Not your Earth Mama: Ecological security and the gender-minority myth

A quick skim through the syllabus and my eyes went directly to this week’s topic “Ecological Security and Feminist Environmental Security” as issues of gender have always been consciously tied to those of the earth and environment, I was interested to know more about Floyd and Matthews interpretation of this connection.

As a central concern of Floyd and Matthews composition of texts is the consideration of human-induced environmental impact, it is important to understand which groups of humans and what particular identities they compromise in order to better understand their impact. As such in the case of gender, there are direct ties between vulnerability, and poverty that coincide with environmental damage. as large populations of women live in poverty and are vulnerable due to societal restrictions and gendered violence, these connections are clearly seen. As such women are repeated “cast in roles of Agents, Victims, and saviors” of the environment and often blame and responsibility is given to their connection to ecological security. This victim/perpetuator image not only fails to address the problem but also negates all the strides and advances women and girls have had to in spite of the oppression in their relationship to the environment.

It is a common notion that population growth deemed overwhelmingly negative in an environmental standpoint is blamed on women in “developing nations” and connected directly to the prevalence of women and girls in marginalized communities.  Erroneously “it is the fertility of women in the global south that is regarded as a threat to environmental security” rather than the disparity of bodily autonomy and human rights that is used to blame the eradication of resources. Women’s capabilities have been under-valuated and over-demanded, yet in cases where ownership and entrepreneurial abilities are given back to the marginalized citizens progress has come about. As Parenti stated forms of adaptation become productive in people’s own countries due to cultural understanding and traditional ecological care.

The gendered connection to the earth is caused directly through social hierarchy, education and poverty, all of which cause female-bodied people to be continuously put in harmful situation, this however has less to do with direct causation than with indirect factors. Feminist goals include the equality of genders which will allow women and girls to shed the growing responsibility of population and environmental damage. As such while I believe that environment must be understood currently in terms of gender, I do not believe it is inherently so and instead man made. Women are not naturally in charge of the earth, but as the bush women once said “women and the earth have to tolerate a lot’ and often together.


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