have to walk further for water, work harder to grow their crops and feed their families. It means that young children will be forced out of school in order to earn to ensure the survival of their families. The correlation is glaring, the worse the plight of the environment, the worse the plight of those who are directly dependent on the environment for sustenance.
The earth needs ecofeminism because it is not enough to focus solely on feminist issues or environmental issues; a more holistic worldview is crucial. It is a fact that we cannot survive without the environment; our lives depend upon ecological cooperation, something that we have taken for granted. Ecofeminism reminds us of our dependency and clouts the human ego that we all seem to share. It reminds us that nature and marginalized humans are worthy of respect and are not to be used solely for our needs, as anthropocentrism suggests. There is no room for the oppression that defines patriarchy only for parity and consideration.
Despite these optimistic notions of equality and freedom from oppression, it is a sad reality that change will take time. Ecofeminism is not a bandage that can cover the wounds that we have inflicted upon the earth. It cannot wash away years of patriarchal tyranny and systemic abuse. What is can do however, is provide a new way of looking at the world. It can provide solutions of deeply embedded issues that we consider the norm. If we can transcend what we consider our reality, we may, in fact, be able to move towards a new world order and prevent the destruction of our planet as well as our own.