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Ecofeminism describes movements and philosophies that link feminism with ecology.[1] The term is believed to have been coined by the French writer Françoise d'Eaubonne in her book, Le Féminisme ou la Mort (1974).[2] Ecofeminism connects the exploitation and domination of women with that of the environment, and argues that there is a connection between women and nature. Ecofeminists believe that this connection is illustrated through the traditionally 'female' values of reciprocity, nurturing and cooperation, which are present both among women and in nature. Additionally, ecofeminists draw connections between menstruation and moon cycles, childbirth and creation etc. Women and nature are also united through their shared history of oppression by a patriarchal Western society.

Vandana Shiva claims that women have a special connection to the environment through their daily interactions and this connection has been ignored. She says that women in subsistence economies who produce "wealth in partnership with nature, have been experts in their own right of holistic and ecological knowledge of nature's processes." However she makes the point that "these alternative modes of knowing, which are oriented to the social benefits and sustenance needs are not recognized by the capitalist reductionist paradigm, because it fails to perceive the interconnectedness of nature, or the connection of women's lives, work and knowledge with the creation of wealth."[3]

Feminist and social ecologist Janet Biehl has criticized ecofeminism for focusing too much on a mystical connection between women and nature and not enough on the actual conditions of women.[4] Rosemary Radford Ruether joins Janet Biehl in critiquing this focus on mysticism over work that focuses on helping women, but argues that spirituality and activism can be combined effectively in ecofeminism.[5]


In Ecofeminism (1993) authors Vandana Shiva, Maria Miescritique and Evan Bondi ponder modern science and its acceptance as a universal and value-free system. Instead, they view the dominant stream of modern science as a projection of Western men's values.[6] The privilege of determining what is considered scientific knowledge has been controlled by men, and for the most part of history restricted to men. Bondi and Miles list example including the medicalization of childbirth and the industrialization of plant reproduction.[6]

Bondi argues that the medicalization of childbirth has marginalized midwife knowledge and changed the natural process of childbirth into a procedure dependent on specialized technologies and appropriated expertise. Similarly, the dependence of agriculture on industrially produced seed and fertilizer makes a natural, regenerative process dependent on technological input.[6]

A common claim within ecofeminist literature is that patriarchal structures justify their dominance through binary opposition, these include but are not limited to: heaven/earth, mind/body, male/female, human/animal, spirit/matter, culture/nature and white/non-white.[7] Oppression is reinforced by assuming truth in these binaries and instilling them as 'marvelous to behold' through religious and scientific constructs.[7]

The application of ecofeminism to animal rights has established vegetarian ecofeminism, which asserts that "omitting the oppression of animals from feminist and ecofeminist analyses […] is inconsistent with the activist and philosophical foundations of both feminism (as a "movement to end all forms of oppression") and ecofeminism."[8] Vegetarian ecofeminism combines sympathy with the analysis of culture and politics to refine a system of ethics and action.[8]


