You Are What You Repeat


When I look at this image, I am reminded of two things. One is that meat is typically represented by masculine images and in this case, it is evident. The second is that it is another way in which patriarchal ideology has indoctrinated itself in other aspects of life when we look at both human and our non-human friends in terms of their treatment and placement in society which has resulted in their oppression.

At first glance one’s attention is drawn to the figure (while non-gendered I would say it is more representative of the male form) and the knife it is holding and using to cut the meat – an action which is exhibiting dominance. Then one’s eye travels toward the back of the picture, toward the second knife. The knife looks as though it pierced the meat straight through as though to anchor in order to keep it from moving as it is sliced, rendering it motionless. Zoe Eisenberg in her article “Meat Heads: New Study Focuses on How Meat Consumption Alters Men’s Self-Perceived Levels of Masculinity” refers to this type of appropriation when she states that, “it is argued that the connection between meat and masculinity goes far beyond typical sexist advertising as it articulates the hidden connections between meat eating and patriarchy” (Eisenbeg, 4). I would say that this image incapsulates all of that theory.

There are many foods and eating practices which are gendered. It is quite alarming when you actually start to dig into it. What I noticed immediately was that whenever a woman was eating in an image and was depicted in a respectful (normal) manner she was eating things like fish, salad, yogurt, etc. When a man was eating, the images were often of him eating a burger, a steak, a large sandwich. The narrative that women eat vegetables, which are considered “passive” and men eat meat or food associated with “activity”, saturated the images that I googled (Curtin, 1). What was equally disturbing was when the image was flipped and it was a woman holding a burger, bacon, or steak, that the item was immediately sexualized. The image was suddenly a woman in scantily clad clothing usually in a sexual pose of some sort. Here are a few I found that illustrate this dichotomy.

Women eating or serving meat:












Women eating Salad and fruit:

When women were in images with meat (considered otherwise masculine or for men) they were positioned to appear very sexual with emphasis on their mouth or breasts. The treatment of the women in these adds is not one of equality in terms of how they are represented when eating meat, versus how men are represented; however, put her in front of a bowl of veggies and suddenly she is the girl next door. All of these images invoke the 5 conditions of oppression that Greta Gaard speaks of , “exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism and even violence” (Gaard, 2).

What we may not see immediately in these images is the way in which the meat is also being treated. In most of them, meat is the object of dominance, the victim of indulgence, and ultimately powerlessness. Even more so than the women in the ads. Curtin points to this when she said, “There are important connections through food between the oppression of women and the oppression of non-human animals” (Curtin, 1). If we want to look at class levels, non-human animals are always at the bottom of the scale.

Dieting is another gendered food eating practice that I feel is important to address. As we already discussed, society through the push of patriarchal ideals has established not only food gendered norms but goes a step further when it comes to body norms. In Redefining Womanhood (?): Gender, Power, and the Religion of Thinness, Michellle Lelwica wrote, “In a society where most overt forms of discrimination are rhetorically proscribed, popular models of and for womanhood play a key role in maintaining oppressive attitudes and social arrangements. They do so by normalizing a particular body type and appearance: thin, young, white, and rich. Through their homogeny and ubiquity, the ideal that these images represent has become the norm to which many women aspire” (Lelwica, 6). Isn’t that the truth! Body image, as it is represented in society, is another way in which women are oppressed and not just as a gender, but as it applies to class, race, sexuality and so on. Once again when we look at another facet of relationships with food, we find ourselves circling back to divisive standards among varying identities of women and divisive standards within ourselves that lead to unhealthy habits, addiction, and eating disorders. The dieting industry brings in billions of dollars every year. Ask yourself who stands to profit from this? Large corporations of course. Once again, we can go back to Gaard and her five conditions of oppression, all of which are met here.

There are so many other ways in which food practices are gendered, from the responsibility of food preparation and nutrition in the home, which is typically considered the job of women, versus in public forums like restaurants which is typically men. In agriculture, few women hold positions of power or are at the table when decisions are made. Allison N.C. Reiheld summed it up when she said, “Food behaviors, both private and public, are deeply affected by gender norms concerning both masculinity and femininity” (Reiheld, 1).  Once again, the men are holding positions of public recognition and prosper monetarily.

