Posts Tagged ‘Judith Plant’

The “Home” Revolution: Ecofeminism in “California, In-doors and Out”

To the modern mind, Eliza Burhans Farnham epitomizes an ideal ecofeminist in much the way that Judith Plant would outline in her essay on ecofeminism. Farnham espouses the interchangeability of roles for men and women, and that one should not dominate the other.

Farnham believes that for a real shift to occur – to from exploitation to harmony – there must be a shift in morality. She states that “The revolution in progress here at this hour will shortly have inaugurated a new and more hopeful state… the present is a war, not between parties or persons, but between principles of good and evil” (vi). Farnham deeply believes that a revolution in society must grow from the ground up, from deep inner principles out to purposeful action. She believes that a woman-centered society is at the core of this shift, which I will touch on a little later.

What interesting is that Judith Plant declares that ecofeminism “has very much to do with a shift in morality, in the attitudes and behaviors of human beings” (81). This means that the woman being the center of the family is more than a woman just taking a role as the leader of the household, but it is the fact that neither man nor woman dominates the other. It is a matter of a shift in morality, that is the revolution that Farnham is speaking about.

One may ask how to go from the abstract (“revolution in morality!”) to the concrete (“how does this work, right now?”). Both Farnham and Plant establish that the “home” is the nexus where the most change shall occur, and the home is the domain of the woman. Farnham states that “The home, holiest and purest nursery of what is good in the heart, springs up everywhere before woman” (285). Judith Plant echoes this principle: “The real work is at home” (82). Home is where core of a family resides – the principles of love and care and gentleness – and both Farnham and Plant imply that because a woman’s “natural” place is in the home, she has the most power to shift the direction of society.

What I find fascinating, though, is that Farnham glorifies the woman who can do everything a man can do – and a man traditionally does his work outside of the home. Farnham states that “it must not be forgotten that life in California is altogether anomalous, and that it is no more extraordinary for a woman to plough, dig, and hoe with her own hands, if she have the will and strength to do so, than for men to do all their household labor for months, never seeing the face of a woman during that time” (28).  Note that Farnham lists all of the backbreaking work that men traditionally do and juxtaposes this with the household labor of a woman coupled with loneliness – she does not say that one is easier than the other. I believe the emphasis here on Farnham’s ecofeminism is not so much the physical structure of the home, but the principle of “home” – that a family must be rooted in one place long enough to work the land and take care of the family unit.

Plant confirms that “the ecofeminist’s task is one of developing the ability to take the place of the other when considering the consequences of possible actions, and ensuring that we do not forget that we are all part of one another” (80). I find it fascinating that Farnham lives the deeper principle of ecofeminism by adhering to the principle that the man and the woman neither dominate one or the other. Feminism is not about the woman being higher than the man, it is about equality, in whatever role that might be. So yes, the woman is at the heart of the home, and she is still supported and protected by the man. And if the man and woman play musical chairs and switch roles, that is fine, as long as the principle of “home” remains the revolution of morality.

Farhham, Eliza W. California In-Doors and Out; On, How We Farm, Mine, and Live Generally in the Golden States. Ch./ Art: Excerpts p. 28-31, 91-94. Pub. Dix, Edwards & Co 1856

Plant, Judith. Home! A Bioregional Reader.Ch./Art: REvaluing Home: Feminism and Bioregionalism; Searching for Common Ground:
Evofeminism and Bioregionalism p. 21-23, 79-82. pub. New Society Publishers 1990

Judith Plant’s compelling quote!

“What remains valuable in mainstream society, and deep within our beings, has a dollar sign attached to it, and generally has nothing to do with home. In fact, home is more and more being sacrificed for economic ends. What is important goes on in the public sphere- politics and economics- and a person’s worth is gauged in monetary terms. Within this ideology, domestic life has meant that some are subservient to others; traditionally this has been women, as slaves, servants and wives. Children quickly learn that what goes on at home is unimportant compared to the values out there” (Judith Plant 23).

Money is the exchange of paper and coins. The purpose of money is to facilitate the lives of human beings when it comes to complex methods of economic gain to as simple as buying goods.  Barter, which is the method of exchanging or trading one good for another is inefficient because people do not meet eye to eye when trading. For example, I go to the market and I have one chicken. I am in need of vegetables. My neighbor has three pounds of lettuce and broccoli. I say my chicken has more value than three pounds of vegetable, but my neighbor disagrees and therefore we both leave unhappy; unless we compromise. Over the years money has been seen as an “evil” tool to cheat, corrupt, and exploit Earth’s natural resources. According to the Bible, 1 Timothy 6:10, says the root of all evil is the love for money.  Politics is about who get what. Therefore, people who are in love with money may go to extremes as to put a monetary value to life, family, and happiness.

