Feminist Student Union hosts ecofeminism discussion

Over 35 students gathered in the Multicultural Center on Thursday to discuss how sustainability stretches beyond the environment.
MU students participate in an ecofeminism discussion Thursday, April 9, 2015, at the Women's Center in Columbia, Mo.

With their shoes off, postures relaxed and mouths filled with free Chipotle burritos, more than 35 students filled the chairs and couches in the Multicultural Center Thursday evening to participate in an ecofeminism discussion.

The event was sponsored by the the Feminist Student Union and Sustain Mizzou to foster discussion during Sustainability Week. Junior Emma Bagnardi, co-president of FSU, said the union has hosted the event for the past two Sustainability Weeks.

Bagnardi and senior Mary Catherine Crook, who helped organize the event, were the two main speakers of the discussion. They defined ecofeminism as a philosophical and political movement that combines ecological concerns with feminist ones, regarding both as a result of male domination in society.

The discussion started with how intersectionality in the agriculture system influences the idea of “feminine” and “masculine” foods.

Crook started the discussion by explaining that red meat, for an example, is considered a masculine food in society whereas lettuce and other vegetables are considered feminine foods because a woman is expected to look “frail and lightweight.”

One student at the forum added that frozen meals such as Hungry-Man are marketed towards men while Lean Cuisine and Weight Watchers are specifically marketed toward women.

Although Bagnardi and Crook originally had planned an outline for the discussion, they soon realized a more interactive setting would pave the way to a unique and informative discussion, Bagnardi said. Students participated by raising their hands to ask questions and contributing their perspective on ecofeminism.

Students then split up into groups of two to four people to brainstorm examples of their personal power and privilege in today’s food system.

While more than six students shared their unique privileges, such as the option to practice veganism or vegetarianism, the established safe place allowed for many radical ideas about ecofeminism to be shared with the group.

“Let’s start a revolution,” one student at the forum said after hearing about the epidemic of food deserts in the U.S. from other passionate ecofeminism advocates at the event.

“That’s what we’re doing right here in this room,” Crook said.

Senior Taylor Thompson said the discussion helped her realize all of the privileges and opportunities she has when choosing her food.

“It was my first time at the event and I loved it,” she said. “It was so informative, and I really, really enjoyed it.”

Crook said her and Bagnardi were pleasantly surprised by how many people were interacting and participating during the discussion.

“I’m glad it was a discussion and not just me talking to people,” she said. “I thought it was awesome.”

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