Ecotopia is about a utopian land established in the American North-West. It portrays a society built around the beliefs of social equality and ecofeminism (Ahhahahaha!).
Or, at least, that’s what it claims to do. While Ecotopia is a very pleasant little nation, fairly portrayed with both good and bad aspects, it is also a prime example of a social mindset which dictates that men and women are equal, but women are more equal.
To put this ‘idea’ more clearly: the genders should be treated as equal (egalitarianism), but women have special ‘needs’ and ‘skills’ above men(traditionally called matriarchalism or female-chauvinism, but those are just details). Apparently these extra benefits don’t count in the race for equality.
For example, in this supposedly equal world, women have various powers which men lack:
- Political: The primary political party in Ecotopia is primarily composed of women, including the nation’s president, and women are encouraged to pursue politics.
- Relationships: Women are obviously in control of relationships, from start to finish. There even seems to be some remaining ideas of chivalry (ie, ‘he shouldn’t hit a girl’).
- Family: In Ecotopia, it seems everyone just calmly accepts the ‘fact’ that mothers are the masters of child rearing. They also seem to have more or less total control over the conception of children (paternity fraud?).
But surely men must have some niche in this world! And yes, they do. In Ecotopia, men are in charge of:
Yep, that’s right. Human blood sports. In Ecotopia, young men take part in ‘war games’ where someone is always injured (days in the hospital) and, on average, about one seems to die a week.
To say the least, this is an unfairly negative portrayal of male identity and societal function.
As I have said before, I believe that men have a natural (or at least deeply rooted) ‘warrior instinct’ not possessed by women. However, Roman-style blood-sports are not about being warriors. They are not fighting for anything real, except maybe a night with a random woman. Seriously, that seems to be the only reason for the Ecotopian war games. Where I come from, a woman who likes to sleep with a murderous brute is usually considered unhealthy.
The Ecotopian ‘war games’ don’t even serve any political function. They aren’t part of endemic warfare, as has evolved in some human cultures as a way of maintaining power balance. Nor are they used as a means of personal conflict resolution (like duels). They seem to have no function except as displays and for personal pride, which leaves only one reason for them: the men want to fight because they are inherently violent.
This idea seems to pop up disturbingly often in feminist media as a reason for increased female power, but it is usually unfounded. The fact that women have not commonly made war does not mean they will not make war. I think the truth is that men don’t have a stronger ‘urge’ for battle than women, but rather a stronger willingness and understanding for the need of battle. If you ask any war veteran, combat isn’t fun. No normal person really wants it, not if they actually understand it.
The overall message wrongly paints men as violent and generally uncivilized, and the story’s ecofeminist (Ahhahahaha!) side not-so-subtly blames men for the earth’s ecological problems.
For a story of a supposedly equal society, there seem to be a lot of inequalities. To ‘be a man’ you have to enter mortal combat. To ‘be a woman’ you just have to sleep around.
Now, it is important to look at Ecotopia in the context of its own time. In 1975, many of these ‘advances’ in the goals of feminism and ecofeminism (Ahhahahaha!) had not yet happened, but by today many of them have. At least in terms of human relationships, Ecotopia has actually turned out to be somewhat predictive.
That means we should be due to see gladiator combat (all male) in the Olympics by 2020.
I’ll bring the sponge.