Archive for January, 2012

My Relationship with Nature and Ecofeminism.

What went on in my head when I first heard the word ecofeminism.

One of the many outside markets of Awaka City, Nigeria.

The way I view and interact with nature is greatly influenced by my Igbo herritage. As a child, I was allowed to play in my neighborhood park and explore gardens with limited adult supervision. This was a quintessential characteristic of my early years as it was in my parents’ lives as they grew up in rural and urban Nigeria.  My Catholic faith helped me to understand that the world was nature and everything in it was to be respected. God created the universe and put man and woman on it to teach them to coexists and to take full advantage of its treasures. When I say “to take full advantage,” I do so in a non-exploitative manner. I do believe that certain things in the world are finite and for humans to abuse natural resources and displace creatures of all types in the name of capitalism will eventually turn around and bite society in the arse. My faith and consequent spirituality, caused me to be interested in this course. 

This is a photo of my cousins playing n our family   counpound in the Delta reigion of Nigeria.       

 

When I read the word “Ecofeminism,” the image that came to mind was one of women holding picket signs in fluorescent colors, that read, “Save the Earth! She is Our Mother.”

As blunt and desensitized as that sounds, the message is simple. We have one earth. I think when one sits down and thinks about the black abyss in which the earth resides, and how it is suspended in millions of miles of nothing, does one then realize that humans are merely ants in the scheme of the universe. We are born, live our lives, form relationships, contribute to society, then die–all in a matter of decades. Decades that are (if you ask me) pretty insignificant against the life of the earth. It has been this way before I was born and it’ll be that way after I die. The combination of my spirituality which is fostered by my Igbo background has made and  kept me humble to the world. Even my middle name, Onyinyechukwu (Oh-ni-ney-choo-kwoo), which means God’s gift, reminds me that everything on earth is ephemeral. Nothing lasts forever and anything can easily be taken away.  Because of this, I don’t fret over things I can’t have and I don’t aspire to look a certain way (though most of my friends might say I do). I am this way because I know that one day will be my last day on earth. So, instead of striving to obtain more than what I need (and of course I’m biased to my own opinion), I’ve made it my goal to work to be happy (within reason) in whatever ways I can.

 

I really connected with Andy Smith’s piece, “Ecofeminism through and Anticolonial Framework.” As a Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies and Biochemistry double-major, colonization, transculturation, and creolization are topics that are essential in discussion of the former. Aside from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean have experienced the longest and most forceful European relationship. When colonization efforts began in the early 16th century, indigenous civilizations were displaced and obliterated by the presence of the Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch; once again, in the name of capitalism. Particularly, the sugar production of sugar as a cash crop. This dynamic has racialized the institution of slavery and has left an indelible mark on race relations in these regions. So when Smith maintains that ecofeminism must also be viewed in an anticolonial lens, she speaks not only for Native Americans in the United States, but for indigenous and African populations [in the Southern Americas] as well. Just as feminism is a European construct, so too is colonization. My understanding of the two is directly linked in by the environment and how it is used to create profit and  social hierarchies. One of these hierarchies is that of gender.    

 

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Ecofeminism: First impressions from a future ecologist.

Last Wednesday, I was sitting in the Underground reading about how overpopulation is apparently not the source of poverty in developing countries and that the real culprit is colonization. And the entire time I’m just thinking, I wonder if anyone had calculated the carrying capacity of their ecosystem?

Hello I’m Kristina and I’m a biology major. (This is the part where you say Hi Kristina.) This is how I felt while doing the reading for this class last week. I did not think that taking Ecofeminism as a biology major would be difficult. It had “eco” in the name, which reminded me of ecology, an area I am very familiar with. It sounded cool, something I would like. However, I didn’t not expect to be tested by the material the way I was last week.  I couldn’t help but feel frustrated the entire time I was reading. I wanted more information, I wanted data and facts. In the biology department, we don’t talk about human issues or starvation in developing countries very often, but when it does come up the tone is usually the same. The culprit? “Overpopulation of course. Those people are starving because they have exceeded their carrying capacity and they need to have fewer babies to get their population back in control.” I had never considered the reason to be anything else. After all, I spent the last few years researching overpopulation of white tailed deer. I know what happens when a species has no natural predator. Or at least I thought I did.

