Feminist Friday: Environmental Justice 101 and Ecofeminism

Environmental Justice.

… the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies … It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

From the EPA website

Environmental justice is an incredibly important issue; with climate change impacted different environments, natural disasters causing serious damage to many communities all over the world, and clean water becoming more scarce, serious and sustainable solutions to environmental issues need to be implemented. Plastic is killing wildlife and completely changing the oceans, especially the Pacific Ocean with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The National Geographic wrote that the Garbage Patch wasn’t really what most people might immediately think:

For many people, the idea of a “garbage patch” conjures up images of an island of trash floating on the ocean. In reality, these patches are almost entirely made up of tiny bits of plastic, called microplastics. Microplastics can’t always be seen by the naked eye. Even satellite imagery doesn’t show a giant patch of garbage. The microplastics of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch can simply make the water look like a cloudy soup. This soup is intermixed with larger items, such as fishing gear and shoes.
The seafloor beneath the Great Pacific Garbage Patch may also be an underwater trash heap. Oceanographers and ecologists recently discovered that about 70% of marine debris actually sinks to the bottom of the ocean.


I just saw (and recommend seeing) the documentary Plastic Paradise, which covers the history of manufacturing plastic, the forces behind them, and the impact that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is having on the ocean and wildlife within it. Animals are eating the plastic and dying because of the trash put there by humans.

Growing forests and farms in sustainable ways can also help stop desertification and deforestation happening around the world. Yacouba Sawadogo has done amazing work in northern Burkina Faso since 1980 by reviving an old African technique called zai and has revived acres and acres of forest with numerous species of trees.

Other environmental justice issues include:

  • Air – pollution, greenhouse gases, acid rain
  • Climate Change
  • Emergencies – natural disasters, hazardous substances spills
  • Land and clean ups – super funds, brown fields, landfills
  • Pesticides, chemicals, toxics
  • Waste – garbage, hazardous waste
  • Water – wetlands, oceans, estuaries, watersheds, drinking water
  • Energy – oil, coal, etc

In a photography series titled “Futuristic Archaeology,” Daesung Lee captured the impending desertification of Mongolia. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy ranked the 10 best and 10 worst states in the US for clean energy last October. Andy Keller, an environmental activist, created the Bag Monster – a monster completely made of the single use plastic shopping bags – to highlight the waste and damages that come from those bags.

Other advocacy approaches include:

  • Political and legal channels
    • Political advocacy
    • Litigation
    • Electoral politics (voting)
  • Direct Appeal to the public
    • Public education
    • Direct action
    • Media events
    • Community organizing


Combining the words ecology and feminism, ecofeminism embraces the idea that the oppression of women and the oppression or destruction of nature are closely connected. Elements of the feminist movement, the peace movement and the environmentalist and green movements can be seen in ecofeminism.

Winifred Fordham Metz

Environmental justice and feminism are two philosophies that in my opinion, should often go hand in hand and ecofeminism is that center between the two. Offering women around the world access to birth control/family planning, education, and jobs can help lower the global population/large family sizes and climate change. Women are also a big number of farmers and agricultural workers, especially in developing countries, but own only a fraction of the land and wealth.

Some resources include:

  • Women and Life on Earth
  • The Green Fuse: Ecofeminism
  • How Ecofeminism Works – How Stuff Works
  • What is Eco-Feminism? – Everyday Feminism

And it’s of course important to see the racist and capitalist nature behind the driving forces destroying the earth. People of color are often disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards, often described as environmental racism. Greed from corporations raking in millions and billions of dollars also creates an industry that causes significant landfill waste and damage to the environment.

I could easily continue to rant and rant about environmental issues and will write more in the future. But for now, I’ll leave it here with the motto: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Sense of Worth Being Unemployed, Fat, and Queer in a Capitalistic Society

Being unemployed for the last few months has really messed with my sense of worth. With no job and no regular income, I feel exceptionally worthless and unproductive. I’m just starting to deal with my anxiety and depression, making many jobs difficult. Currently, I irregularly walk dogs for different family friends and I honestly love it. It’s not a steady income with regular hours but it’s a job that I really love doing regardless. I don’t have to conform to corporate dress codes or work weird shifts or constantly interact with people (which is really difficult for me). Having depression and anxiety (and being an introvert) make it really hard for me to not only interact with a wide range of people for an extended period but also makes productivity a fleeting thing in my life.

