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Ecofeminism and Rhetoric

Ecofeminism and Rhetoric: Critical Perspectives on Sex, Technology, and Discourse

Edited by Douglas A. Vakoch
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 186
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  • Book Info
    Ecofeminism and Rhetoric
    Book Description:

    By drawing on the complex interplay of ecology and feminism, ecofeminists identify links between the domination of nature and the oppression of women. This volume introduces a variety of innovative approaches for advancing ecofeminist activism, demonstrating how words exert power in the world. Contributors explore the interconnections between the dualisms of nature/culture and masculine/feminine, providing new insights into sex and technology through such wide-ranging topics as canine reproduction, orangutan motherhood and energy conservation. Ecofeminist rhetorics of care address environmental problems through cooperation and partnership, rather than hierarchical subordination, encouraging forms of communication that value mutual understanding over persuasion and control. By critically examining ways that theory can help deconstruct domineering practices-exposing the underlying ideologies-a new generation of ecofeminist scholarship illuminates the transformative capacity of language to foster emancipation and liberation.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-188-0
    Subjects: Sociology, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xviii)

    In an age of backlash against feminism (Dragiewicz 2008; Faludi 1991; Walby 1990), it is heart-warming to see the persistence of one of feminism’s most promising traditions of theory and practice: ecofeminism. Though few people call themselves ecofeminists, many work toward the kind of future envisioned by ecofeminists. Ecofeminists recognize the connections—theoretical and practical, discursive and material—between the oppression of nature and the oppression of women. Ecofeminists act to realize a world free of sexist oppression that is also environmentally sustainable and sound. The contributors to this anthology collectively assert—and their work demonstrates—that there is no...

    (pp. xix-xxii)
  5. CHAPTER 1 The Rhetorics of Critical Ecofeminism: Conceptual Connection and Reasoned Response
    (pp. 1-38)

    What isecofeminism?In the quotation that introduces this chapter, Cuomo does a good job of orienting us to the subject. Were one to stipulate a definition, her criterion denotes intentions that are “at least” explicitly both environmental and feminist. Mellor (2002: 7) agrees that “as its name implies, ecofeminism brings together the insights of feminism and ecology.” Berman (1994: 173) concurs that ecofeminism “is a theory and movement for social change that combines ecological principles with feminist theory” (in Besthorn and McMillen 2002: 224). As Longenecker (1997: 3) puts it, ecofeminism is “founded on a coalition between ecology and...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Into the Wild: An Ecofeminist Perspective on the Human Control of Canine Sexuality and Reproduction
    (pp. 39-64)

    I became a mother at thirty-nine, rather late in my reproductive years. For most of my adult life up until that point, I had no plans to have children, assuming on some level that motherhood came between women and their higher ambitions, especially their professional and intellectual callings. So imagine my horror when I found myself pregnant as a graduate student in my twenties—in a dream. But the sinking feeling that my life was ruined—which I have never forgotten and which resurrected itself briefly during a case of postpartum depression after the birth of my first child—turned...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Gender Representations in Orangutan Primatological Narratives: Essentialist Interpretations of Sexuality, Motherhood, and Women
    (pp. 65-88)

    Primatology, the study of primates, is rooted in the disciplines of anthropology and biology, the study of humans and the study of life, respectively. Primatology’s connection to biological anthropology reflects a motivation to better understand human nature and the natural environment. Through the work of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas, pioneers of some of the first long-term studies of the great apes, including chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans (in central Africa, Indonesia, and Malaysia), the field of primatology has created numerous popular narratives in nature programs, films, books, and environmental advocacy. Many of these narratives establish relationships between nonhuman...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Invitational Rhetoric: Alternative Rhetorical Strategy as Ecofeminist Practice for Transformation of Perception and Use of Energy in the Residential Built Environment from the Keweenaw to Kerala
    (pp. 89-116)

    This study takes the form of a personal odyssey from the Keweenaw Peninsula in northern Michigan, United States, to the state of Kerala in India. It is also the story of my ecofeminist beliefs about the importance of environmental concerns and the way I have learned to articulate these beliefs through a feminist rhetoric of cooperation and caring, a persuasive approach that respects the spiritual and intuitive dimensions of existence as critical sources of knowledge. I advance the ecofeminist rhetorical option of invitational rhetoric as a viable alternative to inadequate traditional persuasive rhetorical practices based primarily on rational beliefs, and...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Ecofeminist Ethics and Digital Technology: A Case Study of Microsoft Word
    (pp. 117-144)

    Composition is a complex rhetorical process that in these days of computer usage involves a great deal of technological assistance in the form of graphic user interfaces (GUIs). Ecofeminism, with its focus on appropriate technology and the impact of ecologies upon those who operate within them, provides a theoretical lens through which to examine how this complexity—arguably an ecology¹—can impact the writer using digital spaces to compose. While ecofeminism might at first seem an unlikely choice as a theoretical lens for this project, as I do not directly deal with traditional questions regarding the environment or environmental justice,...

    (pp. 145-156)

    As we look back over the preceding chapters, we can see how they demonstrate not only the vitality and sophistication of ecofeminist analysis, but also the ethical necessity of extending and promoting ecofeminist rhetorical critique in the “long emergency” of the climate change crisis. I use that term, the “long emergency,” because it comes from a book by James Howard Kunstler (2006), who has also written a novel about how he imagines the world will work later in this century after peak oil, climate change, and a global pandemic have decimated the populations, economies, and political institutions of the world....

  11. EPILOGUE. Unwrapping the Enigma of Ecofeminism: A Solution to the Illusion of Incoherence
    (pp. 157-170)

    Ecofeminism can be baffling. This is not a simple field of inquiry that is readily reducible to a few necessary and sufficient precepts. As with many academic ventures, some writings are so dependent on “inside” assumptions, terms, and frameworks that an outsider might be tempted to avoid the whole thing. This book, however, has the powerful potential to draw the larger intellectual community into the field and demonstrate that ecofeminists are onto something very important. But such an argument entails certain less-than-comfortable consequences.

    If ecofeminism is to emerge from the academic cradle that has allowed the field to develop in...

    (pp. 171-174)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 175-179)