Jesse's Wolf Form Pictures, Images and Photos
Last night I was talking to my friend online and she told me how sad she was that her boyfriend had hit a deer while driving home from work. My response was “Good, they’re overpopulated and destroying the forest.” But if you stood in front of me with a kid from a third world country and said, “He’s starving to death because there isn’t enough food for him.” I doubt I’d reply “Here, let me run him over with my car. His death will give the others a chance for more food and reduce human impact of the environment.”

In Ecofeminism through an Anticolonial Framework Andy Smith said “Saving people should be just as important as saving trees.” I find this quote slightly comical since it implies her reader base value animal/plant life over human life, while in my experience I’ve found it’s usually the opposite. Usually I’m the one defending animals. Saying that all life is sacred and that animal/plant life is just as valuable as human life if not more so because of all the trouble humans cause for everything else. It was funny to see the situation reversed.

One of the points that Smith makes is that humans are animals and therefore a part of nature. So if people believe in saving nature they should also believe in saving humans. I agree with this to a point. I do believe that humans are animals and because of that everything humans create in nature. I think that the more humans try to distance themselves from animals, the worse we become. But I also think that people use the “humans are animals” argument only when it is convenient for them.

Isn’t it in the nature of animals groups to oppress each other? A few days ago I was watching an episode of Planet Earth in which a family group of chimps attacked another family and ran them off their territory so they didn’t have to compete with them for resources. The attacking group even caught, killed, and ate several of the other groups young. You may be disgusted by this, but remember evolutionarily Chimps are one of our closest relatives. So if humans are animals, should we not expect this behavior and consider it “natural”? Then how much of our behavior is natural and should be expected? Then where do we draw the line and say, no that behavior has gone too far and is no longer natural and expected? Humans are animals. But owning that means that we need to accept all the traits that make us animals, and not just bring it up when we can use it for the sake of an argument, but then take it back when someone does something barbaric.

Am I biased? Probably. My weakness is my failure to be absolute. Ethical relativism is the idea that morality changes based on the situation. If you feel that killing one animal is more horrible than killing another, that is relativism based on the situation of the animal. (For example, my mother thinks that all cute animals like bunnies should never be killed but scary animals like spiders should get squished.)  I feel that it is one the biggest issues in society today. I shouldn’t feel different about the termination of different species. If humans and deer are both just animals, and we are willing to kill a deer and justify it by saying they’re damaging their environment, we should be willing to do the same for a human. The opposite is true as well.

The issue arises when humans are perceived as “better” than animals. As if we are somehow worth more because we are more evolved than them, smarter than them. Because we are a keystone species we feel entitled to rule over “lesser” animals and in some cases even “lesser” people.

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The thing is, I love animals. I would do virtually anything to protect them. But the idea that many people fail to grasp is that it’s not about saving one individual endangered bat. It’s about balance. The worth of the species as a whole outweighs the worth of the individual. This applies to humans too. If allowing some to die to make life better for the rest is what needs to be done, shouldn’t we do it? Or do we blind ourselves with compassion and try to save everyone and doom us to strip the world of all its resources? If we agree that the world is overpopulated (not necessarily everywhere but in some places), do we stop researching cures for new certain diseases and accept that our apex predator is now a mutation called cancer? Do we stop resuscitating people with heart disease if they are over a certain age? And justify it by thinking, well if there is one less person, then there is one less life draining resources? I don’t have answers to these questions. They are just questions that need to be asked.

