As I watch Emma Watson in the news discussing her HeForShe campaign to encourage men across the world to show their support of equal rights and opportunities for everyone as a part of feminist movement, I can’t help but notice the similarities between feminism and environmentalism. The feminist movement is and has always been about combating oppression.
The feminist movement started with what is called the “first wave” of feminism with a call for voting rights in order to make men and women politically equal. Since then the important issues have progressed (from voting rights to financial inequalities to reproductive rights, etc.), but the driving force behind the movement has not changed: the push towards equality. Throughout history, feminism has also encompassed and encouraged the drive for equality for other oppressed groups including the civil rights movement and LGBT rights.
So how does the environment fit in? It doesn’t really seem to be in any of the categories I mentioned previously because it is not made up of a group of people, but it is similar in the way that it is indeed oppressed and unfairly treated by humans as a whole. And although it is made up of living creatures and plant species and we do not give them the same moral status as people, the natural environment and everything it contains is vital to human life on this planet.
Unfortunately for us, the oppression and abuse of the environment and all of the resources it contains that allow us to live the lives that we do will eventually end up greatly affecting us as humans. The intensive monocropping and fertilizing practices of modern day farmers is destroying the very land we depend on for food. Both overfishing and ocean acidification are destroying marine biodiversity and already affecting coastal businesses. Extreme deforestation contributes to climate change, as the decimated trees are no longer able to absorb greenhouse gases or keep the soil healthy and moist, since the sun dries it out in a clear cut area. These are just a few examples of the devastating oppressive nature of our current global relationship to the environment, and since plant and animal species cannot advocate for themselves, humans must be the drivers of change towards a more healthy and sustainable relationship with the natural environment.