Praxis in Action

My idea for our activism project involved trying to reduce my impact on the environment by limiting my intake of cow’s milk and using less plastic. I did this by rotating through alternative kinds of milk, including almond, coconut, and oat milks. When coming up against using plastics, I limited and reused plastics everywhere I could. I brought my own straw for my morning coffee, and didn’t purchase new, single use plastics, other than what is listed below. I also kept an ongoing log of my day’s experiences and what I ate and drank throughout the day that adhered to my goals. My goal for this week is to find ways that I can stick to reducing single-use plastics and alternative milk choices long-term.

Day 1: 4/11

Today I brought my steel straw to use for my coffee. I’m a total creature of habit, so I was worried I would forget to bring this, but I cleaned it out and brought it with me for the ride into work. I ordered my coffee with almond milk, which tasted delicious. My stomach didn’t seem to quite agree with it, but I will give it a shot for at least the next couple days to rule out this being an issue.

Something I noticed right away was the price jump. It was an extra 70 cents to use almond milk as opposed to my usual skim.

Lunch: ordered a veggie burger, with no cheese and a side of sweet potato fries. I could have gotten more veggie toppings, which I kind of wish I had, but ordering out can get pretty expensive! I didn’t really miss the cheese on this burger, I was surprised to find out. But when thinking about how it would have held the burger together better (it was kind of crumbly), I had an idea – to keep an eye out for places that have vegan and vegetarian options and “edits”. I would have gotten cheese if there was a vegan option! As well, instead of using another cup or bottle, I refilled this morning’s water bottle with the filtered water machine at work.

Shopping for snacks: A lot of the things I picked up had milk products in them, or were made in plant that also processes these products. So, for these things (crackers, oatmeal, granola bars), it will be hard to go completely vegan. I never realized all of these things might not be fully vegan! I did well on making vegetarian choices, but I did also buy a large plastic bottle of water. (I’m going on a short road trip to my father’s and needed something quick and portable that would hold a lot.)

Dinner: Due to extenuating circumstances, I couldn’t make the most ideal choices that I would have liked tonight, but I did what I could. I went out to dinner, and ended up eating a tuna salad sandwich, but drank out of reusable glasses. I opted to not use a straw. It was kind of frustrating only when taking the last few sips, and having the ice cubes fall into my face! Other than that, it was fine, and didn’t really miss the straw. The lack of options really stuck out to me today – no vegan options, few vegetarian and no paper straws.

Day 2: 4/12

Today I realized how hard it is to start a new habit! On my morning coffee run, I ordered it with almond milk, and the cashier automatically gave me a straw with it. Without thinking, I opened it and put it in my coffee – I didn’t realize it until I was halfway home! I was hoping this would be a little easier, but now realizing it will take a little more intention. I did better at lunch – I ordered out for a veggie sandwich, and it came in a paper container which was a bonus! Today wasn’t great due to my extenuating circumstances but will try to do better tomorrow! Dinner was pasta, which I didn’t realize came with (buttered) garlic bread, but overall not too bad.

Day 3: 4/13

Today I realized how difficult these initiatives are to accomplish, as many places don’t have the alternatives like certain milks or non-plastic options to offer. Today’s uses include:

  • 1 plastic cup used in the morning; saved 1 straw by using a steel one with coffee.
  • Lunch: reheated leftover pasta; no additional plastics or animal products used.
  • Dinner: I had a long drive, so I had to grab fast food, but I limited myself where I could. I used 1 plastic to-go cup and saved 1 straw by using my own. I used no additional plastics that night.

Day 4: 4/14:

Today, I continued to use my straw for coffee, with which I got almond milk, but used 1 plastic cup. Saved 1 straw.

For lunch, I had a veggie sandwich with no cheese, and it was delicious. I normally get cheese added to sandwiches, and was worried I wouldn’t enjoy it as much, but I did! I typically would have ordered an iced tea in a plastic cup, but decided to drink the water I already had.

I went out to eat for dinner, and did not use a straw; I ordered a cheeseless burger for my meal.

Day 5: 4/15:

When I ordered my iced coffee this morning, I decided to try coconut milk, which I liked better! I did use a disposable plastic cup, but used my own straw.

For lunch, I did have chicken, but also a salad and soda – no other meat or cheese was included.

This evening was unfortunately kind of a mess, and had me somewhat doubting my ability to keep this activism up after the assignment is over! I can’t imagine being a very strict vegan or vegetarian and having to deal with hiccups in your day – it could really disrupt everything! I had plans with a friend, and for dinner I ended up needing to eat a slice of pizza, and using one plastic cup & straw for my drink.

Day 6, 4/16:

It’s been occurring to me these last few days that a lot of places that serve food and drinks don’t give you much of a choice with straws anymore. I ordered an iced coffee at lunch today, and it came with a straw already in the glass. I used to typically get paper straws or have to specifically ask for one; they aren’t freely given in some places. For my vegan/vegetarian choice, I asked for oat milk for my coffee and had an avocado and veggie-based appetizer. So far, I think the oat milk is my favorite! This and the coconut milk don’t bother my stomach like the almond milk did.