 

 

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Pocahontas, The O.E (Original Ecofeminist)

While understanding the environment, nature and gender, I think of a delicate yet tenacious system which functions as a platform sustaining all forms of life; and the word Ecofeminism.  In class, we have discussed how Ecofeminism came to term, what it stands for, and how the oppressions of nature and women are connected.  After each student spoke and the class began to mold an idea of how to define  ecofeminism, I kept reverting back to one thought, and it was Pocahontas…  Maybe it was because of the essay Ecofeminism through an Anticolonial Framework, by Andy Smith, that helped bridge the connection between Ecofeminism to Pocahontas, or Disney Movies made a larger impression in my thought process then I had originally anticipated. Whatever the reason may be, the first step to seeing Pocahontas as an Ecofeminist is by breaking down the movie since you last watched it, and for most that was during childhood.  The plot itself represents an ecofeministic struggle, Capitan John Smith and the British settlers of the Virginia Company embark on a voyage to the “New World” with one thing on their mind, exploiting its natural resources in search for gold.  Enter Pocahontas, young Native American woman who is about to be wed to Kocoum, who is just all wrong for the spiritual and eco-friendly protagonist.  The two fall in love, and through her spiritual connection to the earth and respect for both human and nonhuman lives, war is avoided with minimal casualties on both sides.

If you’re still not convinced, the second step to looking at Pocahontas as an ecofeminist is by listening to the song “Colors of the Wind”.  Although the song lacks some feminist ideals, the lyrics, “You think you own whatever land you land on, the earth is just a dead thing that you can claim… Come roll in all the riches all around you, and for once, never wonder what they’re worth” embrace a major part of how I have come to understand ecofeminism.  The song points out many of the flaws in our world today, how we as Americans have lost sight of how important the environment is.  Although the movie demonstrates a very watered down example of oppression, it is apparent to me now that the world needs more people like Pocahontas, connected to the earth spiritually with the idea that all walks of life need to be protected.

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Lego’s Newest Character “Stephanie” is Causing an Uproar

As I signed up for ‘Ecofeminism: Justice, Ecology, and Gender’ I did not know what exactly I was signing up for.  In the past I have taken classes about gender studies and ecology alike, but never a feminism or “ecofeminism” class (truth be told I did not know what the term meant).  Coming into the first day of classes this semester, I had a preconceived notion that feminists were groups of women that set to ban certain things that they deemed offensive, inappropriate, etc.  After the first week of classes, I have a better understanding of what ecofeminism means but there are still some questions that I have.  For example, earlier in the month of January a professor at Colby College led a protest against Lego’s newest marketing campaign Lego Friends, that supposedly “promoted stereotypes”.  In the article, groups around the country including SPARK (“a national organization against the sexualization of girls and women in the media”) have protested Lego’s newest product, as the characters are “taller, thinner, and bustier” who can “work on their tans” and ride a “cool convertible” (sounds a lot like Barbie to me).

"The "girly" behavior depicted by the pastel-clad characters has infuriated activists"

Although this may just be me being a guy, but I don’t find this new Lego character to be that offensive.  I feel like the people at Lego are doing a great job to market their products to all kinds of children, boys and girls alike.  If people are getting upset at Lego Friends and their newest products, why not bring into question the pressure of Barbie and its affect on sexualization of girls and women in the media.  To me it seems like Lego is trying to emulate Barbie with their newest Lego Friends campaign.  I do not think that activist groups such as SPARK have the right make Lego take their product off the shelf just because it may convey some stereotypes; I feel like it is the role of parents/guardians to censor their kids how they please.  In summary, I am mostly confused as to what the role of feminists are in society today and how their roles differ from ecofeminists’ roles in society; how do each groups go about achieving their goals?

What is the difference between these two marketing campigns and why is Lego's product under more scrutiny than Barbies'?

