By Josette Combes
Ecofeminism is a movement that originated in the United States in the militant boom of the 1970s with one of the most spectacular ecofeminist actions – the Women’s Pentagon Action – which took place on 17 November 1980 in Arlington, Virginia. This mobilization followed the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster in Pennsylvania on March 28, 1979. Women are opposed to the nuclearization of the world but will be part of any fight against what they consider to be an attack on nature. This philosophical and ecological movement considers that patriarchal capitalism has based its power on the alienation of women, colonised peoples and nature.
In Europe, the movement is taken up mainly in Spain, where ecofeminism is associated with the solidarity economy, which is considered the only way to ensure respect for both ecological and social balances, including equality between women and men. It is not a question of introducing equality at all levels of society but of changing the way “feminine virtues” are viewed and restoring their legitimacy, but above all of transforming role-playing and the economic approach in order to reconsider what is useful for the preservation of nature, including that of the human beings who are part of it.
During the WFSTE, a workshop was devoted to this movement at the invitation of the Compagnie Nanaqui, a theatre company based in the Toulouse region which was organising a festival in March 2020 called “Les Sauvageonnes”, which was cancelled due to Covid 19. The workshop was renewed in September, this time in a place dedicated to alternative cultures. The very rich programme included conferences (including that of RIPESS Europe, Social and Solidarity Economy and Ecofeminism) and artistic performances of all kinds. The festival took place over three days and attracted more than 1500 people, which remains a feat in Covid times. The description of this event can be found here . It was pleasing to note that the participants were not exclusively women and that the average age was more in the thirties, which augurs well for the next generation.
In France, Françoise d’Eaubonne (1920 – 2005) was the first to sound the alarm about the damage perpetrated by the “illimitism” of the capitalist economy. Her thought remained in the minority within the so-called “materialist” feminist movements, which considered her approach as essentialist, i.e. based on the affirmation of a feminine essence opposed to the masculine essence, the former justifying the subordination imposed by the latter. Currently, due to the environmental emergency, ecofeminist thinking is regaining ground thanks to the work of researchers such as Emilie Hache or Catherine Larrère. Ecologist and feminist movements converge, considering that they share the common urgency of overthrowing patriarchal capitalism, whose system of domination endangers the very survival of species, including the human species. Returning to notions of care for the preservation of life, which has always been the so-called feminine domain, is the urgency. It is a complete paradigm shift that does not involve a power grab from above but the construction of a networked resilience as demonstrated by the initiatives led by women’s groups to counter the destruction orchestrated by the capitalist, patriarchal, pyramidal system.
“The values of the feminine, so long flouted, hitherto attributed to the inferior sex, remain the last chance of survival for the man himself. We need to act very quickly, we need mutation even more than revolution”. It is a question of bringing about “the egalitarian management of a world to be reborn”.
It is a programme that we at RIPESS fully share.
Read more: J. Combes, L’écoféminisme, une nouvelle approche de l’émancipation des femmes (Ecofeminism, a new approach to women’s emancipation), RIUESS 2018 – 18th Meeting of the Inter-University Network for Social and Solidarity Economy – Rennes 2019