Vagina Warriors raise awareness on eco-feminism

Elisse Lorenc

Eco-feminism fights against oppression of women, class, race and nature, but just because the movement fights for women’s rights, that does not make it a gender-exclusive movement. Whether students are familiar with eco-feminism, the Vagina Warriors or both, eco-feminism is a movement that includes other forms of oppression besides women and nature.

“If you really look into the environmental movement, you’ll realize that it’s a social movement, and it’s very affected by class,” said Abigail Barefoot, senior in journalism and mass communication and member of the Vagina Warriors. “If you look at where toxic waste dumps are and where resources are being tainted … it’s usually around poor, less affluent communities who don’t have the time, money or the resources sometimes to stand up against the people that are doing all this damage.”

“For progress to be made, the eco-feminist movement absolutely must engage men. Both men and women are subject to gender roles prescribed by society,” said Ahna Kruzic, senior in sociology and member of the Vagina Warriors. “The responsibility is on all of us. Room must be made for men to do this; we have to change our ideas of what it means to be masculine. Rape won’t stop, extinction won’t stop, climate change won’t stop until the definition of masculinity is no longer ‘anything but the feminine.'”

Feminist movements picked up activity between the ’70s and ’80s, when the women’s liberation movement was taking place, following the civil rights movement in the ’60s.

But does eco-feminism include more than social and environmental activism?

“There’s so many branches of [eco-feminism],” said Betty Wells, professor of sociology. “There’s a branch of eco-feminism that’s very literary and artistic; there’s a spiritual eco-feminism that looks at how women have been subjugated in the monotheistic religions.”

There are several definitions and intentions for eco-feminism.  The Vagina Warriors hope to help clarify that with their upcoming magazine What the E.F.?.

“The zine is a compilation of works submitted from across the campus and ISU community that creatively illustrates people’s representations of environmental and gender oppression,” Kruzic said. “The zine is meant to raise awareness and get the conversation started.  Iowa State, as a university of innovation and brilliance, has got to start the conversation somewhere.”

The student organization hopes to get the zine published the week of or after Veishea.

What the E.F.? is just one of the group’s efforts toward promoting awareness of eco-feminism and women’s rights. 

“Take Back the Night” is a rally the Vagina Warriors will be participating in this April to promote awareness of sexual assault.

“The Clothesline Project” is another event taking place during April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, presenting a visual display of T-shirts designed by victims and the friends and family of victims to address the issue of violence against women.

“The Vagina Monologues” is another venue for students to learn not only about women’s sexuality and strength, but the violence and oppression that still occurs today.

“People go to ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and they learn about all these really important issues concerning women about sexual assault, violence against women, female genital mutilation, and it opens their eyes to the fact that women are still being oppressed today,” Barefoot said.

April is only a couple of days away, and with Sexual Assault Awareness Month underway, the Vagina Warriors hope to continue educating students and engaging them to take action.

“The Vagina Warriors hope to serve as a catalyst for conversation leading to social change. Though our beliefs within the group are incredibly diversified, we share a passion for opening up conversation and debate regarding gender and other social justice issues within the ISU community,” Kruzic said.