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: