On 25th November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and we at Rescogita would like to offer you the point of view of ecopsychology on this problem.
What are the roots and origin of this violence? Referring to scholar Jared Diamond, we are looking at some 12.000 years ago (a very short time compared the the 2 million years humans are around) and it started with agriculture. Archeologists showed us that hunter/gatherer nomadic tribes had a more equal society than that of farmers. How was agriculture an influence to violence? Settled human communities were characterised by two elements, the first one being larger families, while the nomadic ones could maybe afford 1-2 children because they could not stay too long in one place, farmers could afford,and needed larger families, taking into consideration high child mortality, to help in the fields and take over upon old age and death of the parents, and therefore giving preference to male children. This meant that carrying children and looking after them became a woman’s prerogative, at risk of her health and social status, while gradually men became the breadwinners. The second element was that of property, while nomadic tribes had a vague concept of what belonged to them, farmer culture made it clearer in separating plots and claiming ownership of land, therefore ownership as a concept forced its way into the human mind and culture, concerning the land, tools, family and one’s woman; what the eco-feminists defined as the foundation of patriarchal society. This had a side-effect, farms to thrive had to intervene and alter the environment, hunting/gathering was more focused on adapting to the environment, farming to adapt the environment to us, and another behaviour entered our human collective thought, that of domination, as a matter of fact humans are the only species in Earth’s history to struggle to rise above nature and dominate it. These two characteristics were crowned by an approach which we would define violence aimed at all we believe is rightfully ours and that we should naturally dominate, with force if need be, because it is our property. Towards nature, as it belongs to me and that forest stands in the way or more fields and crops, towards my neighbour as I have a right to more land and stronger and they must subjugate, towards my family as they belong to be the Pater Familias, towards my woman as she depends on me for food and shelter. This is what may well be stand at the origin of violence against women and dragged down many human cultures for 12.000 years, 0,0012% of our existence on Earth. In the 1990s the Eco-feminist movement, mother to Ecopsychology, brought up an interesting parallel, that men’s violence against women corresponds to men’s violence against nature, all started with a mentality of domination. Giving life to different forms of violence, from economic (lesser opportunities and salaries) to social (public life expectations) up to the most obvious physical and sexual. The approach of ecopsychology is one that fosters harmonisation with the outer world, creating a sense of belonging with the human communities and the biosphere as a whole in an ecological fashion. Ecological meaning that actions, decisions and behaviours are beneficial to the individual, its human community and the biosphere in general; underlining that such potential new mindset has no place for violence and the 12.000 year old dominant mindset serves no purpose at all in today’s and tomorrow’s world.