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A Missed Connection

I was born and raised on a non-working farm in southern Virginia, but was given no information or education about the environment. Growing up, my idea of the environment was similar to that of which is portrayed in a Subaru commercial about a daring adventure into a scenic back path that is actually right around the corner from my house. This was until I took an environmental science class my senior year of high school, however. After watching several movies and reading my text book, I realized how little I really knew. Even Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was a completely new concept that I had heard nothing about. The subject matter interested me greatly, however, and combined with my interest in women and gender studies, this Ecofeminism class seems right up my ally. An interesting idea that perhaps did not hit me until the first day of class, is that the environment still seems like a separate entity from my everyday life. The only time I really interact with the outdoors and nature is when I am walking in between classes or looking out my dorm window. I also tend to think of issues such as global warming and oil leaks in the ocean as far away problems that do not affect my everyday life. My biases lie around these issues because I expect other people to take care of them, or worry about them for me because that is there interest and not necessarily mine. Our recent reading of “Blue Collar Women & Toxic-Waste Protest: The Process of Politicization” by Celene Kraus struck a few chords with me in respect to my biases, because it spoke directly of bridging that gap between the political world of policy creation and government and women’s every day lives. Kraus suggests that women’s traditional roles as “hysterical housewives” (Kraus 112) and emotional beings actually gives our sex a leg up in grass roots work against toxic-waste because it creates a direct connection between our lives and the environment (Kraus 112-113). By acknowledging that “the traditional role of mother as protector of the family can empower blue-collar activists” (Kraus 113) the toxic-waste movement and the field of ecofeminism can cast a wide net in terms of followers and will be able to achieve a sense of identifiability that will include people like me. It seems to me that ecofeminism is a cause that grapples with identifiable, concrete issues that affect humans in their every day lives, making it easier to connect to the cause and act out against it. I’m hoping that after doing several readings for this class, I will become familiar with enough facts about the environment and its issues to marry it with my feminist views and again make that connection between the two subjects.

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Unpacking My Bag

 

In high school I was given the occasional nickname of “nature girl” from my friends. I’m not too sure how that came about, or even what it truly meant, but my interests in the environment and feminism started developing together around the same time.

In my senior year of high school I was fortunate enough to convince my school to let me take a Women and Gender Studies course at a community college in addition to developing and self-teaching myself an Environmental Science course in lieu of traditional curriculum. My WGST course was taught by a badass male who loved Alice Paul and happened to be a former army sergeant and nurse. He provided an amazingly different perspective than I expected and for that I am forever grateful. My self identified feminism grew from that class but today I still find myself sometimes struggling to relate to many women around me.

At Dickinson, seeing a course titled “Ecofeminism” seemed like a natural combination of these two areas that both interested me. Of course, as I am beginning my exploration of the topic, I am realizing than ecofeminism is more than just two movements combined; it is in fact a it’s own way of thought. I am still trying to figure out how my own self-developed ideals fit into the ecofeminist framework. For example, I am a vegetarian, but I was not led to that path through the animal liberation movement and I do not much identify with it. Additionally, Dorcerta E. Taylor in Women of Color, Environmental Justice, and Ecofeminism says “Spirituality is an important part of ecofeminism.” While I enjoy signing along to Dar Williams’ The Christians and the Pagans, I have no attachment to any religion or spiritual belief and so far I have trouble seeing how it is an important component of ecofeminism.

Although this semester is still young, there are topics brought up in our readings that have already resonated with my past experiences and current thoughts. I was born and raised in the most densely populated and developed area in the nation, yet I still felt that I had access to an immense amount of nature. Growing up surrounded by horse farms, parks, and highways in Central New Jersey provided a wide variety of both natural and built environments that shaped my outlook. But I’m beginning to realize I never knew how terrible things actually are beneath the surface. I was surprised/ horrified to see the town I was born in referenced in Celene Krauss’ Blue-Collar Women and Toxic-Waste Protests. “…in South Brunswick, New Jersey, local officials argued that living with pollution was ‘the price of a better way of life'”. I know my Grandmother as a young woman payed a price by working many hours in the world’s largest snuff factory, most likely contributing to her developing lung cancer later in life. Like many of the workers mentioned by Krauss, she had few options beyond sacrificing her health for her work.