I wanted a water while I was out running errands later, but didn’t want to buy another plastic bottle. So I bought some coconut water to try, which comes in a paper box. I loved that aspect, but unfortunately didn’t like the water. I would like try to find another use for it.

Day 7, 4/17:

Today, I brewed coffee at home, and used almond milk, so no plastics used! I reheated some leftovers for meals, but did use one bottle of water.


Overall, I would rate my success this week at about a B. I could have done better, but since I was setting out to make small, sustainable changes and educating myself about things, I think I accomplished what I set out to do. I’m a bit of an iced coffee addict, so I wish I could find a better way to get an iced coffee on the way into work in the morning that is convenient and timely, without using a single use plastic cup. I have a long commute with heavy traffic, so can only afford quick AM stops.

All of the single-use water bottles I used this week were ones I had already bought. Going forward, though, I would like to see what kind of alternatives I could come up with to use less of these bottles. Our town water isn’t very good as drinking water, so I am considering buying a Brita. I do like Poland Springs water a lot, so I am planning to buy a large refrigerator sized container instead of a case of water bottles. For either of these options, I could use fill up a portable glass and reusable straw.

Throughout the week, I looked into these alternative milk options to see what the best option was. The types I tried were the most readily available, and had less fat and calories than cow’s milk (coconut milk was higher in calories, though). Coconut milk is known to be more hydrating as well. If I could do this experiment over, and I think I will, I would give myself a little more time to prepare. Working full time and handling school left little time for preparation, so I would like to do a little more research into easy, affordable options. I’m happy to say that in the week since I completed this project, I have not used any more plastic straws! This is certainly something I can maintain in the future.

Plastic use Tally

Straws saved: 7
Straws used: 3
Plastic cups/bottles used: 7
Cups/bottles saved: 2
Note: Since I did not purchase any new single-use bottled waters this week, I did not tally these in my counts.

Praxis – Activist Project


One of the main tenets of ecofeminism is the burden which society puts on the earth. Humans essentially insist that animals and nature are there for the taking, and can be used an oppressed to enrich or assist their lives. The main concept of which is closely linked to the treatment of women through the ages. Many animals are raised for the sole purpose of providing food and meat to their communities. While this may be a good thing on this small scale, it gets much worse when animals are used for mass consumption. They are confined in unhealthy and sometimes painful environments, being fed hormones so they can provide us milk and other products, until they are eventually executed.

My overall goal for this project is to do what I personally can to lessen theburden on the environment by making a few small changes to my lifestyle, that I could potentially stick with long term. My idea is to attempt a vegan/vegetarian diet for one week, as well as reduce my use of plastics. Due to my own dietary needs and health concerns, I’m afraid I can’t implement a full vegan diet, so I wanted to add an extra element to make this project worthwhile. I drink a lot of water, and usually use many disposable plastic bottles. I’ve regretted this for some time, but haven’t yet made the step to take accountable change. As we’ve read in our coursework, pollution is a huge problem on our planet, with much of our unrecycled garbage ending up in our waterways.  This can affect the lives and well-being of women and children around the world, as they rely on clean water in order to feed and clean their families.


I always recycle and am adamant about recycling every product that I can. But I feel that is the only part of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra that I focus on. So, I am going to further explore the “reduce/reuse” elements of this! Each morning, I grab a coffee on the way into work. This comes in a plastic cup, and I typically get it with skim (cow’s) milk. For the next week, I will plan on changing my order to include almond milk, and bringing one of my own reusable straws. If I forget, then I will drink the coffee without a straw. Throughout the week, I plan to brainstorm a way to reduce my usage of the plastic cup it comes in. On days that I may go out to eat, I will order drinks that are only served in a reusable glass, and will forego a straw, or bring a reusable collapsible straw.

Making vegan & vegetarian changes may be a little more challenging. Aside from the change to almond milk in my coffee, I plan to reduce my use of dairy and meats in my daily meals. I typically eat a lot of turkey and chicken, with the occasional steak or hamburger. I plan to focus on plant based dishes, and asking for cheeses to be removed from sandwiches I have made (I’m a big sandwich person!). I do love veggie burgers, so I plan to make one of those for dinner this week. I usually have cheese on any kind of burger, so this will be a new challenge to find something to replace that, or to try foods without this ‘safety net’. I love cheese, so I’m interested to see how this works out!


As for the achievement or affect I expect to have, I realize that over the course of 7 days, the impact one person might have is not huge, but it will be something. At the very least, there will be one less person using that straw, or buying meat, or eating cheese. I understand there might be health benefits as well, and I want to see how I feel after doing this for one week. Cutting the calories down from eating cheese or using alternative types of milk will be a plus, but I don’t plan on counting calories for the basis of this project. As well, I’m sure I will talk to people about it during the course of the week, so it could possibly get others to rethink their use of plastics, or use almond milk for the first time. I will record what I eat and do each day to see how well I stuck with my plan, and my feelings on doing so. I will attempt to count how many pieces of plastic I could have used and did not, and report on how well I think I could keep this activism going beyond this course.


