Behind the “barbecue and virility” controversy, it is ecofeminism that must be understood

Behind the “barbecue and virility” controversy, it is ecofeminism that must be understood
Behind the “barbecue and virility” controversy, it is ecofeminism that must be understood
Kay Fochtmann/EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm Photo taken in Leipzig, Germany

Kay Fochtmann/EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm

“You have to change your mentality so that eating a steak cooked on a barbecue is no longer a symbol of virility”, the declaration of Sandrine Rousseau who set fire to the powder.

ECOLOGY – It was the controversy of the start of the school year, and yet there was no question of purchasing power, inflation or recruitment in the National Education. No, the subject that kept the political sphere in suspense at the beginning of the week was born from a declaration by Sandrine Rousseau during a round table of the EELV summer days on Saturday August 27. “You have to change your mentality so that eating a steak cooked on a barbecue is no longer a symbol of virility. »

A chain reaction ensued. Fabien Roussel, Éric Ciotti, Nadine Morano, Yannick Jadot or Clémentine Autain contributed their part to the machine by supporting or not the ecofeminist deputy. “We eat meat according to what we have in the wallet, and not according to what we have in our panties or in our underwear”retorted in particular the first secretary of the Communist Party.

Behind its apparent lightness, this subject – men and the barbecue – raises real fundamental questions: that of the link between meat and global warming, and that of the discrepancy in the consumption of meat by women and men. In both cases, there are figures and data that largely support Sandrine Rousseau’s comments.

But, more generally, and to grasp the scope of this debate, it is perhaps necessary to return to the origin of such a position, which is deeply rooted in a recent movement: ecofeminism. Sandrine Rousseau has always claimed this movement: “The idea is to challenge the triptych that currently underpins our society: take, use, throw away. We do this for nature, but also ultimately for women’s bodies, and many other people in society, precarious or vulnerable. This is exactly what we need to reverse! »she explained as soon as the presidential campaign was launched.

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What is ecofeminism?

Ecofeminism is more a movement of thought than a practical trend. It is not so much solutions to the environmental crisis that it offers, but the opportunity to rethink how some of the big problems in this world are more intertwined than we think, and to affirm that women have a great role to play in the fight for the climate.

It was a French writer, Françoise d’Eaubonne, who first introduced this term “ecological feminism” in 1974 for “to draw attention to the potential of women to lead an ecological revolution”, notes the Stanford University Encyclopedia. This concept was originally intended to allow “to explore the nature of the connections between the unjustified dominations over women and nature” and, more generally, to show that patriarchy and capitalism oppress nature as much as women.

“The fundamental thesis of ecofeminism is to maintain that there are inseparable links between the domination of women and the domination of nature, or between ecocidal capitalism and patriarchy. That these are the two facets of the same medal, of the same model of civilization which has imposed itself historically.explains to Slate the professor of philosophy specialist in the subject Jeanne Burgart Goutal.

How was this movement born?

If the concept sprang from a French spirit, the movement was born in the United States and the United Kingdom in the 70s and 80s, in particular through the threat of nuclear war.

America at the end of the 1970s was shaken by several social movements and it was in this context that a convergence of struggles was born between feminists and those among whom an environmental conscience emerged.

“Women involved in the feminist movement and who were linked to other activism, pacifism, the anti-nuclear movement, mobilized on the occasion of nuclear disasters or health scandals linked to the environment, and created the first ecofeminist groups , like Women and life on Earth”underlines Jeanne Burgart Goutal, this time for Usbek & Rica.

In 1980, a key action of this pacifist, anti-nuclear, feminist current was born when 2000 women surrounded the Pentagon and chained themselves to these gates. Some, disguised as witches, even had fun casting spells.

What is the relationship between climate and women’s rights?

One of the strong concepts of ecofeminism is that of “reclaim”which can be defined as a movement of reinvention (of history, of nature) and reappropriation (of what has long been associated only with women).

You should know, first of all, that globally, women are more vulnerable to the consequences of global warming than men. “Droughts, desertification, floods are also so many threats to agricultural activities for which women are mainly responsible, even though in some countries they produce up to 80% of the food. When a natural disaster strikes a region, the risk of death is 14 times higher for women”, according to the UN. the reclaimit is therefore on the one hand to reclaim the place of women in the world.

On the other hand, it is about the attempt to reclaim activities qualified as feminine and all too often denigrated, such as the care given to children, to the body, to food, to the relationship with plants or to sensitivity. “They said that these activities were important human activities, which had been assigned to women and denigrated, but should be allowed to everyone”advances Jeanne Burgart Goutal for Slate.

This part of ecofeminism has not been unanimously accepted, far from it, some feminists wishing, on the contrary, to extract themselves from such a link with nature and in particular with the ability to give birth, which alone does not define them. not.

What problems does this association between feminism and ecology pose?

Putting the future of the planet on the shoulders of women, isn’t that increasing their mental workload? Journalist Nora Bouazzouni, author of Faiminismasks about Slate on the compatibility between feminism and ecology.

She recalls that in addition to being the first victims of global warming, they are also those who, within the homes, have the most mental load. A mental load to which is added, through ecological awareness, a “moral charge”.

“Deciphering labels, hunting down problematic or dangerous ingredients in hygiene, food and household products, ending up making your own deodorant and multi-purpose cleaner, shopping in three different places, sewing or looking for clothes, browsing the web in search of grandmother’s recipes and tips, preparing zero-carbon holidays… All of this represents an increase in the work assigned, once again, to women, time-consuming and mentally and physically exhausting activities, but executed in the name of future generations”she writes among others.

We find, it seems, this same burden concerning the consumption of meat. According to the INCA 3 survey by ANSES, the median consumption of meat (excluding poultry) is 43 grams per day for a man compared to 27 for a woman. And 23.2 grams per day of cold cuts for a man, against 12.9 for a woman.

“Globally, the overwhelming majority of people who follow vegetarian, vegan and vegan diets are women”also recalls Nora Bouazzouni in an article by Reporterre. They represent on average 70% of vegetarians.

Moreover, the link between meat (and more particularly industrial farming) and climate change no longer needs to be proven. According to a British study published in 2021 in the journal Plos One, a meat-free diet emits 59% less greenhouse gases.

With such declarations and coming to hit our habits head-on, Sandrine Rousseau, perhaps does not bring direct solutions to these profound problems, but comes to remind us that politics is also, to use the words of Jeanne Burgart Goutal, “inventing a possible from a situation where nothing seems possible anymore”.

See also on The HuffPost: In 30 years, humanity’s only green feat is linked to your fridge

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The article is in French

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