We can clearly see that when it comes to food, women are oppressed. Now let’s take it a step further and look at how our non-human friends are treated when it comes to the world of food production and consumption. There are those ecofeminists that believe that we should not eat animals or animal products. Greta Gaard discusses the idea that sexism (of women) and speciesism (of non-human animals) link women and non-human animals in terms of their oppression. Gaard defines speciesism as, “the oppression of one species by another …. A prejudice or attitude of bias towards  the interests of members of one’s own species against those members of another species” (Gaard, 20). To be quite honest, when I first read this myself (a meat eater) I felt it. I felt the conflict. I cannot argue that we in fact as humans, show dominance over non-human animals. We exploit them for our own needs, for profit, for indulgence and fail to treat them as equals. bell hooks refers to this as “the commodification of otherness”, which is the idea that those who are identified as “other” will continually be exploited for profit (hooks, 380). While hooks was referring most often to race when she was discussing this theory, it can most certainly be applied to non-human animals as they would classify as “other”. The idea that we need to consider non-human animals in their entirety, in their wholeness, is essential here. Looking at them not as a resource but as a life form which is deserving of freedoms not often afforded to them. Gaard even calls into question pet ownership and said that “our relationship with them is always unequal. We have too much power. Humans are masters in a way that few people would be comfortable treating other humans” (Gaard, 21). No one can argue this statement.

So, the question for many becomes …. Can our relationship with non-human animals be situational? Some would argue yes. This is called “contextual ethics” which is the idea that “one need not treat all interests equally as if one had no relationship with any of the parties” (Curtin, 2). Some examples of this would be: If I rescue a pet from a shelter, it is ok because I am providing it with food, shelter, and love. If I have a cow and use it for milk and give it a place to graze, I am using it resourcefully. If I only eat meat because my family has no food and it is the only thing we have access to, that would be acceptable. In these situations, the perspective is that there are specific dynamics that lend to the modification of circumstances surrounding the level of oppression of the non-human animal. In other words as Dean Curtin put it, “I cannot refer to an absolute moral rule that prohibits meat eating under the circumstances” (Curtin, 1). We should look at was is accessible. Do we have other options or choices as to what we can eat? Is there an “ethic of care” taken with the animals raised that we are consuming? Is the meat coming from a factory farm? If we can look at these questions, we can make better assessments that apply responsibly to the decisions we make for ourselves and what we eat. We can implement a “caring for” approach (Curtin, 1). We need to ask more questions and do our research.

After reading about ecofeminism and its connection to vegetarianism, I would be lying if I said it didn’t impact me. All week long I was more aware of what I was eating, and it gave me pause. Will I become a vegetarian? I don’t know but I am certainly giving it some thought. I am lucky in that I am afforded access and the means to be able to have this as an option. I have already decided to cut down on the amount of meat we consume, which is primarily poultry. I can look to sourcing our meat and animal products from local areas (farms) where I can verify the treatment of the animals. It may not result in my becoming a vegetarian, but it is a start on my journey to a more conscientious approach. I can break some of the habits within my household to ensure that we are more responsible consumers; that we think of non-human animals with respect and consider the moral ethics behind their treatment and consumption.

In an article titled “Why Do We Say ‘Diet CultureInstead of ‘The Patriarchy‘”, Alexis Conason said, “The more marginalized identities you hold, the more oppression you experience, and these are the voices that need to be centered” (Conason, 4). I ask you – Who is the voice of the non-human animals? Who speaks for them? We are what we repeat, so perhaps in my household it is time to shake things up a bit.

The Ocean Is My Place

In order for you to better understand why this is so, I would like to share with you a poem I wrote:

The Ocean Is My Place

The Ocean is my place for it is there I find my heart.

In the everyday life of love and grief, I am enveloped by its strength.

