The Jolly Green Feminist

The Jolly Green Feminist

For all those aware that burying your head in the sand just won’t cut it, climate change is fast becoming a very real challenge that needs to be grappled with. Like much of the population I’ve started carting around canvas bags for shopping, buying recycled bog roll and asking for tap water at restaurants. But, although we are told that with combined effort these small deeds will have a much greater effect, sometimes these government ad endorsed actions feel like a drop in the ocean. I felt I needed to learn more about other things I could do, so I set off for Climate Camp for some much needed education.

Climate Camps have been springing up globally for a couple of years now, their aim being to gather close to a major carbon emitter (say, a power station or airport) and to discuss and demonstrate ways to create a carbon-neutral society. This in itself can be seen as a protest against the site they pick to camp at, but the (usually week-long) camps tend to lead up to some sort of direct action against the polluting pest. This years UK Climate Camp, at Kingsnorth power station in Kent, was said by the climate campers to be ‘a place for anyone who wants to take action on climate change; for anyone who’s fed up with empty government rhetoric and corporate spin; for anyone who’s worried that the small steps they’re taking aren’t enough to match the scale of the problem; and for anyone who’s worried about our future and wants to do something about it.’ “Sounds like me”, I thought. Then again, this description is starting to become a representation of most of the British public, and not just Swampy stereotype hippies.

Climate Camp 2008 was set up at Kingsnorth to protest plans to build the first new coal fired power station the UK will have seen in 30 years and which, if built, will rule out the UK’s ability to stop catastrophic climate change. I’m a bit too much of a scaredy cat and therefore had no plans to get involved in any of the direst action against the station. Still, I was looking forward to a bit of learning in the form of the camp workshops. And it was the workshop on Eco-Feminism that particularly caught my eye.

I’m a feminist – that much should be obvious to anyone reading this site. I am also a person concerned about the future of our world as we know it – but then, who isn’t? The strange thing is that I have never thought to bring these two stances together. Sure, I’ve written about how harmful, in so many ways, it can be to constantly consume fashion. But I would never have thought to admit that I might be writing from an Eco-Feminist stance. This is probably because the term, for me,  used to conjure up images of women praising the moon in pagan type ceremonies. Where this came from, I’m not sure, but I have a feeling Absolutely Fabulous, or some other sit-com from my youth, had something to do with it. Still, presumptions are there to be proven wrong and for a while now I have been coming to see that Eco-Feminism isn’t all ‘Mother Earth’ mysticism and in fact can be an incredibly practical model for dealing with things.

Eco-Feminism as a movement is a rather modern phenomenon (the term itself was coined in as late as 1974 by Françoise d’Eaubonne), but it could be argued that the alignment of environmentalism and feminism is as old as the earth itself. However, as we move closer and closer towards climate chaos the movement will need to become much stronger if it is to secure a safe future for future generations of women. I was alerted to an Oxfam campaign, via a post on ‘The F Word’, called ‘Sisters On The Planet’. As Oxfam say on the site; “As obvious as it sounds, climate change affects everybody. But climate change is already having a disproportionate impact on people in developing countries, and it’s hitting women hardest.” Although this is a harsh fact, and we know that inequality is very much alive and kicking, it can still be hard to see why this might be the case. This is what the campaign aims to tackle, presenting 4 short films that show the lives of 4 women who are working hard in a battle against climate change. As Oxfam explains; “It’s actually fairly simple. Climate change is hitting women in the poorest countries hardest by exacerbating inequalities that already exist.”

The Eco-Feminism workshop at Climate Camp was a real eye opener. Attendees were encouraged to envision both worst and best case scenarios for future generations of women. There was a great sense of hope, however, with everyone making plans to ensure that our most positive dreams come true. I’ve already written quite extensively about the workshop itself so, if you want to find out more, please take a look at my article on the Amelia’s Magazine blog.

Whilst I still may not define myself as an Eco-Feminist, I am glad I took steps to educate myself in this area and look forward to learning more in the future. It’s so easy, in a position of privilege in a developed country, to get bogged down in the (relatively) minor calamities that present themselves to us. Eco-Feminist theory help us to see the bigger picture, and to realise that our actions have an effect on our sisters around the planet. It’s so important to bear this in mind, now more than ever.

And, just for fun, you can see how much of an Eco-Feminist you are by taking this quiz!

By: Sarah Barnes, 25.08.2008 | Comments (0)
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