Poetry and fiction have compared womanhood to nature for centuries; from Rappaccini’s Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, to Elizabeth’s Barret Browning’s Aurora Leigh. With no lack of environmental metaphors in feminist art, it’s easy to see why these comparisons are made.
On top of the fact that women are often considered central to the cycle of life, just like nature, womanhood and nature both grow, slowly yet surely. If you were once a young girl, chances are you were not entirely sure what shape your future womanhood would take, and you were probably bombarded with misogynistic micro-aggressions – such as “girls can’t play sports,” – that maybe made you question the worth or power of your gender. Okay so maybe systematic oppression doesn’t exist in the natural environment, but the way society treats women isn’t all that different to the way we treat nature.
From smaller acts of environmental abuse such as littering and vandalising natural monuments, to much larger acts of violence such as deforestation, as a human race we are constantly objectifying and assaulting the environment. Just as we assault the female body; we assault the earth with mountains of garbage, and just like we rip wood from the ground, men rip the clothes from women who have already said no to sex. Just as our products poison the Ozone layer, men expect women to poison our skin with beauty products in order to live up to their standards, every single day.
Society needs to let our skin breathe, to let our earth breathe. We need to put an end to human trafficking, to picking apart the Earth till there’s nothing left to destroy or sell. Putting an end to every micro-aggression and major assault, will help us all grow.
Words: Stephanie Watson