The Ocean is my place for it is there I find my voice.

In the silence of loud voices, I am reassured by its quiet ear.

The Ocean is my place for it is there I find my balance.

In the push and pull of what I should be, I am steadied by the tide.

The Ocean is my place for it is there I find my rest.

In the angst of worry and what if’s, I am rocked to sleep by the sunset.

The Ocean is my place for it is there I find my music.

In the cacophony of dissonant notes, I am comforted by her song.

The Ocean is my home for it there I find myself.

In the crowded streets when I am lost, by the Ocean I am seen.

The ocean has and always will be my place. While I live about 45 minutes away (in the suburbs) from what I have always referred to as “the shore” (Jersey girl here);  it is the place where I find much of who I am.

As a young girl the ocean meant family vacations. It was a place of rest, relaxation, connection, time to play, and regroup. From the beaches along the Jersey shore, down the eastern coast to the Carolinas, as far south as Key West or up to the stunning New England beaches of Massachusetts and the shores of Nantucket Island. The beach has always spoken to me and grounded me. I think of bell hooks when she said, “When we love the Earth, we are able to love ourselves more fully” (hooks, 363). This resonates with me in that it is here that I feel most organic and even childlike in terms of my ability to think and feel with less of a filter. When I was a child, my father would call my sister and I fish as we would stay in the water for hours. Upon return to shore, our hands and feet were pruned and cheeks a bit rosy and salty.

When I look at the ocean, I feel an interconnectedness to not only the earth but to myself. Ever since I was a child, I would sit by the water’s edge and contemplate what I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, and I would compose my dreams and transform them from mere ideas into possibilities. I go there to think. It is why I especially love it in the off-season months. While I appreciate the hustle and bustle of the summer as children giggle and splash, I am able to decompress most when the weather is cooler, and I am wrapped in a blanket. Terry Tempest Williams captured this emotion for me when she said, “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 the planet” (Williams, 16).

I have deep concerns for its ecosystem. I remember back in the 1980’s there was a lot of buzz about the future of our beautiful humpback whales. There have been oil spills (Exxon, BP, and others), the over-fishing that is leading to less and less resources and species of particular fish, the ocean dumping that has created catastrophic damage for which my generation will never see the full repair. I mentioned in one of my previous blogs that during my senior (high school) prom the beaches were closed due to pollution as a result of medical waste dumping. A few of us were thrown in the water (as a joke) and suffered the consequences in the form of rashes that had to be treated with antibiotics. My heart hurt even then to think…. I have this medication that will heal my body… what does the ocean have? What solution could possibly rid it of so much contamination caused by us? It has been assault after assault. Helpless and at our mercy, we show her little grace.

Conversations of conservation and protection come from a soulful place.  It is very personal. It is about mothering the land. It is about giving it back a small piece of what it has given me. It is anything but irrelevant as it is where I find myself, my family, and my sense of community. “Each of us belongs to a particular landscape, one that informs who we are, a place that carries our history, our dreams, holds us to a moral line of behavior that transcends thought” (Williams, 19). About eight weeks before my sister died I took her for a “sisters” day to the beach. We sat in our chairs (it was a chilly but sunny April day) and we talked and talked. We reminisced. We told each other our dreams. We laughed and we cried as she told me some of her wishes.

About four weeks later we headed back down there to a house I rented in order for her to rest and recover from the chemotherapy. She didn’t make it twelve hours there before we had to take her to a hospital where only eleven days later, she would pass away. During those twelve hours at the beach, she sat in her wheelchair on the porch and watched the water. She ate ice cream. We held hands and barely spoke. We knew what was coming but for those moments outside, we were connected to everything and our history was in every moment.  I watched her close her eyes as she breathed in the sea air as a small smile spread over face. She watched the boats come in, bend around the jetty and slowly glide into the harbor as if she was intently listening to a piece of music. It was always our favorite place. It gave to us endlessly. When I think of her in those moments, I think of Barbara Kingslover’s reference, “The window is the world opening into me. I find I don’t look out, so much as it pours in” (Kingslover, 1). To watch her was to know that we need the wild and that in those final days, it was the wild places that brought her so much peace and calmness. It is where I find her even now.

