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Woman, Nature, Feminism

  • Historically “woman” has been connected to “nature,” “as woman is to nature, man is to culture.”
  • In the nineteenth century (and into the 20th and perhaps still today) this mindframe or ideology was used to keep women in their place – as nurturers, mothers, in the home. The mindframe still lingers: nature is called “she,”  we say mother earth
  • Many feminists have wanted to embrace the woman/earth connection – seeing it as powerful and positive.
  • But feminists also critique simple binary oppositions that are used to justify differential treatment and oppression.
    • man/woman
    • culture/nature
    • rational/emotional
    • active/passive
  • Read Rethinking Eco-feminism by Isy Moisy, Savage Journal, 2018
  • Read Black Feminist Ecological Thought: A Manifesto by Chelsea Mikael Frazier


  • Makes connections between oppression of nature and oppression of women.
  • Makes visible and critiques ideologies that:
    • treat women and the earth as possessions to be exploited, used up, thrown away
    • understand the world in terms of strict hierarchies and divisions
    • see capitalism and competition as a “natural state”
  • Focuses instead on
    • diversity – of peoples, of plants and animals
    • connection between humans and non humans
    • co-operation, symbiosis
    • sustainable living for humans only possible with sustainable living for non humans
  • Eco-feminists range from

Mad Max: Fury Road some questions

  • What are the pros of using a mass/popular culture franchise to discuss environmental themes?
  • What are the cons of using a mass/popular culture franchise to discuss environmental themes?
  • Are there contradictions in Mad Max Fury Road?

Mad Max: Fury Road and eco-feminism

  • spawned a new feminist movie test – The Furiosa Test – here is the original  Bechdel Test
  • contains a explication/visualization of patriarchy: women, war-boys, and poor all exploited/controlled by the men at the top (literally at the top)
  • pits violence/patriarchy/death against non-violence/co-operation and life/seeds
    • although they fight, the women also resist killing
  • explicit dialog, e.g. guns called anti-seeds, war-boy asked “who killed the world?”
  • visual metaphor of everyone hurtling down road using up gas, even the older women who can be read as the environmentalists
  • metaphor of the women turning around i.e. not continuing down same road to destruction
  • post-apocalyptic but not hopeless – in these days of pandemic what do you think about apocalyptic media? Does this context change your opinion?
  • contradictory (?) messages:
    • anarchic glory of the war-boys and their customized vehicles, we can enjoy this even if we condemn what they stand for
    • SM overtones of Joe and his war party i.e. bearded accountant in suit with holes cut to reveal nipple rings – suggestion that we export domination and control from the real world to play?

Mass Media and Environmentalism

  • What kinds of emotional registers do we find in mass media works that deal with the environment.
    • Hope? Fear? Doom? Mockery? Death-wish? Shock? Awe?
  • How effective are ecological messages in Mass Media?
  • What are some other contemporary metaphors about our environment? How do they work?

Hope – As the corona virus rumbles on, there is a lot of a negative and frightening news. As something of an antidote, please listen to this podcast. Trusting in Abundance: The Native Seed Podcast, August 10, 2018. It’s about a hour long.