Myriam Bahaffou: “Ecofeminists do politics differently”

Myriam Bahaffou is a PhD student in philosophy and an activist. For him, it is easy to talk about ecofeminism alone. It evokes a collective struggle for the protection of the living, women and other minorities. A topic covered in his book Flakes on compostPublished in October 2022.

Myriam, 26, looks out the window of the house where she lives and works in Bure. This town on the Meuse is the center of a nuclear waste disposal project. The National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management plans to bury 85,000 cubic meters of the highest radioactive waste to be produced in France in the future in galleries dug 500 meters underground. “I observe the landscape, the land that should receive the waste. This project is so terrible and deceptive that I am afraid to face it. However, I allow myself to be filled with feelings of fear and anger. It’s hard, but it’s my way of being an ecofeminist. Allow me to touch you, continuing to develop sensitivity to the world. Because this emotion is not only an individual, but a political door. »

From her teenage years, Myriam Bahaffou realized that she lived in a “damaged world” where the relationship between humans and living things was often about “using it to produce”: “I began to find our relationship with animals inhumane. If we continue to treat and kill animals in this way, how can we imagine fair relations between people, how can we talk about democracy? He is 19 years old and a vegetarian.

Poor women of color

According to her, as with other ecofeminist thinkers, the connections between this appropriation of living things and the mechanism of male domination are becoming increasingly clear: “The current ecological situation is inextricably linked to patriarchy. The PhD student in philosophy says she understood this more quickly because she was “female, racial and poor”: “I grew up in a family of women on the outskirts of Lyon. This identity saved me from looking at the world through the eyes of the dominant. Unknowingly, I was able to develop a political and feminist conscience. »

The power of ecofeminism is to connect “without forgetting where it came from.”

For her, ecofeminism is a movement that best illustrates the connections between struggles against various oppressions. “Its roots are the struggles of poor women of color outside the West. And here, in the forgotten working-class neighborhoods of ecology. These women defend their lives, their children and their land. » The power of ecofeminism is to make a connection without whitewashing it by reducing it to Western self-segregation or the theories of academics. As long as you don’t forget where you came from.” She fears the over-individualization of ecofeminism, which would result in sorting your waste or buying organic clothes: “It’s the persistence of capitalism and other oppressions, it calls them into question. »

“Another ecological grammar”

For Myriam Bahaffou, the challenge is more to create other opportunities. In Bure, the feminist and anti-nuclear collective Atomic Bombs or the ecofeminist group she founded in 2019, Voix Déterres, for example, held weeks of workshops without any cisgender men. [1]. “Then everything changes! The way we talk, dress, eat: we create something new. I learned to listen and appreciate the words of others. To grow, to repair, to mend. I learned to talk about my body and my feelings. Dare to create, to cry, to be angry and radical, rather than some distant rationality that always wants to prove everything with numbers. »

Even now, in her thesis on indigenous ecofeminism in Canada, Myriam Bahaffou prefers to suppress the texts she reads rather than keep them at a distance. “Ecofeminists do politics differently. When South Americans fight Monsanto, they talk about plants, animals, but also spirits, ancestors. They create another ecological grammar. Voix Déterres seeks to bring together texts on activist intersectional ecofeminism [2]. But above all, do not aspire to be the hero of the movement. “For me, it undermines the idea of ​​a global humanity represented by a few influential figures in ecofeminism. So the more localized the dynamics, the more fragmented, the more fragmented it seems. » A circle of different people, but all with the same value. “Thinking without this dissolution gives a more fragile and humble view of existence. »

[1].A man whose gender identity corresponds to his birth or assigned sex.

[2].Intersectional ecofeminism is social, economic, ethnic, religious, etc. considers other forms of dominance. which gives weight to women.

This article can be found in K55, a dossier devoted to ecofeminism, available here.


Myriam Bahaffou, Des flakes on compost. Everyday ecofeminismsRunning, 2022


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