I’m only 34 pages into the novel ‘Ecotopia’, and I am already enraptured. I was quickly drawn in by the vision it offers of an ecologically balanced, while technologically advanced, society, and it offers many moments in which to pause and reflect on how we – I – choose to engage with the world.
While it’s easy to cynically approach the novel from the viewpoint that it isn’t possible for such a society to emerge on such a large scale (particularly within the United States of America), given the nature of humans, politics, power, and current economic structures, I choose instead to see it as an invitation to remember that things don’t have to always be as they are. If we can visualise a different way of being, we can keep striving, in our own way, towards that vision – and even if we can’t change society at large in any dramatic way, we can be consciously aware of our own actions and choices.
I was delight to stumble across a paragraph in the novel that encapsulates some of what I envision as my own way of engaging with the world – a world in which I see men and women as equal rather than the same. It’s refreshing to picture a society within which such equality has become a wide-spread reality:
“…women in Ecotopia have totally escaped the dependent roles they still tend to play with us. Not that they domineer over men – but they exercise power in work and in relationships just as men do. Above all, they don’t have to manipulate men: social developments have arranged the society so that women’s objective situation is equal to men’s. Thus people can be just people, without our symbolic loading on sex roles. (I notice, however, that Ecotopian women still seem to me feminine, with a relaxed air of their biological attractiveness, even fertility… And men, though they express feelings more openly than American men – even feelings of weakness – still seem masculine).”