While I cannot stand with my sister in person anymore, I understand what Williams meant when she said, “This is the hope of a bedrock democracy, standing our ground in the places we love, together” (Williams, 19). Through our shared stories and histories, the commonality we share is the very bedrock upon which we can affect change and bring awareness despite our differences. It is where our stories can bring about change by evoking feelings of importance and the need for action.

As this was an especially personal blog, I wanted to share a song that I love by Edie Brickell (& The New Bohemians) called Me By The Sea.

Work Cited:

hooks, bell. Touching the Earth.

Kingslover, Barbara. Knowing Our Place .

Williams, Terry Tempest. “ ‘Home Work’. Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert.” 2002, pp. 3–19.

Ecofeminism – When One Size Does Not Fit All

One Size Fits All by Everyday People CartoonsJust like most things in life, one size does not fit all. Why? The answer is simple, because we are not all the same. We are of different heights, weights, frames, different breast sizes, etc. We can even take this a step further and look at the fact that one article of clothing such as a dress, might work for one woman but not for another for different reasons. Perhaps one woman is a construction worker. A dress would not be functional for her to work in. Perhaps the dress is wool and has long sleeves. This would be great for someone living in a cooler climate but would not be practical (nor comfortable) for a woman living in the south of Florida.

When we look at ecofeminism we should ask ourselves – Does one size fit all? Does the theory behind western ecofeminism apply equally to women in other parts of the world? Is it functional in the same way? In order for it to be a perfect fit, would imply that women everywhere in the world live in the same environmental climate, have the same types of jobs, live in the same political climate, are of the same socioeconomic backgrounds, have the same level and type of education/knowledge, experience the same levels and types of oppression, have the same access to resources, and so on and so forth. As we know, most of these things would vary from country to country. Herein lie both the differences and commonalties found by and between ecofeminism from a Western perspective and a non-Western perspective.

A Western ecofeminist perspective relies heavily on the idea that women and the environment have a shared connection as a result of their oppression which is imposed upon them by a system of patriarchy. Referring back to my previous blog, we examined Hobgood-Oster’s work who said, “Oppression of the natural world and of women by patriarchal power structures must be examined together and neither can be confronted fully” (Hobgood-Oster, 1). Non-Western “Feminist Environmentalism” might agree with some of this but extrapolates further on this idea.  In order to understand the types of oppression and how it shapes women’s relationship with the environment, we must look more closely at aspects of women’s lives in these areas.

Quite often in order to examine women and their relationship with the environment in the Global South (specifically looking at nature and its resources) one must have a working understanding of each entity separately from one another in order to understand how and why they work together. When we look at the poor peasant or rural women of India for example, what are their roles when it comes to specific jobs? In India, it is typical for women to do hard laborious work such as the gathering of wood and fodder for fuel. It was not unusual for women to take part in the cultivation and oversight of their crops. They are also responsible for acquiring water. Would this same statement be true in the Western world with regard to the jobs we associate with the majority of most women? Here we see a difference between the types of jobs or labor that women have in different parts of the world. These jobs lead to different perspectives, connections, and experiences. They result in different types of knowledge.

Let’s look at class systems. When we look at women in India or areas of the Global South in terms of our discussion about ecofeminism, we are looking specifically at poor or rural areas. Typically, we are looking at examples of women in poor economic areas as they are more radically impacted by environmental degradation.  Looking again at the poor peasant/rural women in India, they are most dramatically impacted by de-forestation which has created a shortage of wood and fodder needed for them to heat their homes and cook. They also sell these items and as a result of the lack of resources they have suffered income loss.  Women have to go further and further to gather such items which makes their job harder and decreases the time they have to spend on other jobs like cooking which has led to a decrease in nutrition. This has had a ripple effect on their lives.

