Ecofeminism: What Is It And What Positions Does This Current Of Feminism Defend?

This current of feminist thought emphasizes the relationship between women and nature.


Ecofeminism is one of the theoretical and practical currents generated in the 70’s, which pays attention to how the economic development of the dominant groups has promoted an excessive exploitation of nature and how this affects women in a special way.

It arises from something that many feminist movements question: dualisms, understood as pairs of opposites with unequal value that had originated in patriarchal culture (for example, body-mind, nature-culture, scientific knowledge-traditional knowledge) .

Ecofeminism pays special attention to the relationship between nature, women and the capitalist economy ; and from there it allows the development of different currents within Ecofeminism itself that made visible not only the exploitation of nature and women, but also the differences between the oppression experienced by different women and natures around the world.

Ecological awareness in feminism

The emergence of Ecofeminism was led by feminists who had a strong ecological conscience, and who denounce that historically the patriarchal system has equated women with nature, which could have been an important position of power for women, but far from That ended up being devalued and exploited in the capitalist economy.

That is to say: they question the use and exploitation of nature that has been promoted in patriarchal societies and advocate establishing relationships with nature from a more feminine position, closer to the care and protection of living beings.

Among the practices derived from Ecofeminism are, for example, the promotion of natural childbirth or the extension of breastfeeding; as well as the creation of empowering communities and the self-management of women, especially from countries with the highest rates of poverty.

Some proposals of Ecofeminism

Far from being a homogeneous current, Ecofeminism has developed within itself different proposals that have allowed us to understand some nuances in the experiences of subordination of women and their relationship with nature.

1. Essentialist feminism

Broadly speaking, essentialist ecofeminism is a current that enhances maternal qualities to promote life and care for nature, considering these qualities as important to counteract the ecological crisis.

Part of a radical essentialism based on biological differentiation, where it says that the fact that men do not have the ability to procreate makes them depend to a great extent on female care and their energy. It proposes that women need to emancipate ourselves from masculinity, which is fundamentally aggressive, and to enhance female strength through links between ourselves.

The criticisms that have been made of this feminism is its excessive biological essentialism, that is, the assumption that men and women are determined and differentiated by our biological characteristics, which tends to demonize the masculine and can keep women in segregation.

2. Spiritualistic feminism

Spiritualist feminism questions the ideal of development of the first world countries, because they say that it is a “bad development” that causes injustice and exploitation especially to women and the nature of “undeveloped countries”.

For this reason, this proposal of Ecofeminism is currently one of those that is gaining strength in the “developing” countries previously called “the third world”.

Spiritualist feminism considers the patriarchal social structure beyond the purely masculine: it understands patriarchy as a system that, among other things, places the management of food, child development and care of the environment in general on women; issues that are especially exploited in the poorest countries.

In this trend, women’s access to the production of goods is sought by maintaining ourselves as a source of control and balance of the environment and food development. That is, it connects the emancipation of women with ecological awareness and care practices.

3. Environmental feminism

In reaction and criticism of the previous proposals, ecologist feminism arises, which makes note that Ecofeminism had developed without taking into consideration the class differences or ethnic origin that make the relationship of women with nature, as well as the exploitation of the patriarchal system, is experienced in different ways.

They propose that said system is not a homogeneous thing that affects all women in the same way, and they put the focus of the complaint not only on the way in which the exploitation of nature affects women in a particular way, but also attributes responsibilities to groups that monopolize natural resources and to the rise of the capitalist economy.

Bibliographic references:

  • Pascual, M. and Herrera, Y. (2010). Ecofeminism, a proposal to rethink the present and build the future. ECOS Bulletin, 10: 1-7
  • Velasco, S. (2009). Sexes, gender and health. Theory and methods for clinical practice and health programs. Minerva Editions: Madrid

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