Francoise d’Eaubonne

Prompted by acuteness of ecological and feminist struggles alike, ecofeminist view relied on the thesis that women are disproportionately environmentally vulnerable because of their labour-related contact to nature; on top of it, patronizingly conceptualized metaphors like that of caring “Mother Nature” come into play. It is only fitting that the movement had to entail reflections about land treated like a possessed object, women´s perilous physical exposure to nature, and the metaphorically related to it “feminine”. The deconstruction could thus diverge in accordance to which part to appropriate or deem less relevant. It could deny the metaphoric connection for the sake of escaping oppressive treatment, and the physical one in search of future shelter from natural dangers. It could also connect all the dots and ultimately embrace the “special connection”, nonetheless fighting against hierarchical inferiority, preserving both women’s rights and ecology that had an impact on them. Only a comprehensive picture – or a landscape, to fit the theme – would support the reasoning behind the critique of scorned environmental ethics and form what we know today as “ecofeminism”.
It is Françoise d’Eaubonne who is credited with the term. In spite of the threat of criminal prosecution, along with a row of her notable contemporaries, in 1971 d’Eaubonne signed the “Manifesto of the 343” authored by Simone de Bouvoir: “One million women in France have abortions every year. Condemned to secrecy they do so in dangerous conditions, while under medical supervision this is one of the simplest procedures. We are silencing these millions of women. I declare that I am one of them. I declare that I have had an abortion. Just as we demand free access to contraception, we demand the freedom to have an abortion.”[1]Manifesto of the 343. Accessed with: Her approach coincided for the most part with the view aiming to maintain the close relationship women have with the environment, not debunk it. Neighbouring the archetypal deaths of the century preceding it, d’Eaubonne’s “Feminism or Death” (1974) put the spotlight on the imminent death of nature as we know it. She did not necessarily criticize the distribution of roles and attribution of re-productive, care-related occupations to women, but rather the significance that these are given. The principal difference with the alternative path is, d’Eaubonne would encourage affinity to nature, and in fact, regardless of gender. Appreciation and care would rely on being closer to it than those treating nature like mere property – the subordination ecofeminism sought to end. D’Eaubonne’s direction thus pointed to a link between patriarchal exploitation of nature and exploitation of women, established by the type of work they were traditionally tasked with. Simone de Bouvoir’s contempt towards the very notion of nature was rooted in striving to debunk this limitation of women to their alleged “natural functions”.
Ecofeminism has established connections between the two oppressive structures, some more straightforward than the others. On the one hand, close contact to their environment made women more prone to harmful effects of climate change and so on. On the other, since men claimed ownership over nature and tasked women with taking care of it, the objectification was also set in stone. With such a metaphor in place, women´s alleged lack of complexity as the simple, the natural as opposed to man-made and “revolutionary” has perpetuated the juxtaposition of discovery and invention, passivity and intervention. Yet conceptualized like this, the “revolutionary” only revealed its damage to the environment, as in the alarming case of industry-fueled climate change. Considering this agenda, ecofeminism could not advocate for merely switching the roles for the sake of evening down environmental vulnerability. It stood against passivising women per association with stillness; then, highlighted the damage the faulty world order has made to the environment as well as to women. Thus a later development made an accent on the nature of domination, or, in an idiomatic twist, logic of domination[2]Warren: Ecofeminist Philosophy: A Western Perspective on What It Is and Why It Matters., relying on (1) superiority of men that can be used to (2) justify domination, with property relations seen as a root of societal as well as environmental dilapidation.
D’Eaubonne introduced ecofeminism as a rather radical retrospective memento, putting toxic masculinity to blame for the literally and metaphorically toxic to the planet state of the arts. Deriving from “Feminism or Death”, the subordination of nature echoes that of women, colliding in a perfect storm. It is this very oppressive structure that had to be broken, so in the end, the heated up environmental argument boils down to the opposition of destruction and nurturing, of a race till the (catastrophic) end and a slow-paced, attentive walk to remember.

List of literature:

Clark, Timothy (2010): Ecofeminism. In: The Cambridge Introduction to Literature and the Environment.
Warren, Karen (2000): Ecofeminist Philosophy: A Western Perspective on What It Is and Why It Matters. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.


1 Manifesto of the 343. Accessed with:
2 Warren: Ecofeminist Philosophy: A Western Perspective on What It Is and Why It Matters.

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