EDITED BY Greta Gaard
Copyright Date: 1993
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Drawing on the insights of ecology, feminism, and socialism, ecofeminism's basic premise is that the ideology that authorizes oppression based on race, class, gender, sexuality, physical abilities, and species is the same ideology that sanctions the oppression of nature. In this collection of essays, feminist scholars and activists discuss the relationships among human begins, the natural environment, and nonhuman animals. They reject the nature/culture dualism of patriarchal thought and locate animals and humans within nature. The goal of these twelve articles is to contribute to the evolving dialogue among feminists, ecofeminists, animal liberationists, deep ecologists, and social ecologists in an effort to create a sustainable lifestyle for all inhabitants of the earth.

    Among the issues addressed are the conflicts between Green politics and ecofeminism, various applications of ecofeminist theory, the relationship of animal liberation to ecofeminism, harmful implications of the romanticized woman-nature association in Western culture, and cultural limitations of ecofeminism.

    In the seriesEthics and Action, edited by Tom Regan.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0548-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Greta Gaard
  4. CHAPTER 1 Living Interconnections with Animals and Nature
    (pp. 1-12)
    Greta Gaard

    Ecofeminism is a theory that has evolved from various fields of feminist inquiry and activism: peace movements, labor movements, women’s health care, and the anti-nuclear, environmental, and animal liberation movements. Drawing on the insights of ecology, feminism, and socialism, ecofeminism’s basic premise is that the ideology which authorizes oppressions such as those based on race, class, gender, sexuality, physical abilities, and species is the same ideology which sanctions the oppression of nature. Ecofeminism calls for an end to all oppressions, arguing that no attempt to liberate women (or any other oppressed group) will be successful without an equal attempt to...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Ecofeminism: Linking Theory and Practice
    (pp. 13-59)
    Janis Birkeland

    Radical green philosophy is premised on the conviction that the sources of the environmental crisis are deeply rooted in modern culture, and therefore fundamental social transformation is necessary if we are to preserve life on earth in any meaningful sense. This follows from the realization that we cannot rely on patchwork reforms through more appropriate economics, technology, and regulation, or better policies gained through green electoral politics. Our public choice mechanisms and technocratic methods are inherently biased against environmental preservation and conflict prevention.¹ Therefore, the gradual attrition, degradation, and biological impoverishment of the natural environment are inevitable under the existing...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Dismantling Oppression: An Analysis of the Connection Between Women and Animals
    (pp. 60-90)
    Lori Gruen

    Despite a growing awareness of the destructiveness of the human species and the precarious position in which such destruction puts all inhabitants of the earth, there has been shockingly little discussion of the fundamental forces that have led us to the brink. While multinational corporations and grassroots activists alike have stressed the urgency of a change in behavior, few have stressed the need for a serious change in attitudes and values. Those who do critically examine the underlying motivation for and psychology of destructive action tend to focus their attention on single issues, mimicking, in some ways, the very system...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Roots: Rejoining Natural and Social History
    (pp. 91-117)
    Stephanie Lahar

    There is not a place in the world that does not reveal the touch and bear the consequences of human hands and minds—not Antarctica, not the deepest equatorial jungle, and certainly not Tokyo or New York City. At the same time, there are no people who have not been shaped by the effects of landscape and water, the climate and natural features of the area in which they live. These effects are seldom an explicit part of social and political histories, but they are readable by signs. Environments influence survival activities, necessitate closed or open constructions of shelter, which...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Ecofeminism and the Politics of Reality
    (pp. 118-145)
    Linda Vance

    When I leave the road and enter the northern forest, the thick, humid, engulfing northern forest, I always pause, as though at a doorway, as though about to part a curtain, and center myself, and ask permission and safe passage. It is not unlike taking off my shoes when I enter my home, or the homes of my friends; I leave a material world behind to enter into another, more sanctified one.

    I live in a town in New England, but the forest is home, in the sense that it provides the continuity in my life, the place I return...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Questioning Sour Grapes: Ecofeminism and the United Farm Workers Grape Boycott
    (pp. 146-166)
    Ellen O’Loughlin

    Sour grapes. What an expression (on your face). Sour grapes are unexpected and unwanted. You pick a grape, bite through the skin to the fleshy fruit expecting sweetness. Perhaps you anticipate seeds, but more likely not (seedless reigns). Expecting sweetness, you are disappointed by the sour grape. Say “yuck” and spit it out if you can; if not, grimace and swallow. The grape is rejected. Is it bad? Or just not what you wanted? Not what you paid for? Were you deceived by the unblemished appearance of the fruit? Can you trust the next one?

