Ecofeminism: What Is It And What Positions Does This Current Of Feminism Defend?


Ecofeminism is one of the theoretical and practical currents generated in the 70’s which pays attention to how the economic development of dominant groups has promoted excessive exploitation of nature and how this especially affects women.

It arises from something that many feminist movements question: dualisms, understood as pairs of opposites with unequal value that had originated in patriarchal culture (for example, body-mind, nature-culture, scientific knowledge-traditional knowledge). .

Ecofeminism pays special attention to the relationship between nature, women and capitalist economy ; and from there it allowed the development of different currents within Ecofeminism itself that made visible not only the exploitation of nature and women, but also the differences between the oppression experienced by different women and natures around the world.

Ecological awareness in feminism

The emergence of Ecofeminism was led by feminists who had a strong ecological conscience, and who They denounce that historically the patriarchal system has equated women with nature something that could have been an important position of power for women, but far from that, ended up being devalued and exploited in the capitalist economy.

That is to say: they question the use and exploitation of nature that has been promoted in patriarchal societies and advocate establishing relationships with nature from a more feminine position, closer to the care and protection of living beings.

Among the practices that derive from Ecofeminism are, for example, the promotion of natural childbirth or the extension of breastfeeding; as well as the creation of empowering communities and women’s self-management, especially from countries with the highest poverty rates.

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Some proposals of Ecofeminism

Far from being a homogeneous current, Ecofeminism has developed within itself different proposals that have allowed us to understand some nuances in women’s experiences of subordination and their relationship with nature.

1. Essentialist feminism

Roughly, Essentialist ecofeminism is a current that enhances maternal qualities to promote life and care for nature considering these qualities as important to counteract the ecological crisis.

It is based on a radical essentialism based on biological differentiation, where it says that the fact that men do not have the capacity to procreate makes them depend largely on female care and their energy. He proposes that women need to emancipate ourselves from masculinity, which is fundamentally aggressive, and enhance feminine strength through bonds between ourselves.

The criticism that has been made of this feminism is its excessive biological essentialism, that is, the assumption that men and women are determined and differentiated by our biological characteristics, which tends to demonize the masculine and can keep women in segregation.

2. Spiritualist feminism

Spiritualist feminism questions the development ideal of First World countries because they say that it is a “bad development” that causes injustice and exploitation especially to women and the nature of “undeveloped countries.”

For this reason, this proposal of Ecofeminism is currently one of those that is gaining greater strength in “developing” countries formerly called “the third world.”

Spiritualist feminism considers the patriarchal social structure beyond the purely masculine: it understands patriarchy as a system that, among other things, places in women the management of nutrition, child development and care of the environment in general; issues that are especially exploited in the poorest countries.

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In this current, women’s access to the production of goods is sought by maintaining ourselves as a source of control and balance of the environment and food development. That is, it connects the emancipation of women with ecological awareness and care practices.

3. Environmental feminism

In reaction and criticism of the previous proposals, ecological feminism arises, which notes that Ecofeminism had developed without taking into consideration class differences or ethnic origin that make women’s relationship with nature, as well as the exploitation of the patriarchal system, experienced in different ways.

They propose that this system is not a homogeneous thing that affects all women in the same way, and they focus the complaint not only on the way in which the exploitation of nature affects women in a particular way, but they attribute responsibilities to the groups that monopolize natural resources and the rise of the capitalist economy.