Ecofeminism posits that there is an inherent relationship between capitalist patriarchy, the destruction of the environment, and the oppression of women. The violence of empire, the theory suggests, is rooted in the same logic that produces physical and sexual violence against women. Thus, in our fight to protect the earth’s natural resources, we must abandon masculine ideals in our food and energy production and embrace what feminist scholar and activist, Vandana Shiva, has called “the feminine principal.” Conversely, an alternative feminist counterpoint to this idea claims that ecofeminism is inherently sexist and conservative in it’s suggestion that women’s bodies and lived experiences are somehow closer to the earth; aka we are just a bunch of Mother Natures.
In this Olio, we will take on this debate by situating these questions in a specific historical context: the cultural collision between Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans that occurred in the British colonies of the early 17th Century. By examining how various cultures organized the gendered labor of food production, we will wrestle deeply with the question: In naming our planet Mother Earth, are we empowering women? Or are we in fact naturalizing and justifying the exploitation of women’s bodies?