The works we read this week showed us many different aspects of how environmental degradation can affect those of lower economic status and, specifically, how they can affect women at a higher rate. The reading The Chipko Movement addresses this issue directly as it discusses the 1970s movement in India. After being denied the right to use wood from part of the local forest for tools, villagers in the Alakananda valley were angry when they learned that the government implemented other plans for the land in that area. Instead of using the forest’s resources for something useful for their village, the government put the area to use as grounds for a sports company. Women that lived in the area protested, and were able to save the land from being razed, but not without a new term being coined in the process.

Source: Wikipedia

When the protests like these became popular, it birthed the term ‘tree hugger’, due to people forming circles around the trees in order to save them. Language such as this is meant to be derogatory, which discredits those in the movement – women, in these cases – in order for the ones using it to be taken more seriously. Not only did the Indian government in this example think it was ok to use the land to their own arguably selfish advantage, they thought it would be ok to risk the livelihood of the women and children who depended on it, as well.

A similar sentiment is brought up in the article “Speak Truth to Power” by Wangari Maathai, as it shows women’s innate connection to nature. Since they are the primary food and water source for their families, they are the first to “notice when the food they feed their family is tainted with pollutants or impurities” (Maathai, 2000). The health of the earth is manifested in the health of the children that ingest these resources – when water and crops are bad, their children become ill and sickly. Editor Kerry Kennedy explains the work Wangari Maathai did in order to ensure women in Africa had seedlings to grown trees to help “stop soil erosion, provide shade, and create a source of lumber and firewood” (Maathai, 2000). Maathai came up with a plan to plant millions of trees throughout Africa and the rest of the world. She called this the Green Belt Movement.

By Kingkongphoto & from Laurel Maryland, USA – Wangari Maathai 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, CC BY-SA 2.0,

This plan not only motivated countess women throughout Africa, it gave them confidence in their abilities and encouraged other women and neighbors to become involved. The movement grew, but came to a head when oppressive forces decided they wanted to transform a piece of land that community members accessed for free. The Nairobi government attempted to build a large building in this public space in Uhuru Park, but Maathai and those helping her in this mission protested against it. Just like the government wanted to oppress nature by way of this public park, they decided to oppress these women as well, when they had a valid opposition to it. They attempted many things in attempts to embarrass and dismiss them, but seemingly nothing in the way of bringing in a valid counter-argument.

All of this being said, I do agree with the question of material deprivations relating to deeper issues of disempowerment. Men and those in power are threatened by strong, capable, outspoken women. They resort to childish tactics of name calling and bullying instead of joining the fight with integrity, facts and intelligence. President Moi’s “ruling party parliamentarians threatened to mutilate her genitals in order to force Maathai to behave ‘like women should’’ (Maathai, 2000). I’ve learned that when things like this happen, this is how you know you’re right in your argument…but that it is also an unwinnable one. Though I do believe this is true on both sides of the coin. I think when people resort to this style of fighting, they know they don’t have very solid ground to stand on, so they try to ruin one’s credibility, and embarrass and stress them out enough that they will eventually back down. As she said in the article, “Parliament was just being mean, chauvinistic, and downright dirty…I know I was right, and they were wrong” (Maathai, 2000). Actions like this are an unbelievable overreaction. There will likely always be people with too much power that wish to wield that on others to ensure they always stay in control. Without help from our governments, and without our oppressors realizing we are all on the same side, with no one person being more important than the next, we will have a long route to go until we are all equal.

Intersectionality and Connectivity

Ecofeminism, as we’ve learned, can mean may different things, and have many aspects of feminism associated with it. This topic, in and of itself, studies the relationship between women and nature, as well as the oppressions that come along with them, and how they relate to each other. As well, each individual person has their own set of identities that overlap and interconnect with each other. Because part of understanding ecofeminism is understanding women and their oppression, we must look more into being a woman, which has many different aspects. Because of this, the term intersectionality was born.

In their reading, Intersectionality and the Changing Face of Ecofeminism, A.E. Kings refers to this term as a “web of entanglement”, as opposed to a simple crossing of paths (Kings, 2017). It describes a varied list of categories that make a person who they are – “gender, sexuality, race, or class; while encircling spirals depict individual identities” (Kings, 2017). Think of these spirals and crossing paths as you would a spider’s web: there are many major categories ‘stuck’ together by “two or more intersecting or conflicting social categories” (Kings, 2017). While our gender might have us facing one type of oppression, our race or sexuality may have us facing another; or even the opposite. I thought this was such a beautiful example of how intersectionality works – these aren’t just stand-alone, tentpole characteristics. They are all a part of us and work together to create the complex beings that we are.

