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SVU on Ecofeminism April 25, 2010

Posted by Jarrah H in feminism, Politics, Pop Culture.
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Did anyone catch this past week’s episode of Law and Order: SVU, called “Beef”?

Airing the day before Earth Day, “Beef” focused on the murder of an undercover documentary filmmaker killed for attempting to expose problems in the meatpacking industry.

I was excited for this episode because it was written by Lisa Loomer, an awesome playwright who also wrote The Waiting Room, which is one of my favourite feminist plays. And even though SVU has talked about environmental issues before, it hadn’t really mentioned the connection between environmentalism and feminism until this episode.

Now I know there were still issues with the episode but what I really liked was how the message was made accessible. Check it out:

So they outline one of the basic tenets of early ecofeminist theory and although the author is a bit of a stereotype, Olivia and Elliot appear to be mostly non-judgmental. Now of course there’s way more to ecofeminism than the comparison of women to meat, but I give credit to the SVU creators for trying to be socially responsible and promote adiscussion of these issues. When they’ve consistently averaged over 10 million US viewers a week, it’s kind of cool to think that maybe a few of those people will look up the issues brought up in the episodes.

For those of you not familiar with ecofeminism, ecofeminism.org says:

Ecofeminism is the social movement that regards the oppression of women and nature as interconnected…More recently, ecofeminist theorists have extended their analyses to consider the interconnections between sexism, the domination of nature (including animals), and also racism and social inequalities. Consequently it is now better understood as a movement working against the interconnected oppressions of gender, race, class and nature.

One of my favourite ecofeminist blogs was the Bitch guest blog series called “The Biotic Woman” by Brittany Shoot. I’m not a full vegetarian (I eat chicken and fish) and there are definitelythings I can work on to be more environmentally-friendly, but reading this series made me think a lot more about what I eat and where it comes from.

Apparently SVU wanted its viewers to think about that, too:

As ecofeminist.org mentioned, it’s also crucial to look at racial inequalities. SVU briefly alluded to one issue in the episode, with immigrant women of colour being the most vulnerable employees in the meatpacking industry, but there are many other issues, such as the exploitation of temporary migrant farmworkers, Aboriginal land issues, and looking at how people of colour are hardest hit by environmental disasters. If you’re interested in these kinds of issues, check out the neat blog Vegans of Color. There’s also a really neat article about the first African-American head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, at TriplePundit.

And happy belated Earth Day!

-Jarrah

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