And then there’s the fact that I am fat, something that my parents and the rest of society negatively reiterate almost every day. Diet culture and societal pressure to be thin upholds capitalism, something that Melissa A Fabello describes in a video for Everyday Feminism (transcript is available). As Fabello describes it:

And so who wins when you repeat this [diet] pattern over and over and over again? The diet industry. The beauty industry. The fashion and cosmetic surgery industry. Media and advertising. All of the people who convinced you that your body was wrong in the first place are the ones profiting off of that low self-esteem. We’ve been socialized since birth to believe that the way our bodies look will tie directly into how we experience our lives. We think we’re unhappy because we don’t look good. But the truth is that we’re unhappy because consumerism needs us to be.

Capitalism and so many industries (like the beauty and fashion industry) profit off of the self hate they’re created in so many people. Because who would buy diet related things if we weren’t constantly inundated with messages that we should all be thin and general messages of fatphobia? In a different article, Golda Poretsky breaks down the desire to be thinner and writes that:

The desire to be thin is so ingrained in our culture (thanks, $58.6 billion diet industry) that we don’t often ask the question, “Why do you want to be thin?” But what does being thin really mean?  What would being thin mean to you? People often talk about thinness and the desire for thinness as a given.

I wrote a few months ago about my experiences of being fat and since then, I’ve lost roughly 35 pounds. My weight is something I now obsess over, it’s something that is consistently and negatively shoved into my face from so many places. Ads for weight loss are on all the time between the radio and television it seems like and going shopping is a nightmare. Knowing that there are corporations and businesses making billions of dollars on the self hate society is shoving down the throats of so many only makes things worse.

And then there’s the mass producing of heteronormativity within our capitalistic society. Kelsey Lueptow points out the ways in which television, magazines, and other media reinforce the heteronormative culture that exists. She writes about lady magazines for example, saying that:

The reason mainstream ladies’ magazines focus solely on heterosexual relationships and try to focus on a certain single male identity is because it is cheaper. It is cheaper – and easier, for that matter – to produce content of a very specific mold than to acknowledge how amazingly diverse the sexuality of young women actually is.

Of course, all of this really only highlights my own experiences of being unemployed, fat, and queer within our capitalistic society. There’s so much more wrong with how capitalism pushes for oppressive structures within our society. Low wage workers are often consistently devalued, made to work for wages that barely cover the necessities. Loopholes allow for billion dollar corporations to take advantage of not only their workers but of the environment and earth for their greed and benefit.

Media Monday: Criticisms and Being a Fan of Problematic Media

Trying to find media that isn’t problematic in some way can be difficult to find, particularly in any mainstream media. So for this week, I’ll be addressing some of the problematic aspects and different critiques of different things in the media. All of which are pretty nerdy and I would apologize for that but I’m definitely not sorry for it. (And some of the critiques will contain some general spoilers, just as a heads up.)

*This also ended up being so long with just two things so for now, I’m just going to stick with the two shows below.

The 2005 Reboot of Doctor Who

I only recently (in the scheme of things) started watching the new reboot of Doctor Who but I was instantly hooked after watching the first episode. However, the more I watched and the more the series progressed (particularly the last couple seasons under Steven Moffat), the more I realized how problematic the show is. There’s a tumblr called stfu-moffat that highlights some of the problems not only with Moffat’s work (and the man himself) but in other types of media as well. That same tumblr also has a list of problematic stuff from Doctor Who.

There was a university study done on the sexism within Doctor Who, highlighting the fact that under Moffat’s run, the show has been signficantly less likely to pass the Bechdal Test (and the writing is so poorly done). Characters in the earlier seasons are much more developed and actual characters than others later on. With Rose, Martha, and Donna, you get to know them as characters during their time. We met their families, they argue with the Doctor, we learn about their past. They have depth and yes they’re not perfect but they are characters filled with humanity and richness and equals to the Doctor.  Martha constantly proves her worth to be a companion to the doctor and to be a licensed badass in her own right. Donna is stubborn, opinionated, and constantly argues for the good to come from the Doctor.