  • Evan Bondi - Influential leader in the feminist movement and self-described "voice of the wilderness and the woman", Bondi advocated the advancement of environmental rights for animals of all gender and was an outspoken writer and cartoonist in the early ecofeminism movement.
  • Françoise d'Eaubonne - Called upon women to lead an ecological revolution in order to save the planet. This entailed revolutionizing gender relations and human relations with the natural world.[2]
  • Sallie McFague - A prominent ecofeminist theologian, McFague uses the metaphor of God's body to represent the universe at large. This metaphor values inclusive, mutualistic and interdependent relations amongst all things.[9]
  • Rosemary Radford Ruether - Has written 36 books and over 600 articles exploring the intersections of feminism, theology, and creation care.[10]
  • Val Plumwood - Val Plumwood, formerly Val Routley, was an Australian ecofeminist intellectual and activist, who was prominent in the development of radical ecosophy from the early 1970s through the remainder of the 20th century. In her works "Feminism and the Mastery of Nature" she describes the relationship of mankind and the environment relating to an eco-feminist ideology.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ MacGregor, Sherilyn (2006). Beyond mothering earth: ecological citizenship and the politics of care. Vancouver: UBC Press. p. 286. ISBN 0-7748-1201-X. 
  2. ^ a b (Merchant, Carolyn. "Chapter 8." In Radical ecology: the search for a livable world. New York: Routledge, 1992. 184)
  3. ^ Shiva, Vandana (1988). Staying alive: women, ecology and development. London: Zed Books. ISBN 978-0-86232-823-8. 
  4. ^ Biehl, Janet (1991). Rethinking eco-feminist politics. Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press. ISBN 978-0-89608-392-9. 
  5. ^ a b Ruether, Rosemary Radford (2003). Heather Eaton & Lois Ann Lorentzen, ed. Ecofeminism and Globalization. Lanham, Boulder, New York, Toronto, Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield. pp. vii – xi. ISBN 0-7425-2697-6. 
  6. ^ a b c (Mies, Maria, and Vandana Shiva. Ecofeminism. Halifax, N.S. : Fernwood Publications; 1993. 24.)
  7. ^ a b (Hobgood-Oster, Laura. "Ecofeminism: Historic and International Evolution." (accessed March 17, 2012) )
  8. ^ a b Gaard, Greta Claire. (2002) Vegetarian ecofeminism: A review essay. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, 23(2). Retrieved from
  9. ^ (Ralte, Lalrinawmi . "The World as the Body of God Ecofeminist Theological Discourse with Special Reference to Tribal Women in India. Www. (accessed March 24, 2012))
  10. ^ LaRosa, Patricia. "Finding Aid for Rosemary Radford Ruether Papers, 1954-2002". Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  11. ^ "Who's Who of Women and the Environment". Retrieved 15 March 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Animals and Women: Feminist Theoretical Explorations, edited by Carol J. Adams and Josephine Donovan
  • Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, Nature, edited by Greta Gaard
  • Ecofeminism: Women, Culture, Nature, edited by Karen J. Warren with editorial assiatnce from Nisvan Erkal
  • EcoFeminism & Globalization: exploring culture, context and religion, edited by Heather Eaton & Lois Ann Lorentzen
  • Ecofeminism and the Sacred, edited by Carol J. Adams
  • The Politics of Women's Spirituality: Essays on the Rise of Spiritual Power within the Feminist Movement, edited by Charlene Spretnak
  • Readings in Ecology and Feminist Theology, edited by Mary Heather MacKinnon and Moni McIntyre
  • Reclaim the Earth, edited by Leonie Caldecott & Stephanie Leland
  • Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism, edited by Irene Diamond and Gloria Feman Orenstein
  • Women Healing Earth: Third World Women on Ecology, Feminism, and Religion, edited by Rosemary Radford Ruether
Journal articles
  • Gaard, Greta Claire. 2011. Ecofeminism Revisited: Rejecting Essentialism and Re-Placing Species in a Material Feminist Environmentalism, Feminist Formations 23(2): 26-53.
  • Huggan, Graham. 2004. "Greening" Postcolonialism: Ecocritical Perspectives, MFS Modern Fiction Studies 50(3):701-733.
  • Mack-Canty, Colleen. 2004. Third-Wave Feminism and the Need to Reweave the Nature/ Culture Duality, NWSA Journal 16(3):154-179.
  • MacGregor, Sherilyn. 2004. From care to citizenship: Calling ecofeminism back to politics, Ethics & the Environment 9(1):56-84.
  • Mallory, Chaone. 2013. Locating Ecofeminism in Encounters with Food and Place, Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics 26(1): 171-189.
  • Wildy, Jade. 2012. The Artistic Progressions of Ecofeminism: The Changing Focus of Women in Environmental Art,International Journal of the Arts in Society 6(1): 53-65.

Also see ecotopian literature and feminist science fiction


  • The Sea of Affliction (1987, reprinted 2010) by Rosemarie Rowley

External links[edit]