The term intersectionality is largely credited to Kimberlé Crenshaw, who is a critical legal race scholar, and coined the term in 1989 (, 2022). She wanted to “represent and capture the specificity of the discrimination faced by black women” (Kings, 2017). Not only are black women oppressed by their gender, they are also oppressed for their race. This type of issue isn’t quite covered under ecofeminism, as it more uses the blanket term of ‘all women’. Leah Thomas’ article The Difference Between Ecofeminism & Intersectional Environmentalism explores this perspective in more detail, and really exemplifies the core of what intersectionality means. We have read works from multiple types of people in this course, but women of color deal with more oppression that just that of their gender. She reminds readers that the color of her skin is not “an extra “add on” to my feminism or environmentalism” (Thomas, 2020), but feels that intersectionality is more inclusionary to her lived experience as a woman.

There is another aspect to all this, though, as the topic of intersectionality is not only how we see ourselves, but how we see other people and our relationships to them. In Beverly Tatum’s The Complexity of Identity, she states that “social scientist Charles Cooley pointed out long ago, other people are the mirror in which we see ourselves” (Tatum, 1). She calls this the ‘looking glass self’ which, to go deeper into the conjoined web of intersectionality, explains how we are not just a list of checkboxes, affected by different aspects of ourselves at any given time. We are social beings, and are made up of what we learn from our families, our communities and the world around us. “Erik Erikson, the psychoanalytic theorist who coined the term identity crisis, introduced the notion that the social, cultural, and historical context is the ground in which individual identity is embedded” (Tatum, 1). I have long thought this way, myself. I have always learned equally from people I’ve known for a short while or a lifetime, about the kind of person I want to be, and what I want to experience.

Tension can come into play, though, when it comes to the differences between what she calls the ‘dominant’ and ‘subordinate’ groups. Tatum references Jean Baker Miller who “points out that dominant groups generally do not like to be reminded of the existence of inequality” (Tatum, 4). Furthermore, “they can even believe both they and the subordinate group share the same interests and, to some extent, a common experience” (Tatum, 4). I loved this quote from Tatum’s reading because it so clearly showed how the imbalances work, and how interdependent they are on the other. The subordinates need to learn about and study the dominant people in their world, but dominants “can avoid awareness because… it is easy to believe everything is as it should be” (Tatum, 4).

But this is dangerous territory, to not explore the world around us, and just assume everything is working out as it should. It is both within and outside of our respective groups that we will find people working for and against us. “Traditional feminist theory,” Dorothy Allison states, in A Question of Class, “has had a limited understanding of class differences and…implies that we are all sisters who should only turn our anger and suspicion on the world outside” (Allison). In this quote, I find some relevance to my own life when she comments on being angry at people outside the LGBTQIA+ community – the key word here is ‘implies’. We often look outward towards our oppressors to express our frustrations – why are they acting this way, and doing this to us? But in some cases, it could very well be the people in our own ‘groups’ that are perpetuating certain oppressions.

When it comes to the way women are treated, I have realized that certain learned behaviors may be driving the way women treat other women, which works directly against our own interests. As a cis, white, heterosexual woman, I will never fully understand the feelings behind what Allison writes here. Yes, I have had certain advantages, but one “strike” against me is that I am woman, so I am faced with certain expectations and judgements. So, all I can do is try to relate and understand through things that I have experienced. She mentions how “the idea of writing stories seemed frivolous when there was so much work to be done,” but this is the way it should be (Allison). As she mentions, we are so harsh on ourselves, because of the way that society is contrived. Speaking out, even in the form of writing, will help break down these stigmas and get us to treat ourselves with more grace.


“Claiming your identity in the cauldron of hatred and resistance to hatred is infinitely complicated, and worse, almost unexplainable.”
~Dorothy Allison, A Question of Class


Outside works cited:

The Scottish Government. “Using Intersectionality to Understand Structural Inequality in Scotland: Evidence Synthesis.” Scottish Government, The Scottish Government, 10 Mar. 2023,


The Gender Equality and State Environmentalism essay by Kari Norgaard and Richard York investigates the effect that the involvement of women has on environmental politics. They claim to have found this shows that it is important to consider “the role of gender in analyses of state behavior” due to the similarities between women and the exploitation of nature. One key piece of evidence they uncovered was that women are more likely to speak out about environmental concern than men, and have a more well-rounded view of the issues. This shows that certain “human-environmental relationships are themselves gendered” with certain issues being supported by men more than women and vice versa (Norgaard, 508). Not only do Norgaard and York find that these differences hold throughout nationalities as well, they find that women found certain things more risky than men, and that they make up “60 to 80 percent of membership in mainstream environmental organizations” (Norgaard, 509). In the end, they found that “societies with greater representation of women in Parliament are more prone to ratify environmental treaties” (Norgaard, 512). Women contribute highly to the development of their nations, and their study confirmed that there is a connection to feminist theories and environmental issues.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an organization that is actively supporting women in roles that aid in the betterment of environmental issues. Much like Norgaaard and York saw and understood the different needs women have when it comes to the environment, the OECD points out the gender differentiation when it comes to sustainable infrastructure. Their paper entitled Women’s Leadership in Environmental Action delves into this, stating that “Better access to sustainable infrastructure services and participation in infrastructure investment projects…that meet women’s needs is critical to enhance women’s economic empowerment” (OECD, 2022). They specifically mention issues surrounding water, energy and housing that need to be improved, but there are other areas in need of improvement as well. The report delves into gender considerations in transport, social infrastructure, digital infrastructure, and risks of harassment women face when performing the work surrounding these topics. Later, they cover ‘gender mainstreaming’ into different aspects of project implementations and deliveries.

