In Class News

November 8, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Student Hopes Class Tumblr Spreads Ecofeminism Awareness

Junior Bethany Bella regularly contributes to Euler's ecofeminism Tumblr blog.

Junior Bethany Bella regularly contributes to Euler’s ecofeminism Tumblr blog.

“Ecofeminism is an issue worth knowing about, and we want to reach the public, not just fellow academics,” says junior Bethany Bella.

Bella, along with the rest of Dr. Catherine Euler’s students in WGSS 2000: Ecological Feminism, contributes to a Tumblr blog called World Warriors that teaches social media users about the ways in which environmental concerns and human rights intersect.

On their Tumblr page, students have the opportunity to post news articles as well as their essays, the topics of which include pesticide use, global food security, GMOs, and myriad other current issues.

“We want to generate a meaningful conversation around the topics in our papers,” Bella explains. The conversation, she notes, needs to include voices outside academia. “We want to publicize our work and to highlight ecofeminist issues beyond the classroom and the ivory tower. We aren’t just writing for our professor or our classmates,” she notes.

Uniting Environmental Concerns and Human Rights

At first glance, it may be unclear how ecology and feminism relate to one another. Even if readers of the Tumblr page are familiar with feminism, they may not have encountered the term “ecofeminism” before.

“The ‘eco-‘ prefix makes people pause,” Bella remarks. “The class is concerned with two tandem interests: the environment and gender politics. We want to reach disconnected audiences who aren’t familiar with the combination of ecological studies and feminism.”

In terms of the class’s goals, the first step is to help readers develop a more accurate understanding of feminism, a term that is sometimes heatedly debated among social media users.

“When people hear the word ‘feminism,’ they think ‘man-haters.’ Our class views feminism as a discipline that values all life, not just women’s lives,” Bella explains, “and women’s rights are human rights. As for environmental issues, humans are part of the environment. There is no separation. We are part and parcel of a larger ecosystem. When you frame ecological issues in a feminist perspective, you value all life.”

The class further wants to highlight the ways in which marginalized populations have been discriminated against, especially in regards to ecological issues.

“Indigenous peoples bear the brunt of pollution. When looking at how we disseminate chemicals in the environment, we have to consider: whom does it affect? Our tumblr page aims to shed light on environmental justice issues and the needs of marginalized peoples,” Bella explains.

Tumblr especially appeals to younger social media users, which Bella sees as an ideal demographic. “I hope the articles and papers we post reach disengaged and disinterested young people. Environmental justice and human rights are important to everyone regardless, of whether you think it applies to you.”

‘There’s No Better Time to Be in a Class Like This’

In light of national and international concerns about climate change, gender equality, human rights, and the preservation of natural resources, this is an especially important time to highlight the importance of ecofeminism.

“Environmental justice issues are reaching the mainstream media,” Bella explains. “On our Tumblr blog, we are discussing climate change through a feminist perspective. It’s important to align the natural world and the human world. In thinking about concerns like the Standing Rock protest, for example, there’s no better time to be in a class like this. The whole campus could benefit from this course. The issues we discuss affect all of us.”

‘Blown Away by What I’ve Learned’

Euler’s course is generating a great deal of excitement and social awareness among students. Like many Ohio University students, Bella credits the Women’s. Gender, & Sexuality Studies introductory course with sparking her interest in feminist issues.

“I had no interest in feminism before the introductory class, which I took with Dr. Euler,” Bella notes, “but I was struck by the class itself and the subject matter. Dr. Euler mentioned the ecofeminism course during the intro class, and I thought, ‘You bet I’ll be back next fall!’ I’ve been blown away by what I’ve learned. I am championing ecofeminism, and I want to go forward with this.”

Diverse Interests and a Single Goal

Bella, a junior of specialized studies, is specializing in Geography and Political Science. Additionally, she is working toward a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Certificate while also working as a Voinivich undergraduate research scholar under the direction of Dr. Geoffrey Dabelko.

“Because of this class, I know that I will include gender in my future environmental services career,” Bella states. “There is a necessary link that needs to happen between gender and environmental perspectives.”

“I’m learning everything I can get my hands on,” Bella says of her diverse interests. “I love having a specialized major, and I am taking classes that I’m excited about every day.”

Combating Helplessness with Awareness and Hope

Euler’s class and the tumblr page are having a lasting effect on Bella’s approach to her studies.

“I can’t stop seeing things in an ecofeminist perspective. Dr. Euler calls this a ‘burden of knowledge’ because it is impossible to look away from the things we’ve learned. This class is very difficult emotionally. Learning the extent of environmental problems sometimes makes us feel helpless, but our Tumblr blog helps us get message out and make a difference. This blog is part of our agency. This is something we can do to spread awareness.”

Even though the course’s subject matter sometimes confronts students with what seem like insuperable problems, there is a sense of hope and solidarity among the students. “I like coming into Dr. Euler’s class,” Bella notes, “because we’re all in this together.”

One Comment

  1. Bill Bella (OU '84) says:

    Loved this article, Miss Bella.

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