Updated: Jul 15
The Women’s March made an impression on everyone, but not without some important critiques. The success of the march set the precedent for the Science March, Peoples Climate March, and any other future collective efforts. However, one important question lingered as the crowds dissipated: was the mainstream feminist movement finally ready to treat the perspectives and experiences of womyn of differing races, sexes, and classes with the same gravity of those as their counterparts—and what does this mean for environmentalist movements whom have been historically female driven?
For the past 60 years, women have comprised some of the most powerful voices within the environmentalist movement. Consider Rachel Carson and her influential book Silent Spring, the Chipko movement ,Vandana Shiva’s and Wangari Maathai’s decades of advocacy— and more recently, Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx, Dakota Access Sacred Stone Campground founder and water protector LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, and local favorites Julia Butterfly Hill, Judi Bari, and Alicia Littletree Bales. EPIC has its own series of powerful women such as our co-founder Cecilia Lanman, and long time attorney Sharon Duggan.
Feminism is universally understood as a movement for women (but men can be feminists too!). Unfortunately, that often means that the needs and wants of privileged cis (people whose gender identity matches assigned sex) white ladies get addressed, and the experiences and voices of trans womyn, indigenous womyn, womyn of color, poor womyn, and womyn with disabilities is often ignored. In comparison, female driven environmentalist movements are predominately rooted in ecofeminist theories, which incorporate a wide range of intersectional concerns for all identifying women—including trans and non-gender conforming experiences.
Historically, marginalized groups have been on the front lines of extreme weather due to climate change—like the thousands of displaced families after Hurricane Katrina and the earthquakes in Haiti. Underdeveloped or low-income agriculture communities are more likely to be subject to unlawful work conditions, and are typically the first to interact with toxins and harmful pesticides— communities like Kettlmen, CA, where toxins in water runoff and water pollution caused a swarm of birth effects and miscarriages. People of color have been discriminated in legal systems making it more difficult to combat poor water quality or air pollution—like the water crisis in Flint Michigan. However, despite these difficulties, these communities are also the ones who are doing the most work to mitigate the consequences of environmental harm.
Applying ecofeminism is the blending of biocentric and anthropocentric concerns. For example, when discussing the harmful effects of the LNG pipeline along the Klamath River, don’t just think of the effects of the ecosystem and the fisheries—dig deeper and consider the communities who live close to the river, such as the various native communities like The Karuk and Yurok Tribes—and then dig even deeper and consider how polluted water negatively impacts their health and cultural traditions.