Link to OECD the article:

Xia Ling and Yanhong Liu’s article titled “The Coordination of Environmental Protection and Female Discrimination Based on the Concept of Affirmative Action” touches on many of the same points as Norgaard and York. Norgaard and York state in their essay: “In an unequal society, the impacts of environmental degradation fall disproportionately on the least powerful”, meaning women (Norgaard, 507). Ling and Liu expand on this thought in a different way by saying that men will go so far as to “use their position to block or suppress” women’s efforts in this area to maintain their control on social resources (Ling, 2023). When this impact is reviewed, there is no space to comment on any environmental changes from a gendered point of view. Ling and Liu agree that women lack equality in this field and urge for legal change. They call for governments to “incorporate gender awareness into their policies” through education and training, and learning from women’s past approaches (Ling, 2023). Along with research from a gendered perspective, they feel moving away from a neutral concept in policy implementation will make a huge difference.

Ling/Liu article:

Lastly, I came across the below statistic that illustrates the issue we are facing today regarding the involvement of women in politics. The core of the readings this week focus on the lack of women in political and environmental roles and, more importantly, how important their voices are to the communities they serve. This statistic shows how urgent it is for more women to become involved in government issues, as we are not likely to see marked change within our lifetimes.

As of 1 January 2023, there are 31 countries where 34 women serve as Heads of State and/or Government. At the current rate, gender equality in the highest positions of power will not be reached for another 130 years.

Meat! But make it sexy: The Women-Nature Association

The readings on Carol Adams this week gave a more focused look at the sexualization of food and eating in our country, and how the advertising industry frames it. The appearance of women is in so many advertisements that offer food in a way that entices men and sexualizes how we interpret and consume it. Adams mentioned a phrase introduced to her that perfectly describes this phenomenon: anthropornography. She explains it as referring to “the depiction of non-human animals as whores” (Kemmerer 2006), usually “presented as sexually consumable, in a way that upholds the sexual exploitation of women” (Adams, 2009). Much of it shows animals with feminine qualities, or even just parts of women’s bodies, with the rest of their bodies either out of frame, or left out of the image entirely. These advertisements make eating – and it’s usually meat eating – sexy, and imply the promise of manliness and desirability if you eat this meat.

Steak on Offer

The first picture I’d like to analyze is this one below: It features a man standing outside a restaurant which, judging by his apron, he presumably owns or manages. He is proudly standing in front of a sandwich board that boats a ‘cheeky’ (pun somewhat intended) offer to his patrons and seems to be getting some amusement out of it. While selling steak, this establishment decided to put something of a saucy spin on the sale of their steak. The first part of the sign, ‘steak on offer’, implies something illicit and sexual, like one should half expect to find nude women on the counter when walking into the store. This is being offered up, with little to no work on the part of the patron. When combined with the first, the second part of the sign that offers to ‘tenderize your rump’, brings up visions of the aforementioned nude women with red behinds. The way the owner is standing by the sign, it almost looks as if he’s offering to tenderize these steaks for you! But as Adams explains it, these steaks are being offered up, so they want to be violated in this way.

We Deliver

In this image for what looks to be a burger joint, a woman is literally giving birth to a burger. All we see are a woman with her legs spread and a burger between them, which is being received by a doctor. Women are shown, in the picture, to be providing food and carnage to men and other people (as the doctor in the picture is a man, which is a whole other can of worms.) Women are seen as providers and for feeding us when we need it, so of course, it seems natural that a woman would be offering this. But we also can’t fail to to notice the sexual aspect of the woman offering something enticing between her legs. This again shows that minimal work is entailed for the consumer to get this product. Got the urge? We’ll bring it right to you! That’s it!

Eat Me

Another sandwich board offering something saucy! (Hey, another food reference!) Here we have the sexy, tempting legs of a woman, holding up a hamburger. The red high heels and the fishnet stockings signify something a little more overt than simply sexy; it crosses the line into slutty. In her interview with Annie Potts, Carol Adams talks about how these exact images come across in advertising. Female-resembling images are “hanging on the arms of men…chickens in high heels”, but these aren’t always full-bodied women (Adams, 2009). As evidenced in this photo, and some of the others I’ve mentioned, the female depicted character is acting complicit and seemingly “dead and yet she wants it. Wants what? Wants sex; wants to be sexually used; wants to be consumed” (Adams, 2009). What better way to express this than to have a large thought bubble hovering over the burger inviting patrons to “eat me”? The double entendre is seductive enough to get the attention of men who are meat eaters to take notice, and be more intrigued to go inside and order this burger.


