Last year, in the same period, when I was doing a research internship in Mexico, I wrote an article called Ecofeminism in 2019. I wanted to post a blog ‘ecofeminism in 2020′, just before international woman’s day, but last two weeks have been stressful and I did not feel writing blogs, but just go walking … a lot. Mid-February I left Japan to find some healing time in Scotland’s nature and my tribe in Belgium, look up elder wise women and young female friends. The day before international women’s day I was guiding a forest therapy session for two of my eldest friends, and I participate in an action of the health insurance provider 30-30 to be outside for at least 30 minutes for 30 days. In late winter hiking through muddy and swampy areas has its thing. You’re really forced to step slower, look down and think about every step. Something I don’t do that enough. Slowing down before it is too late. Even in these times the corona crisis forces you to go slower, to look at the processes of decay and uncertainty and to go further, step by step, cautiously. As an ecofeminist I read other ecofeminists’ work about feeling ‘comfortable’ with the uncomfortable. I feel very uncomfortable, but I also feel I am getting, step by step, more comfortable into this. But sometimes it also goes back. Like this morning I cried a bit. And I think it is ok. It is healthy to cry. I also start to lose track of time. This is becoming a very liminal space, and I am going deeper and deeper into the wild world, the underworld, and that can be visionary, but can also let you panic.
I feel like this girl in a drawing I see always circulating in times of winter solstice. I am hidden in a hole and wait, but also find time to dream and sleep, and to create new ideas and projects while I am sleeping. I feel I have not respected the winter, by working hard on my PhD and being disconnected from my tribe, so I pay the price. In this blog, I like to share 3 texts by people I consider as ecofeminists, to give some hope in this special time, and my own reflections as an ecofeminist on this whole ‘crisis’ or ‘katharsis’.
Lockdown, by Kitty O’Meara
“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
“And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
“And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
WORKING FROM THE LOCKDOWN, by Kathryn Sheridan
“There’s a reason you can’t focus on work.
You know what it is.
Deep down you know.
Through fire and flood.
Bombs and military on the streets.
Refugees in the park. Frozen babies.
It has been there all this time.
You’ve become so good.
At ignoring it.
Pushing it down with shiny stuff.
Cardboard boxes from Amazon.
Netflix and the patriarchy.
More and more colonial greed.
The pandemic sheds new light.
As if fire and flood were not enough.
To allow you to feel.
Feel the screaming inside.
The voice saying no, this is wrong.
No, this is broken.
I don’t want any part of it.”
3. Ecofeminist reflections
As I wrote in my post last year Ecofeminism in 2019, the term “ecofeminism” is coined in 1974 by Francoise d’Eaubonne in “Le Feminisme ou La Mort” and used afterwards in the context of actions and activities by women against environmental destruction and disasters in the seventies and against the development of technologies, especially weapon technology, and bio-engineering, and in 1980 during the Amherst Conference which had the title “Women and Life on Earth”, where they saw the “liberation of women as part of a bigger fight for the conservation of life on earth”. (Van de Ven, 1996, Van de Ven, 2015). It has not really a definition. How I see it, ecofeminism is the antidialogue of patriarchy’s control over women and nature, delivering the stories which are unheard, or even silenced, the stories of women and the more-than-human-world. As ecofeminist Sharon Blackie, in ‘If Women Rose Rooted: A Journey to Authenticity and Beloning’ wrote, ‘to change the world we women need first to change ourselves and then we need to change the stories we tell about who we are.‘ But that is not going to be easy. Retelling old stories and creating new stories to challenge the current economic thinking requires courage and strength. It is going to be uncomfortable and inconvenient. The two texts above express this well. We feel the friction that appears by entering and staying in this liminal phase.