Thinking about the Recession we’ve been in simply surprises me that people will work two or three jobs to pay for their mortgage but do not fight to keep their family, their home in order. I have noticed that the value of human beings has diminished. Yes, women are able to vote and work alongside men. Yes, African Americans are no longer enslaved, and yes, Latinos are allowed to migrate to the most powerful Country, the United Sates. However, my concern goes to those unborn babies. China, for example, has a one child policy. Therefore, males are preferred and when most families find out that they are going to have a female daughter the either abort or give the baby up to adoption. However, what many people do not realize is that most girls and women in Europe and Asia that are left to fend for themselves are sold as sex slaves. Over population is a problem but massacring innocent babies is not the answer… Children are the future and if we don’t pay attention to their input then I think we are headed in a selfish and dangerous direction.

The only solution I see if for individuals who recognize that they have an unhealthy relationship with money, seek help, and then find a way to bless others. I understand that this proposition is easier said than done. However, collectively we all have to make an effort to bring back the value of human beings and the value of “home” and diminish the love for money. Once we die we are not going to take our degree, our property, or the money in our bank account. Judith Plat’s quote is a call to action. Once people see how corrupt the love of money can transform people’s lives in a negative way maybe then will they turn their lives back around!

 

Plant, Judith. Home! A Bioregional Reader.Ch./Art: REvaluing Home: Feminism and Bioregionalism; Searching for Common Ground:
Evofeminism and Bioregionalism p. 21-23, 79-82. pub. New Society Publishers 1990

Complexity in Plant’s Definition of Ecology

“Ecology teaches us that life is in a constant state of change, as species seek ways to fit in particular environments which are, in turn, being shaped by the diversity of life within and around them.” (258)

Although this quote may seem self-explanatory, I find it complex because it can be used for and against environmentalism. If life, and therefore nature, is in a constant state of change then why do many environmentalists struggle to keep things constant: keep animals from becoming extinct, keep the polar ice caps from melting, and keep the oceans clean? Of course, these are extreme examples but they are environmental issues because humans are the ones causing the change. Now, does this change count towards the “constant state of change” Plant describes? Does this constant state of change that life is in only include changes made by nature and outside powers only? Humans are a species and we are just trying to “fit in [the] environments” which we live in; and, as we do so we cause change to happen to that environment—though it may not be positive change. However, does it matter if it is positive or negative change which takes place? If change is inevitable, then it can be argued that the change the world is undergoing is just part of life, and maybe it is meant to happen—far reaching, but true. This quote becomes more complex when we compare it to the statement above it—“Social ecology seeks ways to harmonize human and non-human nature…” (79). The idea of harmonizing our interactions with the non-human nature contradicts the idea of “constant change.” If we are in harmony, then nothing is changing—we are at a perfect state of balance and equality. Also, is not a human part of nature? If we are included in the hierarchy of species then we must be part of nature, so why must there be two types of nature? I believe that the only way to answer any of the above questions is to first determine what Plant includes in her definition of “species” and determine whose “life” is in constant change—our lives and nature’s life or just one of the two. If we decide to argue for the environment, then there should be two types of nature and humans should not be included in the definitions of species in this quote; and, the change that we cause should not be part of the constant change that life undergoes. However, all of this is arbitrary.

Plant, Judith. Home! A Bioregional Reader: Ch./Art: Revaluing Home: Feminism and Bioregionalism; Searching for Common Ground: Ecofeminism and Bioregionalism p. 21-23, 79-82. pub. New Society Publishers 1990

Plant’s Bioregionalism Quote

“Bioregionalism means learning to become native to place, fitting ourselves to a particular place, not fitting a place to our pre-determined tastes. It is living within the limits and the gifts provided by a place, creating a way of life that can be passed on to future generations,” (81).

I found this quote interesting because, it appears, that bioregionalism gives ultimate dominion to “place”. I also like to think of humans appreciating nature in a greater sense. Instead of destroying nature, or manipulating nature to fit our wants and desires, bioregionalism pushes people to find their own place within nature. Becoming “native to place” is pivotal in preserving nature. We must accept nature, and understand that we have all that we need from the landscape. There is no reason to destroy what we have, to attempt to create an environment that fits our desires because we cannot always create what we perceive.

I also like how Plant states how we need to create this brand of living in order to pass on the lifestyle. If we want to preserve the beauty in the world, we must encourage future generations to believe in “bioregionalism”. Obviously, this idea has not been a long-standing theory. I say this because of previous readings and discussions that we have covered so far this semester. During the first stages of colonialism, nature was seen as a never-ending supply of resources. We may have never specifically read those words, but we have definitely seen a trend of overuse. This includes the destruction of the plains and forests, along with the overhunting of buffaloes, among other animals.