Peppa Pig

This final example is a bit more crude than the others, and it is obviously intended as a joke, but can come across in bad taste. Here we see a package of raw pork, chopped up and wrapped, ready to be purchased by the consumer. The sticker that would normally have information about the meat if it were at a grocery store, instead shows a picture and the name of the beloved children’s cartoon character, Peppa Pig; underneath that, the words: jigsaw puzzle. It implied this is a fun game for humans to reassemble our prey before we eat it. Adding a face to the name gives it an extra edge of dark humor that many will find humorous. Again, this picture doesn’t depict anything that is real and out in the world, but it does speak to the way we view and treat animals. It is so commonplace that we oppress and kill these animals that we use the act as a basis for humor and to make light of the topic.

Vegetarian Ecofeminism

The picture posed in class this week greatly encapsulates human’s relationships with animals. It shows a human-like form, that is dressed as a chef, cutting into an unidentified hunk of meat, with a few slices already carved. The way the carvings are laid out, and the fact that it is all on a cutting board, show that the meat is being sliced up and is ready to serve to people. This setup, along with the dominant stance the figure is taking, implies the dominance we as humans have over the animal species. This was shared to show the crude reality of this inter-species oppression.

When it comes to the topic of gendered food, men and women are expected to eat different things and have different eating habits. For instance, men are expected to be the ones eating meat – an idea that, Zoe Eisenberg says in her article Meat Heads – “We’ve been fed…for a decade.” (2016) She references a study where men agree that other men who have gone completely vegan, are considered “effeminate”. Women, on the other hand, are associated with things like salad, vegetables and small portions. More women, and possibly more feminists, are likely to be vegetarian or vegan. On both sides, this seems to have a basis in both marketing and societal standards. Men expect women to eat light and be in shape, which can lead to women being nervous to eat in front of men, or choosing to eat meals like salads and water.

I found an article that spoke a little more to the issue of this shift in eating norms. It seemed to begin the late 1800s, when men and women would have segregated places to eat. Paul Friedman’s article “Steak for the gentleman, salad for the lady” stated that, at the time: “Magazines and newspaper advice columns identified fish and white meat with minimal sauce, as well as new products like packaged cottage cheese, as “female foods.” And of course, there were desserts and sweets, which women, supposedly, couldn’t resist.” Anything that could be considered as light and ‘dainty’ would be considered as food for women. (Article linked below as well.)

I see this issue as relating to the way people talk about and refer to different types of women. By using the terms “chick” or “bird” to refer to them, we are reinforcing the power balance between humans and animals. These terms are used to put others in a box, and that box implies that the people within its are less than. This relates to food in the way that these names are carelessly spouted off, much like certain animals are carelessly killed for our own convenience. When women are referred to in terms of animals, they are all harmless, demure and adorable. Men are referred to as “dogs” when they date a lot of women, or other such strong animals such as bulls or horses when at work. These comparisons are complimentary for men, yet degrading for women.

Deane Curtin stated in her essay: “An ecofeminist perspective emphasizes that one’s body is oneself.” I think this simple quote explains her feelings on how ecofeminists perceive non-human animals. Animals are considered extentions of ourselves to ecofeminists. If we are harming animals, we are harming ourselves. Curtin believes that the taking of another life is inherently violent, and that violence begets violence. According to Gaard, feminists who claim a love of animals, “see a specific link between sexism and speciesism.” Her thoughts are generally in alignment with Curtin, but she goes in a slightly different direction with it. She highlights the connection between women, and the animal-specific words used to describe them (mentioned above). But according to her, eco-feminists today recognize that both between women and animals, are both being oppressed in different ways. There is an inherent understanding that speciesism is linked to many other kinds of oppression, so modern eco-feminists are invested in a world with no oppression of any kind.

Paul Friedman’s article:

Understanding Place

I grew up in a fairly rural area of Massachusetts, and for me, wildness was all around me. I spent much time outdoors when I was young, and spending time with my siblings and neighborhood friends, who are some of my best friends today. When home, we would walk through the woods in our backyard, along the trails and even on highway overpasses where they would lead. This picture below is an image of a trail in the Georgetown-Rowley State forest that lies behind the home I grew up in.

Source: John Peterson,

This space holds many great memories for me, so I felt it worth mentioning. But it became abundantly clear to me, though, when I read Barbara Kingslover’s Knowing Our Place, what space in the world I would be writing about this week. This passage sincerely resonated with me, and confirmed that I had the right place in mind:

People will need wild places…They need to experience a landscape that is timeless…To be surrounded by a…commotion of other species…none of whom could possibly care less about your economic status or your day-running calendar…It reminds us that our plans are small and somewhat absurd.