Displacement as a result of the continued commercial use of land has weakened women’s ability to network in the way that they are used. It is typical for them to rely on one another for economic and social support and even share labor and knowledge. This form of networking empowers women and strengthens their bargaining power amongst families in their community.

Trees are cut down for timber, waiting to be transported and sold.

(Click image to learn more about deforestation.)

Another way these women have been impacted is water collection which is another job that women take care of. In most of the poor/rural areas they do not have running water. They rely on surface sources for their water such as ponds. Much of the water has been contaminated by pollutants found in the fertilizer and pesticides utilized by the commercial farms. Women are more vulnerable to illness and disease as a result.

Sadly, all of these elements of degradation continue to weaken one of the most important commodities that these women have to offer which is their Indigenous knowledge. Their experience with gathering food, cultivating crops, and their knowledge of other resources, is not being utilized. They have a wealth of information that could be used in conjunction with modern day science to create more long term solutions and sustainable systems.

As you can see, there are many ways in which situational circumstances can give varied experiences. Gender is a defining identifier of ecofeminism but so are other aspects such as class and a person’s politics of location. The politics of location is the way in which a person identifies and why they identify that way which is usually comprised of their experiences.

When looking at the Western and non-western world we can easily see commonalities that women share in terms of their relationship with the environment. Women are disproportionality impacted by certain environmental factors. Many women share the experience of being oppressed (discriminated against) when it comes to having an active role in areas of work, politics, or community life. Many women have the shared experience of giving birth and mothering which provides some (not all) with a sense of connection to one another and nature.

There is something to be said about the idea that women are connected because of their gendered experience and shared oppression, but to say that all women have the same experiences solely based on gender and the oppression that comes with it, is not accurate. To say that all women have the same relationship to the environment based on gender alone is not accurate. I would agree with the work and theory of Bina Agarwal who focuses on how oppression can look in different areas and that environmental degradation affects women differently based upon both gender and class. It goes without saying that women of a lower socioeconomic class system are impacted more  by environmental degradation which is proof of a varying or increased level of oppression than others experience. They are invested in the environment because their survival depends on it.

I think it is critical that women recognize the diversity among women so that we can cultivate and preserve the knowledge that is unique and integral to implementing policy that can create more sustainable systems. As Dr. Shiva stated when speaking about monopolies taking over crops, “That kind of dependency leads to increased poverty and increased ecological destruction” (Shiva & London, 6). She was pointing out that as we lose more and more of our Indigenous knowledge and become more dependent on corporatized agriculture, we not only lose what we had but we become dependent on a system that does not always sustain us or have long-term goals at its heart.

The solutions to sustainability and sustenance lie in the ability to see nature and its resources in their entirety and not simply as a source of one particular thing. Women in the global south understand this because through their culture, knowledge, and lived experience they have learned how to harvest purposefully and with respect to and for the land. They have a relationship with the environment that is unique and based on so much more than gender alone. As Bina Agarwal wrote of the Chipko women and their recognition of the forest and its uses she said, “Although the movement draws upon, indeed is rooted in, the regions Gandhian tradition which predates Chipko, women’s responses to go beyond the framework of that tradition and come close to feminist environmentalism in their perspective. This is suggested by their beginning to confront gender and class issues in a number of small but significant ways” (Agarwal, 148). I think the key there is the phrase “in their perspective” and it is from that – that we can truly examine environmental issues from an intersectional feminist lens. By honoring diversity among women, and not just using gender alone as a category of analysis, we can better capitalize on the unique knowledge we have to lend to environmental issues in order to create change.

The Chakla bavdi of Chanderi
The unique design and functioning of the Chakla bavdi in Chanderi Madhya Pradesh is another example of the water wisdom of our ancestors, which needs to be conserved and passed on to the future generations.


When Ecofeminism Tells A Story – Indigenous Women & The Earth

The relationship between Indigenous women and the Earth is a sacred one. It is truly a beautiful partnership built on mutual respect and trust. Land and water are divine and treated as such. Indigenous women are connected to the Earth in a spiritual way and use every aspect of their interconnectedness to amplify their voices within their communities. The Earth is their life force. It is their food source. (This relationship also applies to animals.) It is their source from which their education about life stems. Visualize a tree. See the roots, the trunk, the branches, the stems, and the leaves. They see that tree as a life force, and they show it the utmost respect as they value their interdependence with it.

