…Taking Adams’s analysis beyond women and animals, it is plain to see that we are surrounded by absent referents. Real trees become mere symbols when we use their leaves and branches as logos even as forests are being clearcut to make way for more subdivisions. As the rainforests turn to deserts and the glaciers melt into mud, subway ads show images of tanned, happy women in tropical paradises, beckoning us to visit islands that have been tailored to accommodate human desires. The absent referent here is a healthy earth, a whole ecosystem. Fly over the United States in a plane and the earth, too, is sectioned into parts. The ability for places themselves to have wildness and individuality has been eradicated, all due to a dominant culture that sees women, animals and our very landbase as potential sources of profit.
As Adams writes, “justice should not be so fragile a commodity that it cannot be extended beyond the species barrier of Homo sapiens.” As long as women see animals and the natural world as objects placed on earth for thoughtless, insatiable consumption, we are feeding a dominant culture that processes our own bodies through the same system. As women enjoy the gains we have made in the path to our own equality, we must continue to assert our own presence and recognize our uniquely personal stake in fighting for those who are still being silenced.
visual art ©Elisa Decker