My feminism, my planet

I am a feminist and I am an environmentalist. I don’t really appreciate being asked to compromise one to support the other.

Yet, this is what the campaign “Ethical Oil” is asking me to do in this new ad.

The message they’re passing is simple enough (if you support women’s rights, you must not buy anything from Saudi Arabia, therefore you should demand oil from Canada instead), which is why we should be weary of it.

First, increasing production from Canada’s tar sands is not going to reduce demand from Saudi Arabia’s oil fields. What is going to reduce demand is, amazingly enough – to reduce demand:  put in place strong standards for fuel efficiency, improve public transport and facilitate alternative means of transportation like cycling.

Second, there is absolutely nothing ethical about getting oil from Canada’s tar sands. The tar sands are one of the largest environmental disasters on this planet right now, destroying the primary forest and poisoning rivers. They also have become one of the single largest source of carbon emissions in the world, causing climate change.

Ethical Oil is choosing their targets quite well: they have started to advertise on OWN – but environmentalists are calling their bluff and asking Oprah to stop running their ads.

I don’t appreciate being asked to trade one evil for the other. I won’t compromise on feminism to save the planet – but I won’t accept that the planet becomes collateral damage for women’s rights either. Anyone pretending that we can trade one for the other can’t have the true interests of either in mind. Women are more affected by the effect of climate change.

If Ethical Oil was truly interested in women’s rights, they’d be campaign for fuel efficiency standards. Instead they’re using the condition of Saudi women as a disgusting gateway to destroying the planet and encouraging an environmental disaster.

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  • nicolechat

    The Alberta tar sands as ethical oil? Are you shitting me? No. First, the environmental destruction is devastating. But beyond that, it’s hardly a healthy human rights choice, either. The tar sands devastate fishing communities in the nearby lakes, and many of these communities are First Nations communities – a population that is already suffering from poverty on a level that is almost incomprehensible to urban Canadians. With the tar sands, many aboriginal Albertans are seeing their job markets in forestry and fishing eroding away, and unemployment and poverty are spreading.

    That alone is enough, of course, but since this ad is insisting on a feminist stance, one has to consider that aboriginal women are among the poorest demographics in Canada, the most under-represented in government, and the most likely to suffer from domestic violence. They are vulnerable to abuse because of the poverty and desperation that plagues their communities, leading to substance abuse issues and all kinds of other risk factors for violence. (I’m not condemning native men or saying that addiction always causes abuse – but it is well-documented here in Canada that poverty is a major factor contributing to the high rates of abuse against aboriginal women.)

    I’m pretty disgusted to see this group championing the Alberta tar sands as an “ethical” choice.

  • katetheskate

    Thank you very much for posting this! I was arrested in front of the White House to bring attention to the problems with the tar sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline. One of the biggest reasons I was willing to make that sacrifice was that the tar sands exploitation is happening against the wishes of the First Nations people who live nearby and who suffer from much higher cancer rates because of the pollution there.

    I urge everyone who lives in the US to call the White House at 202-456-1111, to ask President Obama not to grant a permit to the Keystone XL Pipeline. Climate change is not in our national interest. Risking an oil spill in the largest fresh water source in the US (the Ogallala aquifer) is not in our national interest. And contributing to the exploitation of First Nations people in Canada is just plain wrong.

  • Kylie Sier

    Not to mention the fact that Canada’s tar sands in no way support human rights, including those of women. Countless human rights violation have taken place in order to extract oil from these tar sands, including intensive development of said sands on Lubicon Cree land against their wishes.

    “International human rights bodies have long been critical of the poverty, widespread ill-health and culture loss that has resulted from the near total destruction of the Lubicon economy and way of life.” – Amnesty International,

  • Mari Passananti

    Too bad so many people will believe ethical oil’s message. Are they affiliated with the Canadian oil industry, or are they just painfully misguided? My guess would be the former.

  • Brüno

    Americas wealth is directly tied to oil. Once that is finished, America, at least as a rich country, is finished. It will more closely resemble Columbia than Germany.