Unfortunately, this relationship has been threatened as the result of capitalistic ideology and patriarchal hierarchy. In order to understand why there are issues now, and how these ideologies impacted them, we need to understand the source of the change. Let’s take a brief trip back in history.

Colonial theory bred a very divisive ideology in that it created structure of government and community that was solely based in systems and levels of hierarchy of and between people. They were based upon class, race, gender, religion, education, and so on and so forth. Herein enters the strategy of oppression, exploitation, and intersectional theory circa colonial period. The Indigenous people did not place in that class system whatsoever. We all know the basics of what went down. Those that remained (that survived the genocide) were left to scrounge for whatever scraps that they could which essentially meant that they had to make deals with the colonists. Compromising their own ways, principles, culture, and traditions in order to survive. Suddenly a community of people that previously had little to no level of class structure were grappling with things like money, levels of government within their tribes, and modern ways which created separation and oppression within their own people. How does this all tie into Ecofeminism? “Ecofeminism claims that patriarchal structures justify their dominance through categorical or dualistic hierarchies: heaven/earth, mind/body, male/female, human/animal, spirit/nature, white/non-white” (Hobgood-Oster, 3). These binaries create separation.

Fast forward to today and we can still see this in our post-colonial world having lasting and continued affects on Indigenous people, particularly women. It is not just here in the US where the Indigenous women are experiencing oppression. This is happening in the US, Africa, Canada, India, South America, etc. When we look at the root of the problem, we almost always come back to the same culprit: colonialism.  This is where the theory of Ecofeminism is of vital importance as it examines the relationship between the oppression that women experience in relation to the oppression that nature experiences. Hobgood-Oster said, “Oppression of the natural world and of women by patriarchal power structures must be examined together or neither can be confronted fully” (Hobgood-Oster, 1).

You might wonder, how does the oppression of Indigenous women tie into ecofeminism? How is it that the Earth and their relationship with it is impacted? Consider them parallel to one another; both experiencing oppression simultaneously. The same people that are oppressing the women as a matter of class structure treat the Earth and its resources in much the same way: women as something less than men, the Earth as something less than human. These binary structures have infiltrated and “classed” their identities.  Women’s roles have shifted drastically, and it has resulted in an increase of violence directed at them by men. Ecofeminist theory is critical here because it “replaces hierarchal dualism with radical diversity and relationship” (Hobgood-Oster, Page 3).

This continues now with pipelines (oil industry) in the US and Canada, as well as  Palm oil plantations, and mining in Asia and the Pacific regions.

Violations against collective rights continue everywhere. Land is taken, people are displaced, and livelihood is threatened. All of this industry threatens natural resources. The Indigenous women are fighting back. The pipelines threaten their land and water. It is their belief that water is the giver of life. When you take or threaten their water you are threatening their very life force. You are also threatening their food, transportation, and livelihood.

They are trying to protect the land, its resources, their history, culture, traditions, and spirituality. As a result, they have been the target and victims of horrific violence. As land is pillaged, poisoned, destroyed, and raped for its resources, so are the women of the land.

Click the picture or link below below to learn more about the women who protested at Standing Rock.

LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, founder of the Sacred Stone camp.

As you can clearly see, there is a direct correlation between the value placed on the indigenous women and that of the land. They go hand in hand. It is important to mention that it does not stop them. They continue to organize and fight for their rights and the rights of the land. They are fighting for more than sovereignty – they are fighting to reclaim their land.  In the words of Chelsea Vowel, Metis from manitow-sakahikan, “If all you do is vaguely gesture towards sovereignty, and let settlers believe that land is not ‘on the table’ then you’re reducing it to a metaphor” (Kane & Nguyen, page 1). She is rejecting the binary role she is expected to play in a hierarchal system. She is speaking for herself and for the land. It is her call to action which is also a part of ecofeminism.