But then we get to Amy Pond and River Song, both characters that revolve around the Doctor and his world. We know almost nothing about Amy, especially about anything other than Rory and the Doctor. Her stories all pertain to deciding between the two or are exceptionally defined by either and there’s not much to her outside the two of them. (And the entire story line about her pregnancy is so fucked up.) And while River is a stereotypical female badass, there’s not much to her either. All of her stories center on the Doctor in some way.

(Okay at this point, I’ve linked to the stfu-moffat tumblr several times… Really recommend reading through it. There are a lot of really good points about the direction that Doctor Who has gone since Moffat took over in 2010.)

There’s a list of some great feminist moments in Doctor Who, all of which I just love and are just a few in the series. That list was made by the tumblr Feminist Whoniverse, which reading through the first page or so, I like so far! There’s another tumblr called Whovian Feminism that I’ve seen around. Gah, there are so many really great reviews of the revived series of Doctor Who out there but I’ve rambled enough for now.

Welcome to Night Vale

I wrote about Welcome to Night Vale last week when I wrote about some of the podcasts I listen to and since then, I’ve read some critiques of the show, particularly regarding the Apache Tracker story arc and the creators’ complete dismissal of pretty much all critiques. A lot of the critique with this part of the podcast/Night Vale universe  that I have read (but are not the only ones) comes from idkunicornthings on tumblr, who has made it exceptionally clear that they do not want to engage with white WTNV fans so if you fall into that category, talk to me. Not them. There is one post that describes what initially happened but they also have many posts in their tag “the apache tracker saga” that highlights what happened, how the creators completely shut down any sort of discussion, and other things. Really recommend reading through those posts.

One HUGE issue with this whole thing (other than the problematic nature of how the story arc and character were written) was Joseph Fink’s response to the criticisms. He was incredibly dismissive of any criticism, especially from PoC fans, AND completely shut down any chance of a further discussion. That’s so frustrating to hear, especially since he presents himself (whether he does so intentionally or not) as this quirky anti-racist white person.

In the end, I constantly struggle with so many of the problematic aspects of the things I have some interest in. But being critical and being a fan should not be mutually exclusive – loving something in the media should not mean you accept every piece of it at face value with no critical analysis and accountability. Calling out bullshit and holding others accountable to their problematic behavior shouldn’t make you any less of a fan of something.

At the same time, I also struggle with still being a fan of problematic things and with the question of whether it’s okay as an activist/feminist to continue being a fan of problematic media. To be really honest, I don’t really have a definite answer to that. I do think it’s exceptionally important to critically analyze any type of media, particularly if you are a fan of it, and to hold creators of media (particularly creators of mainstream media) accountable to the bullshit they produce. There’s a post from the Social Justice League that discusses being a fan of problematic things and brings up some really good points, particularly to not excuse problematic aspects and natures of different things you might be a fan of. I also think it’s important to hold the creators/show runners of popular shows/media (like Steven Moffat and Joseph Fink) accountable to their fans and the mistakes they make.

Feminist Friday: Violence against Trans Women

A few months ago, I wrote about intersectionality and included a PDF of the research that I did for a class during my senior year of university, in which I found academic research that trans women of color are significantly more likely to experience violence than other identities of the LGBTQ+ community. (Most of that research came from a report done by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.) And with only a month and a half into 2015, this year has unfortunately continued the harsh trend of violence towards trans women.

There were Valentine’s Day protests that focused on the violence addressing the violence against trans women of color (particularly black trans women) in several cities, including:

  • St. Louis, MO
  • Oakland, CA (#Love4QTPOC)

Janet Mock also wrote a piece on her site where she writes about the visibility of trans women of color in the wake of 6 murders of trans women in 2015. There’s a different piece on The Root that acknowledges the fact that the disproportionate violence against trans women goes largely ignored. Princess Harmony Rodriguez wrote a piece for Black Girl Dangerous titled “Whose Lives Matter?: Trans Women of Color and Police Violence”.

