ECO-FEMINISM AND THE ROLE OF WOMEN AS PRESERVERS

- Sampale Jyoti Digambar


Abstract
Ecofeminism is a literary and cultural theory that links women with nature. Both are dominated by men in the society, this is revealed and exposed in Ecofeminism. It is a recent movement that claims environment is a feminist issue and feminism is an environmental issue. It considers that there is a mystical connection between women and nature. The well-known phrase ‘Mother-Earth’ exemplifies what Ecofeminism is. “The child in the womb knows only mother as his creator, he is nourished and developed by the mother. In the same way, the earth is like a mother nourishing, developing human life.”

Key Words- Ecofeminism, Mother-Earth, creator, mystical, nourished.

BioNote: Sampale Jyoti Digambar is an Associate Professor at Havagiswami College, Udgir

What is Ecofeminism?
Ecofeminism is an offspring of feminism and Ecocriticism.Ecofeminism Also called as ecological feminism, branch of feminism that studies the connections between women and nature. Its name was coined by French feminist Françoise d’Eaubonne in 1974. Ecofeminism uses the basic feminist tenets of equality between genders. It is a social movement emerged out of issue of inferiority both of women and nature. To these notions ecofeminism adds both a commitment to the environment and an awareness of the associations made between women and nature. Specifically, this philosophy emphasizes the ways both nature and women are treated by patriarchal (or male-centred) society. Eco feminists examine the effect of gender categories in order to demonstrate the ways in which social norms exert unjust dominance over women and nature. Its practitioners advocate an alternative worldview that values the earth as sacred, recognizes humanity’s dependency on the natural world, and embraces all life as valuable.This theory also aims at solving the critical environmental issues of global warming, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, pollution. These are perhaps the greatest challenges of the 21st century.

Origin of Ecofeminism-
The modern ecofeminism movement was born out of a series of conferences and workshops held in the United States by a coalition of academic and professional women during the late 1970s and early 1980s. They met to discuss the ways in which feminism and environmentalism might be combined to promote respect for women and the natural world. They noted that women and nature were often depicted as chaotic, irrational, and in need of control, while men were frequently characterized as rational, ordered, and thus capable of directing the use and development of women and nature. Eco feminists contend that this arrangement results in a hierarchical structure that grants power to men and allows for the exploitation of women and nature.
Early Eco feminists firstly tried documenting historical connections between women and the environment and then looking for ways to severe those connections. One founder of ecofeminism,theologian Rosemary Reuther, insisted that all women must acknowledge and work to eradicate the domination of nature if they were to work toward their own emancipation. She urged women and environmentalists to work together to end patriarchal systems that privilege control, and unequal socioeconomic relations.
 The theory has its origin also in western society’s hierarchical dualism (Culture/nature, man/woman etc.) today there are number of eco feminist approaches emerged: spiritual/cultural Ecofeminism, Social/Materialist Ecofeminism, Radical ecofeminism and Liberal ecofeminism.

Radical Ecofeminism and Cultural Ecofeminism-
Radical Eco feminists contend that the dominant patriarchal society equates nature and women in order to degrade both. Radical ecofeminism builds on the assertion of early Eco feminists that one must study patriarchal domination with an eye toward ending the associations between women and nature. It emphasizes to tear apart structures through action.
Cultural Eco feminists, on the other hand, encourage an association between women and the environment. They contend that women have a more intimate relationship with nature because of their gender roles (e.g., family nurturer and provider of food) and their biology. As a result, cultural Ecofeminists believe that such associations allow women to be more sensitive to the sanctity and degradation of the environment. Cultural ecofeminism also has roots in nature-based religions and goddess and nature worship as a way of redeeming both the spirituality of nature and women’s instrumental role in that spirituality.

Goals of Ecofeminism-
1 Eradication of exploitative experiences towards women and nature.
2 To reveal the concept of domination of men over both women and nature.

Future Prospects of ecofeminism-
All people and all governments have to cooperate for eradication of natural destruction and women's oppression. There is a need of positive attitude towards women and nature only then the problem can be overcome.

The role of Women as Preservers-
 A female draws out various characteristics which are different from that of a male. Womanhood is the period in a female’s life. Women have some very important biological functions these mechanisms influence the behavioural patterns of a female. Another such noticeable factor is psychological. She prefers to share and care and possesses an emotional mind when compared to that of men. Emotional intelligence is to be found better in women than in men. The essence of being a woman is sharing, caring and loving. Being a woman is hard work. A woman is an embodiment of obedience, sacrifice, faith, forgiveness and kindness. Hence a woman only can hold her entire family together with her care, love and sacrifice. She also has an adorable enduring capacity that comes from her inner strength.
 A woman’s role in her family is of preserver who nourishes deeply and preserves values in others life. As the whole family dependent on her and her mercy, she is a place of safety, success and love. She strengthens the family with her powerful patience; her divine presence makes her like a goddess. A woman transforms a house made up of walls into a loving home with her admirable skills and blessings. Due to these qualities a female is said to be a preserver for the family and broadly speaking for the universe. Woman in Indian perspective is more loyal to her family and her duties towards it. She is the one who sacrifices and compromises many things for the welfare of her family. Her unflinching faith makes her family to stand in every testing time, so she is truly a creator and preserver of values for life.
 In one of the most famous novels of Ernest Hemingway, “The Old Man and The Sea,''the writer has depicted philosophical interpretations about the relationship of sea and a woman in the form of a mother. In this novel, the sea appears to Santiago as a woman because like her it fascinates and nourishes him. He is dependent on it and wholly at its mercy. A woman must be experienced as ‘great’ in the case of a mother. This woman-sea equation of the novel belongs to the foundation of feminine existence. For Santiago like a mother, sea was his feeder and preserver. In the novel, Sea’s opposite side can be perceived as the Terrible Mother who sometimes takes the form of a monster.

Conclusion-
 Women are truly carriers of culture and preservers of identity. They are more close to nature and have knowledge about plants as foods or medicines.There is no plant which does not have any medical property. Specifically trees and plants are truly blessings for human beings. Nature feeds human beings like a mother, so both are preservers of life Hence respected and not exploited or abused.

References:
1 Adam, Carol ‘Introduction’ In Ecofeminism and the sacred, ed. Carol Adams, New York: Continum,1993.
2 Shiva, Vandana ‘Staying Alive. Women, Ecology and Development in India’ New Delhi, 1995.
3 Nayar, Promod ‘Contemporary literary and cultural theory’. New Delhi,2011.
4 https://www.britannica.com>topic
5 https://en.m.wikipedia.org>wiki

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