Climate Solutions: The Importance of Feminine Energy and Disrupting White Power Structures

A major theme underlying the Women’s Panel hosted by WECAN at the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23), was the need for transformative revolutionary socially just change. And furthermore, that this change would not come until woman and their ideas were at the forefront of the decision making.

Panelists Singing a Traditional Native American Song at the WECAN event at COP23

The United States administration has historically been, and continues to be, a white male, dominated space. Because of this, it largely lacks the motivation or standing to address issues of social justice. Donald Trump’s election into office was not random or arbitrary. His administration comes from a context of patriarchy and exploitation.

Since day one of its inauguration — the Trump administration has very intentionally launched attacks on social justice movements — from women’s, LGBTQ+ and immigrant rights, to health care and Black Lives Matter, it is very apparent that we can no longer look to our government for the revolutionary change we need to disrupt systems which oppress and destroy.

Instead of relying on our political system, or trying to reform the system from the inside — we need to create new systems. These new systems would be bottom up, grassroots solutions, which would create platforms for women, especially women of color, to take the lead. Their pedagogies (or teachings) are essential to the creation of new systems and solutions to disrupt existing oppressive ones.

Why women?

A silly question, but it needs to be addressed.

Feminine energy is by nature nurturing, compassionate, empathetic, and emotional. All things which will bring a more communicative, caring, and healthy environment. Yet despite this, women are often taught to, in public, professional, and academic spaces, keep those energies in check. This is because they will not be taken seriously, or because anger and emotion are viewed as weak or negative feelings, or because compassion and empathy can lead you to being taken advantage of or used. In these spaces, we are taught to be objective: cold, emotions in check, fact based and rational. This is the antithesis of feminine energy, in other words, masculine energy.

However, in reality, the world does not operate in an objective way, nor do people. Stripping the humanity from the discussion will not open up doors to realistic and practical solutions to help those in need.

We need to redefine what is academic, what is factual, what is practical — and to do this we must disrupt masculine spaces with subjective thought — with the pedagogies of the oppressed.

At the panel, women from around the world discussed their own first-hand and very personal experiences to the devastating effects of climate change. These witnesses were powerful due to their simplicity. Powerful, because the people in the audience did not need a bachelors degree, a PhD, or a background in climate science to feel connected, engaged, or to relate to what was being discussed.

The panelists spoke about revolutionizing the way we talk about the environment — for example, talking about forests not as an object, but as being alive. They discussed the lack of a human connection when having conversations about climate change, including quite ironic situations, like how though woman farm the majority of the worlds food, and yet those very same women are starving. They discussed economic labor justice: women crossing dangerous boarders for precarious jobs. They discussed sacrifice zones: such as cities surrounded by oil refineries, filled with black and brown people without social, political, or economic power to fight back.

To understand their witnesses and stories, we did not need to have knowledge about the “the hottest year on record” or how many “parts per million” of CO2 there are in the atmosphere.

Opening up the spaces to include these pedagogies of the oppressed, to include feminine energy, and to include a diversity of experiences, challenges existing power structures by speaking in an inclusive and engaging way. It allows for a diversity of thought, and in turn, a diversity of solutions.

There are systems in play perpetuating, a slow violence — a hidden violence. A violence that you cannot see — but can feel in the deepest part of your bones. Systems like capitalism, racism, and sexism, which are upheld by patriarchal exploitative governments and ideologies.

We need to disrupt these systems of structural power with feminine energy if the world wants to see real and meaningful change.