My version of Kingslover’s landscape is a small beach in Salem, MA where I spent most of my childhood with my family and brought many friends, who all fell in love with it (almost) as much as I did. My mother grew up in the neighborhood where this beach was located, and my grandparents owned that home until I was in my 30s. To this day, it holds a special place in my heart. As kids, we would spend time looking for and capturing any number of sea life and objects we could find. Anything from sea glass and old shells, to mussels, hermit crabs, and barnacles would provide us endless entertainment.

As I got older, it became less about the simple fun of splashing around and collecting old glass, and more about a place to relax, center myself, and reflect. I firmly believe we need this time away from our regular lives to reset ourselves and quiet our minds. We need the reminder that our world is bigger than just us, as we can tend to get us caught up in fast-paced lives and the urgency of everything that is happening right in front of us. But what I did notice as I got older, is that it wasn’t taken care of as well as I remember in my youth.

In her piece entitled Home Work, Tempest Williams talks of legislative action taken on Western land, as it is becoming increasingly used, bought, and sold as if it is something to be owned; something she refers to as ‘the civil war’. Should we regulate wilderness? If not, she is concerned, it could become overused and ruined; but if we do, it might not be able to be enjoyed by the very people that love the land the most. She states: “…This is not hard to understand: falling in love with a place, being in love with a place, wanting to care for a place, and see it remain intact as a wild piece of planet.”

This quote resonated with me because it made me think of my own “place” and how much I love it. I care about it because it is part of my childhood identity. When I saw the care of it going downhill, it really made me sad. It used to have crystal clean water and, each year, a comb-through to remove debris and brin in new sand. Now the water is oily with gasoline, and new sand simply dumped over the old; so much so that the high sand causes the beach to meet the street, when before, the high wall it is packed up against would safely shield a child from the sun while enjoying some ice cream. Without access to a clean, functioning beach, how will children in future generations enjoy the simple pleasure of a day at the beach, learn about sea life or reflect on their connection to this space and the world around them as they grow older?

The readings from Williams and Kingslover stress the importance of nature, connecting to it, and respecting it. It should be enjoyed and appreciated, while still preserving it for generations to come. Williams perfectly encapsulates the concept of needing nature in our lives in Home Work, and how pertinent it is to connect to the wildness of it when she states: “It’s hard to take yourself very seriously when confronted face-to-face with a mountain lion or the reality of no water in the desert…stars no longer seen by most as they are erased by urban life.”

Photos are my own, unless otherwise credited.

What is Ecofeminism? Part II

The term “Global South” may sound like it’s referring to a specific part of the world, but in actuality it is more of a metaphor for lower-income and lesser-developed countries. Asian, African and South American countries fall into this category, and are affected by what is called environmental degradation, on a more serious level than other countries. Environmental degradation is an issue that affects many people around the world, yet it’s one that women are found to be uniquely affected by. It entails anything from the disturbance or “destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife” to the deterioration of environmental “resources such as air, water and soil” (

Red countries below indicate the ‘Global South’

Source: Wikipedia

When the sanitation, access and safety of our world’s resources fail, women suffer. I was intrigued by the UN Water article we read, which described the issues women and girls are facing; many of which likely wouldn’t occur to most people residing in the ‘Global North’. Their safety is put at risk, simply by having to share restroom facilities with men and boys, and aren’t involved in decisions made around sanitation services, and thus are assured “their continued marginalization” ( Aside from issues surrounding safety and cleanliness, women’s hygiene and pregnancy needs are not being adequately met.

The piece that really stuck with me after reading this, was the fact that women and girls are typically the ones that fetch water for their families. I wanted to learn more about this, so I referred to a Unicef article, which explained this process, which they referred to as a “colossal waste of time” for these women (, 2016). “In sub-Saharan Africa,” they explain, “one roundtrip to collect water is 33 minutes on average in rural areas and 25 minutes in urban areas”, numbers that vary depending on location. Men are only reported to contribute a fraction of this time to fetching, with time spent being reported as being from 6-10 minutes. This time spent takes away any time women and children could be in school or working to support their families. This issue alone well advocates for the need of having running water in all homes, in order to make things generally safer for women.


The readings of Agarwal and Hobgood-Oster both delve into this dire issue in their works, but bring up different points. One of the main similarities the authors discuss is that femininity is deeply connected to nature and the Earth. Agarwal mentions many different scholars and their opinions on ecofeminism, all of which are of varying degrees of how tightly tied to nature women are. But, she says, “they accept the view that women are ideologically constructed as closer to nature because of their biology” than men are (Agarwal, 121). What Hobgood-Oster didn’t really mention in her essay was this breakdown of how non-white women are affected by the lack of diversity in nature. While she recognized that more women of color need to be in positions of authority when it comes to environmental issues, I felt that her reading focused more on the oppressive relationships between what she referred to as ‘dualistic hierarchies’. One point she does make in regards to criticism of ecofeminism is that many people don’t ascribe to this movement as they feel it doesn’t represent all the different nuances that feminism contains.

