Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ecofeminism in Action

I am an ecofeminist I say this loud and proud. I believe women have a special connection to the earth and nature that leads us to emerge as advocates and activists for the planet, as well as its human, nonhuman, and inert inhabitants.

On Saturday, Nov. 14, I visited my friend Iris Underwood at Yule Love It Lavender Farm in Leonard, Mich., during her Third Annual Yuletide Shopping Tea. Yule Love It is Iris’ organic vision that began in 2006. In my mind, Iris is an ecofeminist and the lavender farm is a realization of ecofeminism in action.

Yet, as I spoke with Iris and her assistant, Deb, in the farm’s gift shop, it became evident that the marriage of the prefix “eco” with the word “feminism” is a concept that evokes strong sentiments.

Deb associates feminism with man bashing. “I hear so much of it, (from women) everywhere,” she says. She believes that men and women should work together to heal the planet instead of maintaining the “he vs. she” dichotomy associated with feminism.

Deb’s reaction is a common one because of the feminism’s negative connotations. There is even debate among ecofeminists as to whether fostering women’s connection to nature is beneficial in terms of making social gains and challenging traditional gender roles.

Iris strongly believes that women should maintain a connection to the earth and nature. She hands me a book by MaryJane Butters, the mother of the Farmgirl Sisterhood Through here books, Butters serves as Iris’ on-going inspiration for the farm, and her way of life.

“Study this woman, Cherie,” she tells me. “I challenge any academician to say she is not her own woman.”

I will, Iris. But, there is no doubt in my mind that women’s connection to nature should not only be reaffirmed, but celebrated and validated.

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