I do not believe Plant wants the idea of bioregionalism to localize itself in America. As Earth’s population continues to rise, we must all take responsibility for our actions. This idea does not confine individuals to a particular part of the world, but it causes awareness among people. If we leave our native country, we do not have the right to change another place on what we originally perceived it to be. Plant’s argument is for existing within nature. We cannot consistently fall back on the idea that we have dominion over nature and squeeze out all the “necessities”. We have to accept the natural order of nature, and appreciate “the gifts provided by a place”.

Plant, Judith. Home! A Bioregional Reader. Ch./Art: Revaluing Home: Feminism and Bioregionalism; Searching for Common Ground: Ecofeminism and Bioregionalism p.21-23,79-82.pub. New Society Publishers 1990

Question 3: Plant’s Searching for Common Ground

      One quote that I found surprising from Judith Plant’s essay “Searching For Common Ground: Eco-feminism And Bio-regionalism” was “Just as ecologists have paid critical attention to the attitudes, social structures and rationalizations that have allowed the rape of the earth, so have feminists dug deeply to understand why society has rendered them second class citizens, at best.” (258) The use of the word “rape” I found surprising and somewhat out of place. The action of rape in my opinion is very human oriented. I have never heard the word used towards anything else except someone taking advantage of another person sexually. I do understand the implications of the word regarding human’s actions towards the earth though. Many people do have a superior attitude towards nature, which is often characterized as the innocent, helpless victim of mankind’s abuse that is slowly withering away. Many people are negligent towards nature by taking all of its resources without any concern about the damage they are doing to the different spheres of the earth such as the biosphere, atmosphere, or hydrosphere. Plant’s use of the word rape does embody the poor management of nature by certain people. The humans do what they want without regard of consequences and as long as they get what they want they are satisfied. The use of the word rape also captures her resentment and anger towards those who abuse the earth. She describes the many injustices humans have done to earth such as the change of the perspective of earth. “The earth was seen to be alive, sensitive; it was considered unethical to do violence toward her.” (259) Also, Plant states that “the new image of mastery allowed clearing of forests and the damming and poisoning of rivers.(259) The same injustice, pain, and suffering women undergo when they are taken advantage of sexually, Plant believes the earth suffers too. I understand her point of view, but the use of the word rape to refer to human’s abuse of earth was surprising.

Plant, Judith. Home! A Bioregional Reader. Ch./Art: Revaluing Home: Feminism and Bioregionalism; Searching for Common Ground: Ecofeminism and Bioregionalism p.21-23,79-82.pub. New Society Publishers 1990

L.H. Sigourney: An Ecofeminist Perspective

In L.H. Sigourney’s poem “Fallen Forests,” I found many elements that aligned with the ideals of the ecofeminist perspectives we read in the Judith Plant essays for this week. In her essays, Plant states: “Life struggles in nature… become feminist issues within the ecofeminist perspective. Once we understand the historical connections between women and nature and their subsequent oppression, we cannot help but take a stand on the war against nature” (Plant, 80). I found that quote to encompass a lot of what Sigourney was trying to argue within “Fallen Forests.”

For example, line one of Sigourney’s poem states: “Man’s warfare on the trees is terrible” (Sigourney, 117). This statement could not be more blatant or upfront; she goes on to describe how the tree-cutting practices of the time are truly ruining nature, and if Americans are not more careful, the damage will be irreparable. Although when she says “man,” this could be taken to mean both males and females, throughout the poem there are images conjured of lumber jacks and laborers working hard to wreck the natural environment. These images, of course, correspond to the traditional ideals of men “out in the fields” with women staying in the home. This idea directly intertwines itself with Plant’s statement above. In this way, Sigourney’s poem not only calls out the American practice of tree-cutting (and its subsequent harms to the environment) but makes a statement against the male dominated world she, as a woman, lives in.

Sigourney does not shy away from making these remarks bold and direct; she even relies on some emotional appeals to impress upon her readers how dire this situation is. On page 118, Sigourney states: “neither he, nor… his children’s children, shall behold what he hath swept away” (Sigourney, 118). This, coupled with the last line of the poem that describes the irrevocability of man’s actions, leaves a clear statement in the reader’s mind. If nothing changes, nature will be damaged for all time. The true cleverness of Sigourney’s statement, though, lies in the fact that she is able to effortlessly tie in a complementary argument- advocating for women’s rights, as well as nature’s.

 

Plant, Judith. Home! A Bioregional Reader.Ch./Art: REvaluing Home: Feminism and Bioregionalism; Searching for Common Ground:
Evofeminism and Bioregionalism p. 21-23, 79-82. pub. New Society Publishers 1990

Sigourney, L.H. Scenes in My Native Land. Ch./Art: Excerpts p. 117-132. pub. James Munroe and Company 1845