Helmetta Snuff Factory

This inspired me to do more research on the environment I grew up in. I began with pollution and air quality, topics also being discussed in my Foundations of Environmental Science course taught by Professor Howard. Being in the New York City metro area, the results were not surprising, but not optimistic either. With this environmental atrocity at home, I can see why so many women feel outraged and called to action. I am looking forward to the challenges to my thought and beliefs that are awaiting in the future of this course and the future of the environment around me.

 Peace Out,
Amber McGarvey
All photos courtesy of myself

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Ecofeminism Unpacked

How do you understand your environment, nature, and gender?

The way that I understand my environment, nature and gender is fairly linked when I reflect who I am today. I identify as someone who really enjoys the environment, nature and going hiking.  The way that I have understood the environment better has been a process of immersing myself into the environment since I was a young child. I grew up in a family that adored hiking, being in the wilderness and spending vacations going camping. I became attached to the environment around me by exploring unknown paths and finding species that lived in the terrain. I used nature as a form of escape where all my worries and problems were forgotten.  The nature that fills my life makes me feel very complete in a way that cleanses my body with all my concerns. I identify as a woman and it is something that is very important to my identity however hiking is a hobby that many people associate with being masculine. The understanding of my environment and nature has helped me understand my gender. I still associate myself with masculine activities such as hiking and exploring the mountains however, I still identify as a women.

 

What major texts, resources or ideas are key to this understanding?

The way that allowed me to really understand my relationship with the environment, nature and gender grew from experience of spending time in nature. I think the more I spent hiking, wondering the woods and sitting in a kayak watching the world unfold in front of me allowed me to really understand myself more comfortably. I became more attached to the environment around me wanting to protect the naked trees that were displayed untouched my human corruption towards the environment.

What assumptions, preferences and biases can you identify?

There are many assumptions about the environment  and nature becuase it has been associated as mother nature.  It has a feminine characteristic of nurturing thus one can argue that it regulates the climate and allows the flowers to blossom. Flowers have been associated as a characteristic referring to women because it is beautiful however one must take care of that flower or else it will die. That means that being femininity requires lots of work and is only appreciated for its appearance of being pretty. I think that I can agree with the point that being in nature makes me feel more in touch with mother nature however, it does not make me feel more feminine. I understand that there are activities that I surround myself with such as hiking and kayaking while feeling the urge to climb trees and rocks that one associates with masculine. I think that while someone has characteristics of one gender, one can still identify with the opposite. Gender is not a black and white picture that some may want to create because in reality, gender is a social construction. However, from this social construction of gender, one can identify more towards one gender than the other while others don’t identify as either gender. My immersion into the environment and nature has allowed to paint a picture of my identity as a women however I have different characteristics that allow me to feel slightly connected to being masculine in another way.

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Environment, Nature, and Gender… and Me.

Some people argue that in our post-industrial society, we have become separated from nature. I don’t have a source for an academic critique in that vein- it’s simply an idea I picked up at some point. Regardless, I think that it is true… at least as far as I’m concerned. I can see this stemming primarily from my gender socialization.

I think gender is inextricably linked with how humans perceive ourselves and the environment, as well as the relationship therein. The way we think about the environment is inherently gendered. Our society is inundated with cultural messages ascribing certain roles to both genders. When we talk about gender roles, we talk about how men are gendered as strong and aggressive while women are passive, weak, and receptive. We can see this reflected in our exercise in our first class. Many of the words associated with men had to do with physical power, while those having to do with women were often related to attractiveness and beauty. Embedded in our conception of feminine beauty is a system that sets up someone else as the observer, and the woman as the object of desire. In our exercise we also noticed a tendency to relate women to nature and men to culture. This is meaningful because it highlights a crucial aspect of how we gender our relation to nature.

