On Women’s Culture and Positive Images

— images by Rezzan. Click on image to visit Rezzan’s DeviantArt page

Why do some women and feminists report enjoying “nature” so much? Why have some radical feminists identified so deeply with nature and rejected urban and even domesticated or agricultural rural areas on principle, to the point that it has appeared “essentialist” to some observers, as if one is inherently better than the other, or as if one is representative of “woman” and the other isn’t?

One doesn’t have to be particularly fond of floral imagery — or want floral wallpaper in their homes — to appreciate images such as the ones above. The point is not that one might prefer a floral motif over another, or enjoy “landscapes” or nature-derived images over images of other things as a matter of taste. The point for feminists is that male-centric imagery debases women and represents a woman-hating perspective that passes as “neutrality” even though it is not neutral — or politically irrelevant — at all. And everything created by men and endorsed by male-centric institutions — and that includes “fine art” — is created from that place, and that includes patriarchy-endorsed art created by male-identified women.

The only images and indeed “things” that aren’t created from a place of egregious woman-hatred, and are consistently either “positive” or value-neutral, are things that aren’t created or even touched by human hands at all, and that means “nature” by design. Sometimes, nature is captured and reproduced — or “conserved” — in urban areas or in government or commercially-controlled recreational areas such as parks, and one can appreciate the lines and forms of nature as a stark and comforting contrast to the harsh lines and realities of everyday life. But this often is not wild nature — it is tamed. An improvement over not having any green areas at all, certainly, but not anything close to what’s necessary to free one’s mind, even temporarily, or a little bit, from patriarchal values. For example, trees planted in straight lines or grid patterns that do not exist in nature, areas covered with growth that appears to be all the same age, or obviously manicured areas are suspect, and probably not naturally-occurring, and instead were likely orchestrated and executed by men for a (patriarchy-derived) reason.

It is only in “untamed” nature that we are exposed to value-neutral imagery that does not represent male-centric values that are toxic to women by design. We call this “positive” but for some of us, that is only because it is in contrast to what we are exposed to every day, which is female-negative, male-centric imagery designed to crush women’s spirits, and to defame and injure girls and women in every way.