We witness that the people in the caring economy are at the frontline of this invisible war. Nurses, doctors, but also people in supermarkets, cleaners (like my mother), post delivers (like my dad), factory workers (like my brother)… They keep the economy running, providing the services people need, taking care of other’s people health, cleanliness and food… but they also get exposed, while others have the comfort to stay and/or work at home (like me). I hope that they will find have time to rest, but also get more rewards and respect than others whose job does not really contribute that much to the economy.
We start to see the silver linings of the industrial shutdowns, reduction of airplane and other traffic. Apparently, the air in China, Northern Italy and water in Venice is getting more clean. But we also read news about plans of China to even weaken environmental regulations to get the economy started. Ironically, in the same ‘breath’ I see this headline, I see another headline telling that citizens in the most air-polluted cities are suspected to be the biggest victims. I read articles about the link between meat markets and this disease (and some other diseases), and the call to limit illegal wild trade, or even reduce meat production.
And we go more outside, and start to see more. On March 13th, Belgium did the first measures toward a lockdown (today we are in a soft lockdown, and not fully lockdown). So I woke up before sunrise and went walking alone for 8 hours in the forests of my village. Very slow with many breaks (for drawing and writing), and my essential stuff at my back. And I watched for a halfhour a snail and just tried to embrace things will go slow now. #Snailwisdom
4. Our planet cannot breathe – by Vero Nika
“It has been a while since we knew that our planet cannot breathe. That it will catch up with us eventually if we don’ t change our habits. That we will use up all the resources and destroy the intricate equilibrium of our natural world. That we will destroy our home. We have ignored it, living our lives among more and more superficial things, building toxic relations, working in companies that only care for profit, only caring for our own profit ourselves, to buy more superficial things and only create more emptiness deep within ourselves.
Then this happened.
Now we are, or are about to be, back home with ourselves, isolated, distanced, limited, without any possible distractions that we worked so hard to afford, and that keep us away from who we really are and how we really feel about our lives. For a month.
This month will pass and we will be “free” again to go back to “normal.” But what if we listen to this invitation of our mother Earth and understand that all she does is giving us, in a clear, a bit harsh, but maybe a little bit deserved slap, a taste of what she lives every single day, with all of her millions cells being damaged and hurt by us, her children. We can’t breathe with this disease neither now…
We humans can heal, the chances are pretty good for a healthy individual. But how healthy is our planet today? Will she survive this? Can we still save her? Or at least let her save herself? Can we put a mask on enough of her cells to protect her? Does it make sense to protect her face if her feet and hands get infected?
So many questions as I see individuals coming up with incredible generous ideas how to help, while companies of the current system struggle to minimise their potential loss, regardless of the people who built their wealth day by day, forgetting their own dreams, talents, and potential, on the road to the next month’s payslip, that will sure pay for that plane ticket to the next holiday we will treat ourself to, to forget how miserable we really feel, disconnected from ourselves.
Will we go back into that world in a month? Or will we take this month to step back and see what really is inside of each of us, what makes us vibrate.
As our world is shutting down, factory by factory, shop by shop, office by office, the Earth can breath better, the air is cleaner and colours more vibrant suddenly. The change is so quick and so obvious that it is truly unbelievable. And so can we, breathe better, because the only place we are allowed to go is Nature.
Is this really a quarantine or was our life before today a quarantine we only noticed today?
Maybe we can take the opportunity, a chance in fact, and breathe in, with our hearts, the uniquely clean air of the moment, this very special moment when everything can change, and from now on just be… be our humble, true, open, loving, connected, unique, naturally brilliant self ?
Then, with this new perspective, what are we going to do about the Earth 🌍 ? Could then come the time when we will have so many genuinely brilliant ideas that any destructive approach will be quarantined till healed?”
5. An invitation of this winter
For the ones who are home, have to be in a cave, like me, this is perhaps the time to dream, create plans and ideas for a more resilient world, where we are more organised for more disasters like this. Perhaps this is not a crisis, but a katharsis, preparing us to go in a better version of ourselves and the world. What do you feel?