What Is Ecofeminism (Cont’d)

Women in the global south are impacted by environmental degradation because the roles they play as caretakers causes them to become vulnerable to climate change.  Some places such as Africa and India lack basic resources such as clean water for food and hygiene.  Other places in Asia women are being subjected to pollution due to greenhouse gases.  Women in lower class systems suffer even more at the hands of their own government, simply for economic power and global relationships.  As women in these developing countries become environmentally exploited, it becomes harder for them to fight back.  Therefore, it is extremely important for women (and men) globally to recognize what is happening in order to construct ways to make a difference.

While both Hobgood-Oster and Warren have similar Western’s perspectives on ecofeminism, here I will only discuss a few.  Hobgood-Oster’s analysis of ecofeminism encompasses the structures in dualism of women’s oppressions; “heaven/earth, mind/body, male/female, huan/animal, spirit/matter, culture/nature, white/non-white” (Hobgood-Oster,2).  In it she addresses the inequalities to which a male dominated society has created for women.  She identifies the generational patriarchal ties of women in different cultures to that of science and religion.  Hobgood-Oster also brought up Shiva’s point, which is the “Westernized” sense of how some scholars unseemingly categorizes women’s race and by doing so “undermines” the quality of their struggle and work.  This was stated to prove her analysis of complexity to ecofeminism – it has many different discourses.  Similar to Hobgood-Oster, Warren pointed to dualism by stating “oppressive and patriarchal conceptual frameworks are characterized not only by value dualisms and hierarchies but also by “power-over ” conceptions of power and relationships of domination” (Warren).  She examined the traditional Marxist theory with “mainstream”, citing that change is needed due to the way in which women was branded with nature.  One of her Marxist comments stated “if ecofeminism is a position that recognizes that nature has value in addition to its use value to humans, or if ecofeminism asserts that more than gender-sensitive class analyses are needed to explain the interwoven dominations of women and nature, then traditional Marxist feminism will be inadequate from an ecofeminist perspective” (Warren).  Although both women talked about the “dismantling” of these frameworks, Warren laid out her eight connections which highlighted “a casual, albeit philosophically uncritical, perusal of these eight alleged connections helps to identify the range and variety of ecofeminist positions on woman-nature connections” (Warren).

On the other hand, Agarwal perspective was non-Westernized.  Agarwal analyzed what she called “conceptual issues” to which she stated “my purpose is not to critique ecofeminist discourse in detail, but rather to focus on some of the major elements” (Agarwal, 120).  In it, she agrees with some of the dualistic properties in Hobgood-Oster and Warren, to make the point that women in Third World countries suffer different due to environmental degradation.  Agarwal pointed to Shiva’s empirical perspective which was which she thought was “essentialist” because it did not paint a full picture of ecofeminism in Third World countries.  She argues that although “Shiva takes us further than the Western ecofeminist in exploring the links between ways of thinking about development, the processes of developmental change, and the impact of these on the environment and on the people dependent upon it for their livelihood….nevertheless her examples related to rural women primarily from northwest India” (Agarwal).  Agarwal dove into deep history of the castes, class and race of women in Third world countries, thereby discussing environmental changes colonial/precolonial times.

Although I valued all of the ecofeminist perspectives, the one that resonated with me the most was the non-western one to which Agarwal spoke.  There was a rawness to her analysis that showed the parallel lines to women in Third World as well as Westernized countries.  She talked about time, history and her interconnectedness to women and nature in relation to how British politics still plays a part in the development of India and other Third World countries. She mentioned the “privatization” of land by predominantly male groups; “what they termed “private-community,” that is they were private insofar as use rights to them were usually limited to members of the community and therefore exclusionary; at the same time there were communal in that such rights were often administered by a group rather than by an individual” (Agarwal, 131).   Even though Agarwal focused on India/Third World countries such as Africa, everything she says is so current even today.  Not just here in the US where gentrification is happening but also in the Caribbean, where deforestation misplaces people who lived in once lush vegetation and beautiful beaches.   When these types of devolpments take place women suffer the most.  Therefore ecofeminism has to be able to wear many hats and really look deeper into the lenses of not just their own environment but that of other women’s (men too) environments.

2 Replies to “What Is Ecofeminism (Cont’d)”

  1. Hi there! I have been trying to read the material for this past week with my Flu-fried brain and, it has been like rereading the same sentence thirty times…You are an amazing writer! You present the material so well and, even more so than that: your perception and ideas related to it. I find it interesting that the non-Western material is the piece that interested you the most. I found it really interesting myself!

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