Ecofeminism (Blog 25)

Karen Warren provides us with an argument that links the conceptually oppressive and patriarchal framework placed on females to the one that’s also, supposedly, placed on nature. Warren defines a “feminist issue” as “any issue that contributes in some way to understanding the oppression of women.”[1] She goes on to say that a logic of domination has been created and functioning in a manner that is patriarchal and justifies the twin domination of females and nature. Therefore, ecological feminism “is the position that t4e2c32e81f12fadc87d53684d35d9aedhere are important connections-historical, symbolic, theoretical-between the domination of women and the domination of nonhuman nature.”[2] Warren also uses argues that an ecological feminism would include within its ethic issues that are often lost and considered irrelevant or useless in mainstream philosophical ethics such as “values of care, love, friendship, and appropriate trust,”[3] and that feminist and environmental ethicists have brought these different ethical issues to the conversation by using first-person narrative. Finally, Warren talks a lot about relationships, particularly by using the first-person narrative about a rock climbing experience, and she gives the distinction between a conqueror-type relationship and an emergent caring-type relationship. For Warren, it’s about included what’s been excluded in the past. Building relationships based on faith and lived experience from which an ethical meaning emerges rather than is forced upon a person or a situation.

ecofeminism1

First and foremost I would like to state that I am a feminist. I’m not ashamed of it and I think for any woman in today’s society who wants to get a job outside of the home and wants to be treated equally to her male co-workers within that job and environment with the same opportunities for mobility and wage earnings then she too would be hard-pressed to say she’s not a feminist. That being said, I have a difficult time buying in to Warren’s ecofeminism argument. First of all, feminism often has a negative connotation attached to it and the environmental movement is having a hard enough time convincing people that they have a duty to the environment and all things that inhabit it, coupling this with feminism just seems like an impractical move for both movements. Both carry a lot of baggage and differ ideologically, historically and they’re both at very different points in their movements. Women have been fighting for their rights since the mid 1800’s, whereas the environmental movement didn’t begin until the mid to late 1900’s. Part of Warren’s argument and analysis relies on Maria Lugones’ “loving perception” theory or gal_5645ideology. Lugones says, “The limits of loving perception are determined only by the limits of one’s… ability to respond lovingly (or with appropriate care, trust, or friendship)- whether it is to other humans or to the nonhumans world and elements of it.”[4] I think this a good idea, an admirable one even, but it’s just too idealistic. Maybe I’m jaded; we’ve covered so many different theories, concepts and philosophies that it just seems like we have all these great ideas that are just never going to work in the real world. But it this case Lugones’ theory sounds so hippy all about peace, love and (pardon the pun) flower power. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, in fact the hippy movement was huge spreading all over the world and maybe Maria Lugones is on to something, maybe bringing love back in to this world is what we need most for change to occur. But that movement happened at a different time with different motivations and I’m just not convinced that this “love yourself and all things around you” type of idea is practically applicable and considering the stance I took in favor of environmental pragmatism over deep ecology in my last blog, it seems only right that I can’t bring myself to agree or back something that I don’t believe is practical. Finally, Warren concludes by saying, “feminism must embrace ecological feminism if it is to end the domination of women because the domination of women is tied conceptually and historically to the domination of nature. A responsible environmental ethic also must embrace feminism.”[5] I disagree, I think that based on Warren’s argument feminism must embrace ecological feminism but a responsible environmental ethic does not necessarily have to embrace feminism. I see can agree with the point that nature has taken on a feminine connotation. However, I don’t think that this conceptual framework of oppression that has been place on nature by Warren actually necessarily stems from this connotation or association. In the end, I’m just not convinced. I’m not convinced of the connection between or the necessity to join together feminism and environmentalism. I’m not convinced that it’s the right thing to do for either movement. I’m just not convinced by Warren’s logic or arguments.

Question: I understand how the framework is technically oppressive if you climb a mountain with an “arrogant perception” but how does it necessarily fit a patriarchal conceptual framework when women interact with the environment and act as dominators and conquerors of it as well?

[1] Donald VanDeVeer and Christine Pierce, The Environmental Ethics & Policy Book (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomas Learning, 2003), 282.

[2] VanDeVeer, 279.

[3] VanDeVeer, 290

[4] VanDeVeer, 288.

[5] VanDeVeer, 291.

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