By Megan Byrom - HSPS Student @ Queens' College, Cambridge
Rising sea levels, mass extinction, flooding, heatwaves and drought: the Anthropocene, to many scientists, has already begun, and the race to resolve, mitigate and ease climate change has too.
But how we begin to resolve such a universal and colossal global problem is contentious. From business tycoons arguing for capitalist innovation and trusting the power of technology to arrive at a conclusion, to international organisations like the UN promoting sustainable development goals and different climate treaties and protocols like the Paris Agreement, these different frameworks work to rush and find some solution to understanding and reversing climate change.
However, is ecofeminism the framework we have been lacking in climate discourse? Ecofeminism is a branch of feminist theory that considers the ways in which the oppression of women and degradation of nature are inextricably linked. Arising in the later 20th century, the theory manifested amongst protest groups globally, rom the Chipko movement in India to waves of anti-militarism in the US. Popularised later by Ynestra King, eco-feminist issues were heightened by rapid globalisation, industrialism and neoliberal projects across the world.
The eco-feminist theory is not conclusive. Earlier essentialist theories discussed the emotional connection between women and nature, arguing that gendered visions of ‘mother earth’, and women as caregivers explain the relationship between the two, as women are aligned with nature and not capitalist male culture. Later ecofeminism refused this essentialist view of gender and nature, moving away from spiritual ideas to focus on the material reality both women and nature face. This material reality, they argued, connected nature and women as exploited resources, abused in a capitalist system. In this women are seen as animals, subjects and reproductive bodies much like nature.