We can already see that the feminine, passive gender role is connected to nature and the environment. This begs the question of who or what possesses the active role if nature is receptive? In a word: men. The word “mankind” perfectly exemplifies the way we equate humans with men only. In our class exercise, we can see that men are supposedly the arbiters of culture. The actions of the human race are largely seen to be driven by men. We gender humans in general as masculine and nature as feminine. We can see examples of this in popular culture:

Yeah, I went there.

 

Seriously. Crysta is a woman (female fairy??) with the humans cutting down the forest and Hexxus (the Spirit of Destruction who thrives on pollution, and is voiced by Tim Curry to boot) all being male. And aggressive. And destructive… You get the point.

Bizarre ’90s Australian-American films aside, the implications are troubling. Feminism has long analyzed violence against and objectification of women. If we consider the fact that we think similarly about the environment and women and compare that to our record of relations with nature and the environment, we can see many parallels. If we have subordinated the environment to an object to be used and abused by our whims, it’s no wonder we have a troubled relationship with our planet! I think that we need to own up to our gendered and harmful ideas about the environment if we are to begin to change our actions.

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Eco-what?

I have to start by being brutally honest. Prior to enrolling in my current Ecofeminism class, I had never encountered the term “ecofeminism.” What on earth was “ecofeminism” I thought. The ambiguity of the term was one of the main reasons I eventually decided to take the class and although I am nowhere close to understanding the complexities of the movement, it has caused me to ask myself questions I had never thought of before. As a woman, what is my opinion on gender and the way it’s molded in our society? Have there been times in my life when I have felt “oppressed” by either men or culture? Did I buy that there is a direct link between women and the environment? How much do I actually care for the empowerment of women and the well-being of our environment?

Although I can’t say that I have concrete answers for any of the questions above, I do know that the issues they raise are connected to my life, especially as a Hispanic American woman. Living as a “minority” in this country, I have experienced that hierarchies still control our everyday lives, and that there are many inequalities within our society, whether transparent or not. Throughout my life I have experienced that at times, being woman, especially a Hispanic woman, does put me at certain disadvantages in comparison to Caucasian women, let alone to Caucasian men. As a senior in college with graduation looming around the corner, the pressure of finding employment and transitioning into the “real world” is daunting.  Not only is it scary to think that we will all soon be competing for jobs in this unpromising economic situation but that as a woman, I might not be considered as a serious candidate next to my male peers. According to a report issued by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, even though the “Gender Wage Gap” has decreased significantly in the last six decades, the ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly earnings in 2010 was approximately 81%. This means that even if I do find employment after graduation, I may not be paid as much as a male peer pursuing the same field. I wouldn’t call myself a feminist, but to me, there is something inherently wrong with that fact.

Graph showing the Gender Wage Gap from the Institute for Women's Policy Research

Now, the other component to Ecofeminism is the injustices done to the environment, which is argued to be oppressed by culture in similar ways that men dominate women. When considering my views about nature and the environment, I realized that I associate with this aspect of the movement much less. Yes, I do recycle, but the main reason for my separation from the environment comes from growing up and still living in New York City. Although I will always argue that NYC is the best city in the world, analyzing it through ecofeminist lens made me realize that it encompasses many aspects that ecofeminists are against.

My friend and I enjoying a Summer night in Times Square, New York City.

As a New Yorker, I have to admit that I have been soaked into the fast-paced culture of the city, controlled by technology and constant consumption. I had to ask myself: am I wrong for participating in this “cosmopolitan” lifestyle? Was I thus supporting forms of oppression to the environment and to my own gender?

