Abuse against nature exists everywhere in today’s society. Examples include the excessive use and depletion of natural resources, pollution of clean air, land and water, consumer rejection of the biodegradable Sun Chips bag because it was “too loud”, etc. What’s important to realize is that nature can live without humans and the abuse they provide, but humans cannot live without the domination of nature. Humans are nature’s messy and abusive room-mates.
Ecology studies the relationships between living organisms including human groups and their physical and social environments. Feminism is theory and methodology toward the political, economic and social equality of women and men. The term “eco-feminism” studies the relationship between ecology and feminism.
Activists in environmental and feminist movements began to realize in the late 1980s and 1990s that their goals for creating change are not quite so different. The oppression of women and the domination of nature in eco-feminists theories are connected and reinforcing. Eco-feminist Ynestra King said, “Life on earth is an interconnected web, not a hierarchy. There is no natural hierarchy; human hierarchy is projected onto nature and then used to justify social domination.”
The goal of eco-feminists is to erase the hierarchal division of people and their relationship with the earth. Diversity and equality can only exist where all living organisms are considered valued and important. Environmental and feminist movements want to do away with deeply embedded dualisms in the way people interact with each other and the environment. Dualism is bad because it creates binary thinking in which two groups are set in opposition: men vs. women, humans vs. nature, etc. As a result, one group is given the power to dominate the other.
Theorist Judith Plant said, “The ecofeminist's task is one of developing the ability to take the place of the 'other' when considering the consequences of possible actions, and ensuring that we do not forget that we are all part of one another.” Two completely different things, people and nature, when combined can make them both stronger as a team.