One thing I love about feminism is that it emphasizes the interconnectivity of individuals through its focus on intersectional social justice. Because we as feminists recognize that we are part of something larger than ourselves, it would be ludicrous to only focus on one particular problem that plagues society. Now, eco-feminism takes the intersectional way of thinking to the next level. Eco-feminism emphasizes how important it is that we work for the well being of the natural world that we are a part of.
Eco-feminism proposes that there is a direct link between women and nature. Women are exploited and damaged by patriarchal forces, as nature is exploited and damaged by humans. Women are often seen as the more “natural” sex because of their ability to create life. Some even say that the menstrual cycle of a woman puts her more in sync with the natural rhythm of the world. It’s theorized that because women are perhaps more in touch with nature, women have the capacity to care for it more.
The interconnectivity of humans and the natural world is a subject that is often brought up with great urgency by the environmentalist movement, with good reason, as earth is our home. Eco-feminists say that this should be a topic of particular concern for feminists because of both the intersectional nature of the movement and the unique way that women are connected with nature.
I was reminded of the eco-feminist way of thinking as I began a beach vacation. I walked along the ocean for the first time in more than a decade and swam in the ocean for the very first time. I was struck by how profound an experience it was. I was reminded of the vastness of our universe and the smallness of myself. I was reminded of these facts in the best possible way.
As I walked along the ocean, letting the waves break around my ankles, I thought of the evolutionary theory that life originated from the ocean. Our world and our very being were born from the womb of the sea. In both literature and film, the ocean is used as a symbol of birth and rebirth. Characters often must travel to the ocean (the birthplace of life) to discover something crucial about life or themselves in order to being life anew. I also thought of the words of the astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
He often speaks of the theory that the very first cells from which life grew originated on the planet Mars. Tyson expresses his love for this theory because it means that “We are all stardust.” What a beautiful thought.
So, for the sake of a poetic view of life, we can merge these two scientific theories together in a very eco-feminist way. If our natural lives have grown out of both interstellar material and the great womb of the ocean, we are so much more interconnected than we can ever truly realize. As I swam in the ocean for the very first time and looked up at the sky, I could see a sliver of the moon as the waves were pushing my body. I was at the very center of life.
As I walked out of the ocean, I could see my footsteps in the sand disappearing as the waves hit the Earth over and over. I was leaving my mark on this planet and it was almost instantaneously disappearing. We are all such a small, small fragment of this infinite universe. Yet the smallest of us still leaves a mark, for however short a time, and then is repossessed into the great womb of the ocean, back to where we came from.
We are all part of a life cycle that is so expansive, we cannot even fathom it. In the midst of all the chaos of our world, in the midst of all the laws that we don’t agree with, all the trials that we care about, all the people we want to help, we must remember that it is all part of a bigger picture, a universal picture that we all play a part in. Sometimes, no matter your thoughts on green activism, we must take to heart an Eco-feminist ethic and surrender ourselves to the ocean.
We are all stardust, indeed.
Written by Abigail Sorensen