    Sour grapes: the expression refers...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Animal Rights and Feminist Theory
    (pp. 167-194)
    Josephine Donovan

    Peter Singer prefaces his groundbreaking treatiseAnimal Liberation(1975) with an anecdote about a visit he and his wife made to the home of a woman who claimed to love animals, had heard he was writing a book on the subject, and so invited him to tea. Singer’s attitude toward the woman is contemptuous: she had invited a friend who also loved animals and was “keen to meet us. When we arrived our hostess’s friend was already there, and … certainly was keen to talk about animals. ‘I do love animals,’ she began … and she was off. She paused...

  11. CHAPTER 8 The Feminist Traffic in Animals
    (pp. 195-218)
    Carol J. Adams

    Should feminists be vegetarians? This question has appeared more and more frequently in recent years. Claudia Card offers one opinion: “Must we all, then, be vegetarians, pacifist, drug-free, opposed to competition, antihierarchical, in favor of circles, committed to promiscuity with women, and free of the parochialism of erotic arousal? Is this too specific? These values are not peripheral to analyses of women’s oppressions.”¹

    Another feminist, Joan Cocks, critically refers to the ideas that she sees informing feminist cultural practice: “The political strategies generally are non-violent, the appropriate cuisine, vegetarian.”² Whether or not all ecofeminists should be vegans is in fact...

  12. CHAPTER 9 For the Love of Nature: Ecology and the Cult of the Romantic
    (pp. 219-242)
    Chaia Heller

    Awareness of the ecological crisis peaked in 1972 when the astronauts first photographed the planet, showing thick furrows of smog scattered over the beautiful blue and green ball. “The planet is dying” became the common cry. Suddenly the planet, personified as “Mother Earth,” captured national, sentimental attention. In our modern iconography, nature became rendered as a victimized woman, a madonna-like angel to be idealized, protected, and saved from society’s inability to constrain itself. Some twenty years later we witness a resurgence of environmental concern. As we observed on Earth Day 1992, politicians, corporate ringleaders, and deep ecologists are leaping into...

  13. CHAPTER 10 From Heroic to Holistic Ethics: The Ecofeminist Challenge
    (pp. 243-271)
    Marti Kheel

    As the destruction of the natural world proceeds at breakneck speed, nature ethicists have found themselves in search of a theory that can serve to bring this destruction to a halt.¹ Just as the prototypical hero in patriarchal stories must rescue the proverbial “damsel in distress,” so, too, the sought-after theory must demonstrate heroic qualities. It must, singlehandedly, rescue the ailing body of “Mother Nature” from the villains who have bound and subdued her. The theoretical underpinnings of environmental and animal liberation philosophies are seen by many ethical theorists as having the necessary “intellectual muscle” to perform this heroic feat.²...

  14. CHAPTER 11 A Cross-Cultural Critique of Ecofeminism
    (pp. 272-294)
    Huey-li Li

    Regardless of their different theoretical positions, ecofeminists appear to agree that there are important conceptual connections between the oppression of women and the oppression of nature.¹ They believe that the traditional sex/gender system has had a significant impact on today’s environmental problems. Moreover, many ecoferninists in English-speaking countries accept the age-old perception of an affinity between woman and nature as a self-evident explanation for the connections between these two forms of oppression.² On the one hand, ecofeminists believe that there are perceived similarities between woman and nature—such as passivity and life-giving nurturing qualities—that make them equally vulnerable to...

  15. CHAPTER 12 Ecofeminism and Native American Cultures: Pushing the Limits of Cultural Imperialism?
    (pp. 295-314)
    Greta Gaard

    Questions of racism and cultural imperialism have been brought to the foreground of the women’s movement in the United States, most notably at the 1990 convention of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA).¹ White academic feminists have been charged with theorizing about “women” in a way that universalizes and therefore does not account for differences among women based on culture, race, and class. Ecofeminists striving to create a theory that is inclusive of both humans and nature cannot afford, in our respect for the natural world, to ignore or dismiss these questions as “already answered” or “solved.” In particular, three...

  16. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 315-322)
  17. About the Contributors
    (pp. 323-326)
  18. Index
    (pp. 327-331)