The protest movement against slickwater hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to release natural gas from the earth draws on a range of symbols and concepts related to eco-feminist spirituality, according to Leah Schade (Lutheran Theological Seminary), who presented a paper on the subject as the SSSR conference in Phoenix.
Eco-feminist spirituality links social justice and women’s rights issues to environmentalism along with a spirituality that views the earth as a living organism. Schade looked at blogs, protest literature, signs, T-shirts, and records of public hearings against fracking and found that the imagery of “mother earth” as a living, conscious entity was prominent. The idea that mother earth is being “raped” by fracking and that protestors are called to save the planet spiritually was also evident among the protestors. Schade said that such use of eco-feminist spiritual concepts and terminology was “successful in expressing grievances against fracking but it can also generate hostility among policy-makers, industry workers and leaders.”
Yet she concluded that the connection made between women’s bodies and mother earth has “gained traction” not only among environmentalists, but also among religious groups, rural residents and others not usually involved in the protests.