And there are so many issues that come into play with this, including:

  • Homeless shelters can be unsafe for trans people experiencing homelessness and finding a place to live can be difficult as well. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has a guide to transitioning homeless shelters.
  • Sex work. Janet Mock wrote about her experiences in sex work in her book, Redefining Realness, and in a piece on her website, including that:
    • Sex work is heavily stigmatized, whether one goes into it by choice, coercion or circumstance. Sex workers are often dismissed, causing even the most liberal folk, to dehumanize, devalue and demean women who are engaged in the sex trades. This pervasive dehumanization of women in the sex trades leads many to ignore the silencing, brutality, policing, criminalization and violence sex workers face, even blaming them for being utterly damaged, promiscuous, and unworthy. So because I learned that sex work is shameful, and I correlated trans womanhood and sex work, I was taught that trans womanhood is shameful. This belief system served as the base of my understanding of self as a trans girl, and I couldn’t separate it from my own body image issues, my sense of self, my internalized shame about being trans, brown, poor, young, woman.

It’s so important to start addressing the violence that trans women are facing in society today. And to be an ally to the trans community (particularly trans women of color), it’s also important to realize that being an ally isn’t an identity but constantly acting in solidarity. There are organizations that need support, including the Trans Women of Color Collective, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, The Leelah Project, and so many more.

Media Monday: Podcasts

I love podcasts, partly because being an introvert with anxiety and depression means getting out of the house and interacting with others for extended periods of time can be really overwhelming. But also because there are so many podcasts that cover so many topics and interests that I usually end up learning a lot by listening. So for this Media Monday, here are some of my favorites.

  • Welcome to Night Vale: This is an twice a month podcast with community updates from the fictional (and strange) desert town of Night Vale. It’s told through a radio show, narrated by the character Cecil Palmer. There are announcements from the Sheriff’s secret police, mysterious hooded figures, angels, science, cultural events, sports, anything you might imagine for a community radio show (just a little weird).
    • I started listening to Welcome to Night Vale around a year and a half ago and was immediately hooked. It’s weird, spooky, Twilight Zone like, and is well written.
    • EDIT (Feb. 18th): Started reading some critiques of one of the WTNV character’s story arc (the Apache Tracker really) and realized how problematic and racist the entire thing was. And a big problem seems (to me) to be the fact that the creators (one in particular) are both white men and completely unwilling to have a discussion about what was wrong about that story line and character. There have been a few people to try to talk to them but the creators seem to continuously shut down the conversation, even though they seem to be adamant about being anti-racist.  I’m exceptionally disappointed in the creators for this.
      • Currently planning on writing up another post with more information (particularly some of the points of how the Apache Tracker story is problematic/racist) in the next couple days. Just want to make sure I get everything right…. And will probably email the creators with that as well.
  • Stuff You Should Know and Stuff You Missed in History Class: Both of these podcasts come from the website How Stuff Works and are incredibly informative and educational. They cover a wide range of topics, usually covering one topic in a single episode, with the occasional two part topic. I’ve been listening to both of these podcasts off and on for a few years, usually just listening to the topics I find interesting. (I just listening to the SYSK one on Charles Darwin and really liked it!)
  • Women of Marvel: I just recently found this one and started listening to it but so far, I really love it. A lot of the episodes (that I’ve listened to) have been discussing what working at Marvel is like, discussing different female characters in the Marvel universe, and there was an entire episode about San Diego Comic Con and cosplay (which I loved listening to!). I’m just starting to really get into the Marvel universe by watching the recent movies (Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers, etc) and television shows (Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) but listening to this podcast is really making me want to pick up some of the comic books.
  • We Want the Airwaves: This podcast is hosted by Nia King and each episode is an interview of different queer and trans artists (usually people of color as well). King’s own description of the podcast is: “Nia King’s trying to figure out if her dream of making a living as an art activist is beyond reach. In this podcast, she seeks advice from other political queer artists, trans artists, and artists of color who seem to have figured out how to make art and make rent without compromising their values.”
  • Gendercast: This podcast hasn’t really been updated recently but the past episodes are still really good. It’s hosted by Sean and Jesse and “is a podcast exploration of gender and what is means to live in, challenge and exist beyond the binary. It is a conversation between all those who identify along the transmasculine spectrum and our allies and supporters. It is a commentary on our culture and a reflection on where we have come from and where we are headed.”