When I examine this topic, I am reminded of Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s, Land as pedagogy: Nishnaabeg intelligence and rebellious transformation who uses imagery via a story (“Kwezens makes a lovely discovery”) of a tree being tapped for sap by a young Kwezens woman for the first time. The lessons learned, tradition that is taught, shared, and elevated by the verbal sharing of such a symbolic task, is illustrated throughout her publication. I loved this piece so much when I first read it in one of my college classes, that I emailed it to my mother to share with her. I related to how my mother taught me cooking by doing. Through our sense of smell, sound, and touch I learned and recreated. Respecting the ingredients that we grew in our garden was a huge part of my education. The tomatoes were grown in our garden and from that the sauce was made. My father taught me how to care for the garden and it was my responsibility when he was not home to water it. To take special care in picking the fruit from the vines. The way that your hands smell after you pick them, the warm earth beneath my feet … all of my senses came to life as I read Simpson’s work. The connection I felt when I read this was intense. It was knowledge through experience. She calls it “wearing your teachings or coming to know” (Simpson, 7 & 11).

What is important in Simpson’s article is that she speaks of her current life experiences differently. She is not learning about life in the same way that the girl in the poem is learning. Simpson states, “My experience of education was one of continually being measured against a set of principles that required surrender to an assimilative colonial agenda in order to fulfill those principles” (Simpson, 6). She compares her structured education to that of the past which was through knowledge claims as a result of lived experience. The modern education she was experiencing disengaged her from the natural ways. The tapping of the trees (via current education) was completely modernized. It removed her from the way of learning taught through the rituals of the land and her people.   Hobgood-Oster stated, “Ecofeminism suggests that the antagonism sometimes existing between religion (spirituality) and scientific worldviews has been detrimental, used by both approaches to advance their hierarchal structures” (Hobgood-Oster, 7). For Simpson, the structured education created a separation between herself and her culture and between herself and nature. It was less personal. It was an extraction of her individuality.

Simpson speaks of “coming to know” (learner led and spiritual education) and using the stories laden in tradition to teach future generations. With that gone in modern education, we can see her being stripped of her identity – just as nature is stripped of its soil, its oil, its rock, etc. with modern day industry. Both fell victim to a patriarchal society.  Modern education is one more way that indigenous women are separated from the Earth. She speaks of this clearly when she refers back to the story of Kwezen who is tapping the tree for sap:

“She learned the sheer joy of discovery. She learned how to interact with the spirit of the maple. She learned both from the land and with the land. …She comes to know maple sugar with the support or her family and her Elders. She comes to know maple sugar in the context of love” (Simpson, 7).

Simpsons assessment is profound in its ability to excavate the raw beauty between the relationship of Indigenous women and nature. She is able to capture the essence of what is born of this mutual relationship. To know this is to know what would come from neither having the other. To know this it to know what would come from either being damaged, exploited, treated as “less than”, injured, spoiled, and/or stripped of its identity.

Every time a pipeline goes in, land is excavated, water is contaminated, an assault has been committed against Indigenous women and the land that they love. The patriarchal system has continued to take and take based solely on the premise of greed and privilege. The hierarchical class structure is designed to divide through various levels of oppression which fosters fear, anxiety, depression, famine, poverty, violence, and an overall lack of recognition.

It is important that we educate ourselves about these issues so that we might be the change that is so desperately needed. I will close with this quote from Simpson, “The freedom realized through flight and refusal is the freedom to imagine and create an elsewhere in the here; a present future beyond the imaginative and territorial bounds of colonialism. It is a performance of other worlds, an embodied practice of flight” (Simpson, Page 23).

If you are not already familiar with them, The Indigo Girls are a folk/country/Americana band that has been around for decades. Their advocacy is beyond admirable. Their music often references politics and their concerns with regard to the earth and the Indigenous people. They are HUGE activists. Check out their music and the many groups they support in advocacy.

Here is one of my absolute favorite songs by them called “World Falls“.