I’m more apt to lean towards Agarwal’s view on ecofeminism, as it takes into account that feminism, women, and nature aren’t necessarily painted in such broad strokes. Hobgood-Oster’s work realizes that racism plays a part in the discussion around ecofeminism, but Agarwal goes a little deeper. In her essay The Gender and Environment Debate: Lessons from India, she references work by Carolyn Merchant. She states that in regard to her stance on ecofeminism, it “fails to differentiate among women by class, race, ethnicity” and other characteristics, which she feels leaves out other important forms of oppression that aren’t specifically about gender.

Works Cited:

Agarwal, Bina. “The Gender and Environment Debate: Lessons from India.” Feminist Studies, vol. 18, no. 1, 1992, pp. 119–58. JSTOR, Accessed 13 Feb. 2023.

“Collecting Water Is Often a Colossal Waste of Time for Women and Girls.” UNICEF,

“Environmental Degradation.” United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, 31 Dec. 2015,

“Water and Gender: UN-Water.” UN,

What is Ecofeminism?

Ecofeminism is a completely new concept to me, as I’m sure it is for many people. It took me some time to fully grasp the concept, as there are many different facets to this movement that can make it overwhelming to understand. While there is not a singular defined meaning of the term, Hopgood-Oster’s piece on ecofeminism defines it and its characteristics well. The reading states that ecofeminism “asserts that all forms of oppression are connected and that structures of oppression must be addressed in their totality.” In other words, any oppression against women, nature, or in regards to race, must be part of the conversation when discussing ecofeminism. Oppression against nature is at the core of this movement, as it is similarly structured to that of the oppression of women. They are both part of patriarchal structures that see the oppressed subject as providing something they need, and it being used to the oppressor’s advantage. For instance, early civilizations saw the earth as something that would provide certain provisions for them, and they took these things as they needed them. The same can be said for women, who are needed to bear children, and as the world progressed, they were consistently seen only in relation to other men, and not as their own persons. These parallels are what helped me better grasp the concept.

These patriarchal structures I mentioned are seen in what Hopgood-Oster refers to as “dualistic hierarchies”, such as the balances in “heaven/earth, male/female, human/animal”. It is the ongoing fight between any and all of these oppressive systems that must be deconstructed in order to reach equality in that relationship. Of these examples, the human/animal dichotomy intrigued me the most. The authors likened this to a master and slave relationship, a point which was reinforced by another author, Carol Adams. She “has made explicit links between androcentric, patriarchal treatment of other-than-human animals, particularly focusing on the meat producing industries of the United States, and the exploitation of women.” Not only do humans oppress animals and use them for meat, they are also widely used in fashion and beauty industries.

I chose to model this blog after a website that had a well-rounded view of how women lived their lives. Part of supporting feminism is knowing that we don’t have to fit into a box; we can have many different interests. Some women might think that buying into fashion and beauty can reinforce the stereotype that we are here to look good for others, as we don’t receive the same allowances that men do in regards to their looks. We can certainly enjoy each of these things for their own sake, but I was intrigued by the idea of women having interests and hobbies that may seem directly counterproductive. If we are to resist oppression of any kind in our fight for equality, can we still support an industry that shamelessly uses animals and their products to their advantage?

Many animals are killed each year in order to make fur coats, boots, purses, and other products. According to Alex Assoune of, this annual number is in the billions, worldwide. In the US, “around 159 million animals are slaughtered each year for the leather industry, which is four times more than in 1980”, a number he cites from the Food and Agriculture Organization website (Assoune). Many of these animals suffer in brutal conditions and are eventually executed in violent ways, according to PETA’s website. “Fur and leather items are often deliberately mislabeled” in “countries where animal welfare laws are virtually non-existent”, so it’s not necessarily always clear whether genuine animal products and skin are being used (

Source: Wikipedia

Similarly, the cosmetics industry tests its products on animals, according the The Humane Society. Animals “have substances forced down their throats, dripped into their eyes or smeared onto their skin before they are killed” ( Yet millions of women, many are likely feminists as well, are still using all of these products. I think this is a interesting example of perpetuating a system that we are trying to overturn. How can we be part of an oppressed system and still contribute to oppression in another form? In a counter-point to Carol Adams, a thought from Mary Stange’s books, Woman the Hunter and Gun Women address this very thought. She feels that “women are natural hunters, therefore in a predatory relationship with animals” and that “the woman-animal connection should be reevaluated.” This thought illustrates that we are aware we are supporting this imbalance, and need to become more aware of this so we can focus on change. The topic of ecofeminism and what it entails is quite vast, but it helps us view various types of oppression in a new light. Looking at things in this way can help us realize how much of a part we are playing in systems of oppression, and do what we can to create change.



Assoune, Alex. “Leather, Wool, and Other Clothing Made from Animals.” PETA, 14 Dec. 2022,

“Ending Cosmetics Animal Testing.” The Humane Society of the United States,,end%20cosmetics%20testing%20on%20animals.

Hobgood-Oster, Laura. “Ecofeminism: Historic and International Evolution.” Systemic Alternatives, 18 Jan. 2016,