Feminist Friday: Vulnerability

Roughly two years ago (almost to the day now that I think about it), I was involved in a student movement on my university campus surrounding legal rights for the LGBTQ+ members of the community. Because the university was Catholic (like, extremely so), there were so many complications and microaggressions that often made many LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff feel slightly unwelcome. A few comments one night from the university president that alluded to the “don’t ask don’t tell” tone of the campus ignited the movement into a semester long call for legal protection and inclusion of the marginalized community.

At the beginning of the movement and shortly after the president made his remarks, I wrote an open letter to him on a now nonexistent blog. I wrote about how as a queer student, I often felt unsupported, alienated, and unwelcome by the administration and most of the school. I loved the school, from the soccer team, location, social justice, and so much more but it often felt like the school just hated me in return. This open letter was written in frustration and late at night. I opened myself up and was vulnerable, not thinking about what would happen in the future.

Over the course of the next few weeks, that letter was read and shared hundreds of times. Friends from the university shared and reshared the post on Facebook and an edited version ended up in the student newspaper later that week. So much of the feedback I received from friends and random faces was positive but through it, I had unintentionally become one of the leaders for the movement from this post.

To make an already long story a little shorter, the next couple months ended up being incredibly emotionally taxing. I wasn’t sleeping very well, barely eating, and generally not taking care of myself as I worked with other students attempting to get legal protections added for the LGBTQ+ community on campus. I was constantly vulnerable, opening myself up to friends and strangers in the hopes that my story of pain could help strength the community to be better.

And while legal protections for sexual orientation (but sadly not gender identity) were added to the university’s policy a few months after the movement, I was left to pick up the broken pieces of myself. By consistently putting myself in vulnerable position with no chance for self care, I completely broke myself down and was utterly burnt out. In the midst of all the positive feedback, I was also critiqued, bullied, and intimidated and with an ever shrinking support system and an increasing amount of limelight, I had no idea what to do.

The point of this post was to talk about how vulnerability can be incredibly amazing but learning from my own mistakes, I realize that vulnerability on a larger scale should go hand and hand with self care. Being open and vulnerable can help to create community and deep connections with others but it could very easily destroy someone. So it’s important to take care of yourself in whatever way you accomplish that.

I also write this as someone who is incredibly privileged in so many ways – being vulnerable never meant I feared for my physical safety. I’ve never worried that I’d be disowned from my family and close friends or that I would be in a dangerous position if I shared my story.

And while it’s been two years after this movement and I’m still trying to pick up the pieces of myself, it was through being vulnerable that I learned a lot about myself and activism. I learned about how there were others who went through similar experiences of microaggressions for not only their sexual orientation and gender identity but also for their race, ethnicity, disabilities, etc. It was through this that I learned so much about myself, about activism, about those around me.

Being vulnerable allowed me the space to grow and learn from the mistakes I made and hopefully become a better person for it. But it was also being vulnerable that let me know that activism and the fight for justice cannot be done alone – community is so incredibly important.

Update and Changes

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about where I would like this blog to go and what I’m doing with my time. Since graduating last May, I’ve had a lot more time on my hands and a lot fewer opportunities to write. And over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about what types of things I want to write about here.

Obviously I’ll still be writing about social justice and having this blog still be a collection of social justice articles, videos, books, etc. Writing about gender, race, privilege, etc etc is definitely something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to walk away from. But I’ve also been thinking about branching out a little more and writing about other things as well.

I’m still working out how things will go but so far, I’m going to start doing a semi regular series on Fridays called Feminist Fridays, where I write about feminist and activist issues. Sometimes this will be me writing about my own experiences in a feminist lens; other times, I’ll have posts similar to the ones I’ve already done.

I’ll also be doing another semi regular series called Media Mondays (which I started last Monday as Movie Monday). But during that time I’ll be writing about different media related things like movie/book reviews, podcasts I like, magazines, comics, cosplays I’m thinking of doing, etc.

And I’ll be writing other posts here and there that don’t fall into those two categories. I’m hoping to post at least once a week, if not more. I’ll definitely be posting at least one Media Monday and Feminist Friday a month (depending on my schedule, I’m hoping for more).

Basically, I’m going to still write about social justice issues but will also start writing about the other things I’m passionate about. And honestly, I’m kind of making this all up as I go so I’m sure things will morph and change as I go. But for now, that’s the plan.