Entangled Nature: Feminist Lessons of Interconnectedness - Science and Nonduality (SAND)

Entangled Nature:
Feminist Lessons
of Interconnectedness

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The word radical comes from the Latin word radix (radice) meaning root. In botany, the radicle (coming from radix) is the first part of a seedling—a growing plant embryo—to emerge from the seed during the process of germination.⁣ ⁣It is the embryonic root that extends down into the ground to suck up water so the plant can eventually send out its leaves and start photosynthesizing. ⁣To do this, the radicle requires enormous strength.

⁣Under the soil, roots communicate with each other about possible dangers, in part by providing nurture, to keep one another alive. This is possible thanks to a symbiotic relationship called mycorrhiza that happens between respective plants and mycelium, a fungal network that grows inside roots connecting them underground. Almost every place we walk on has mycelium under the soil, like an invisible network of survival.

These root systems are not unlike the endlessly radical—or radicle—work that women have done for each other to oppose the structures that oppress them. Under the veil of a system that seeks to control our bodies, we talk to each other about trauma, we find safety in out entanglements.⁣

I do not know whether it is feminism that found me or I found feminism, but what I am sure of is that what kept me here is an understanding that the experiences I have had were not felt in isolation. Around me was a network of women that supported each other and held space for one another. The sisterhood I am referring to is not one that takes every experience as the same, but one where compassion and connection happen despite our differences. As Minna Salami writes in her book Sensuous Knowledge: “Sisterhood confronts racism, classism and homophobia so women can stand in political solidarity against patriarchy.” Any radical movement for liberation requires all the people to become free: until all of us are free, none of us are free.

This does not necessarily mean that we are all working towards the same goal or that we share the same problems, but that the different challenges we face come from the same oppressive place. And it has become clear just how important and sought after solidarity and sisterhood is to the liberation of all; we saw that with fourth wave feminism, which utilised the internet as a means to share and connect through movements like #MeToo #NiUnaMenos #WhyIdidntReport and #YoTeCreo.

In times of crisis and oppression, one of the ways in which we can rebel against systems that want to pidgeon-hole us, is to embrace duality and understand that we are all deeply connected. This teaching has been fundamental in the feminist movement, to realise that the freedom of everyone depended on the freedom of all, and not just a selected few who could make it to the top of the ladder.

In a capitalist and patriarchal system, it is difficult to hold nuances, or to understand that two or more types of things can exist at the same time.

We move through life thinking that our problems are only our own, that our struggles are our own, and that we are not connected. Creating simplistic binaries puts us in a perpetual attempt to fit a square into a triangle, it will only lead to frustration, power struggles, and anger. Holding complexities can be an extremely painful process because it goes against the way we are taught to think, but as Bayo Akomolafe says, perhaps it’s time to dance inside the cracks.

I myself have experienced the relief and joy that is felt when experience is shared. I grew up in a world that attempted to divide women, putting us in competition with each other, a narrative perpetuated by white liberal feminists of the Lean In movement. As writer Lola Olufemi writes, “A feminism that seeks power instead of questioning it does not care about justice.” What differentiates seeking power from questioning it is the act of sisterhood, evolving with strangers, helping and nurturing each other to build a stronger community.

“We are all born into the world of community,” according to feminist bell hooks. “Children are born into a world surrounded by the possibility of communities,” she continues. “Family, doctors, nurses, midwives, and even admiring strangers comprise this field of connections, some more intimate than others.”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that isolated trees have far shorter lives than those in forests; there is no survival without connection. Like the mycelium networks that exist under the Earth, sisterhood—holding each other in safe spaces, speaking out for one another— is also at times invisible but fundamental to the survival of us all. In a time of great division, to recognize our entangled nature is a revolutionary action.

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