As I begin to wrestle with these issues, there is one component of Ecofeminism that I struggle with the most. In Andy Smith’s piece, “Ecofeminism through an Anticolonial Framework,” she begins by quoting Karen J. Warren’s idea that, “All feminists must also oppose any isms of domination that are maintained and justified by that logic of domination.” According to Warren and Smith, ecofeminists should not only be concerned with the oppression of women and nature but with all forms of oppression. While I understand this argument, it highlights one of the movement’s biggest issues that we discussed in our last class, that of Inclusion v. Exclusion. If what Warren and Smith argue is valid, is there any hierarchy or injustice that would not be included in the ecofeminist critique? Furthermore, if ecofeminists choose to stand against all forms of oppression is the name “ecofeminism” now inaccurate? It looks like for now, I am only left with even more questions to ponder.

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Aristotle, what were you thinking, man?

I have never thought to identify myself as a ‘feminist’ or ‘lover of the environment’, but I think this is mostly due to a lack of reflection. As a naturally reflective individual, it comes as a surprise that I haven’t given these labels more thought. Although it depends on the way one defines ‘feminist’, I fit at least one variation of the definition. I attended the Bryn Mawr School from the time I was twelve years old until graduation. It is a school in Baltimore, Maryland founded in 1885 by five women in an effort to provide young girls and women with a learning environment at least as stimulating as the plethora of highly competitive and academically challenging all-boys schools of the time. Growing up in that environment, gender equality was not a controversial topic. Everyone who was a part of the school was there because she or he shared these same values. I was proud of our school’s history, and proud to be a part of its present, but it was not a stance that I was ever placed in the position to defend.

For all of my years at Bryn Mawr, I learned from a very passionate faculty. In high school, I took an environmental science course. As a result of the class and a few other experiences, I had a somewhat extended stint as a vegan, but my current diet is unlabeled and based on a more informed understanding of environmental and animal treatment issues. It’s not a coincidence that the majority of my friends are environmental science majors. I try to stay informed and surround myself with people who I can learn from and with. I strive to make the environment a priority in my everyday life and as I noted, I have had the opportunity to study about the environment in an academic setting. I can’t say the same in terms of feminism. I have never pursued the topic academically. Strange given my background? I think that it might have something to do with the fact that I am so in love with my major, and as a result I’m not inclined to give up my time very easily to other disciplines. But when I had the chance to choose a philosophical article to critique in one of my classes last year, I chose one from the Canadian Journal of Philosophy (*our library subscribes to a bunch of great philosophical journals*) on the philosophy of feminism. I really enjoyed the process of writing that paper and thinking about particular issues surrounding the feminist movement. I don’t think very much about gender issues in my classes, but there is one experience that stands out in my mind. I remember reading Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics in a class last year, and reaching the section in which Aristotle states the proper place for women. Being physically inferior to men, their role in society is to stay in the home, bearing and raising children, pleasing their husbands and being generally obedient to men; they should not be educated as men. I did not believe it. Excuse me, Aristotle, I thought we were friends. I remember looking around the classroom, and noticing that I was one of very few girls. Ultimately it was a good thing, because it reinforced the fact that putting anyone or any idea on a pedestal is not a productive practice, and that one should always be critical. Already, I have found this to be true with regard to the feminist movement. Putting it on a pedestal doesn’t allow an individual proper space to realize what internal problems exist there; if she doesn’t realize the problems, there is no way to correct them and eventually create a more effective movement. Jordan’s comment in class regarding the historically imperialistic background of ecofeminism definitely struck me as important. Along the same lines, I was surprised to learn that “many native people sense that feminists struggle to make a better life for themselves at the expense of Native people” (Warren, 25). Andy Smith’s entire article, Ecofeminsim through an Anticolonial Framework, was very enlightening. It just seems obviously contradictory to the movement’s philosophy on a few levels, the most basic one concerning the fact that women are obviously a part of the Native American population.

In that philosophy class, the greatest surprise for me was that a philosopher who appeared so rational and intelligent could hold such a view of women. These surprises are everywhere. It doesn’t mean that we should consider everything that Aristotle has provided us with as worthless, just as the feminist movement should not be disregarded completely by the Native Americans or those who are aware of this flaw in the movement. We should take what is considered to be the standard and test it against our critical minds; what is created as a result, will be progress.

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