Intersectionality and Connectivity

The ecofeminist interconnected web perspective discusses the lack of “intersectionality” in some of the writings of feminist scholars. That is, the differences any woman/ feminists (regardless to race, gender, class, etc.), have in connection to ecology and their perspective on “discrimination, oppression, and identity of women” (King, 64). For instance, an ecofeminist who was born and grew up in a Western country would have a different ecofeminist perspective, than that of one who was born in the Global South.  In the same breath, women in the Global South also have a responsibility to acknowledge differences in their own groups. Within this stance, ecofeminist intersectionality then spreads its web on to a “political perspective” where ecofeminists might advocate for democracy, freedom or solidarity. In the same arena where this is happening, we would see women of different social structures, that would form a “socioeconomic perspective”.   As it follows, women are interconnected for many different reasons but when it comes to intersectionality, these reasons become separate issues.

When discussing women in the Global South, Western feminists’ scholars tend to ethnocentrically tailor Third World women down to “victims”, because of the differences in cultural views on oppression.  From an environmental standpoint, ecofeminists in the Global South have an interconnection to land which is dominated by a hierarchal society, in the same way that women are. As we’ve learned in assignments prior to this one, women’s connection to nature definitely puts them at the forefront of dangerous circumstances. And this means that women in the Global South are subjected to exploitation, simply by protecting their land from environmental degradation due to development projects.  Compassion and empathy should be the most important aspect for Western feminists’ scholars who write about this type of oppression.  However, there tends to be an arrogance that comes across in textual depictions of Third World women.  An observation that King discussed is the “complexity” of these oppressions, in that they need to be analyzed through different lens.  In part two of Kings analysis, she describes “inaugurated intersectionality”, which is “an intra-categorical approach that focuses on particular social groups at “neglected points of intersection” (1774) and is typically used in case studies. Whereas an inter-categorical approach accepts (strategically at least) the current constitution of social groups in order to examine the changes in the inequalities between social categories, this approach is not concerned with understanding or challenging the definition or depiction of groups but rather with quantifying the relationships and inequalities between socially constructed categories” (Kings, 67).  Put this way, women’s oppression in the Global South would not be misrepresented in Western feminist discourse but by the element of “intersectionality”.  Which means that that the categorical tools that Kings mention, would thereby help us understand why subordination is not universal.

Another reason why I think it is important for ecofeminist scholars to do proper research, is to help their causes.  For instance, I learned that there is diversity in the “political perspective” of ecofeminism, “liberalism, Marxism, socialism, radical feminism, indigenous and spiritual politics, anarchism, and social ecology.  And each political perspective provides a different answer to questions about the nature of ecofeminist activism, green politics, and ecofeminism political philosophy” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). This explains that the world as well as our environment is continuously changing but it should also evolve, by showing that issues women face are not the same. Environmental policies would need to be reworked in order for them to properly facilitate women who are marginalized in all societies.  One way Kings paper makes light of this is in her example of intersectionality, described in scholastic writings from feminists such as Audrey Lorde who uses an “intra-categorical” approach that “provides an acknowledgement of the flaws within our understanding of social categories, while also recognizing the current structures of oppression and the power structures responsible for them” (Kings, 68).  Kings point is that Lorde’s analysis “intra” – from a political perspective not only reads into marginalized groups in order to understand them but also deconstructs the exploitation, in the lives of different women or social groups, regardless to race, gender, culture, etc.

“Socioeconomic” discussion in the perspective of ecofeminists scholars like Shiva, who in one instance, “inter-categorized” the lives of women in the Third World (Africa and Asia) by omitting.  SEP’s recount in Shiva’s discourse of women in Africa and Asia talks about post-colonization;  “the colonizers replaced native food crops and forests with such monoculture crops as sunflowers, eucalyptus, and teak, which were cash crops created primarily for export…By destroying subsistence economies, maldevelopment projects created material poverty where, before, there had been none.  According to Shiva, it thereby contributed to the very real “feminization of poverty”, subordination of women, and degradation of nature” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).  Even reading the entire text, there was no mention of the other aspects of feminization of poverty to which Kings explained.
In another instance, Shiva’s discourse of post-colonization somewhat conflicts with the “intra-categorical” perspective of subordination in the lives of women in India.  Kings, paper compares other Third World feminists/ ecofeminist scholarly writings such as Agarwal and Dechamma, with Shiva’s.  In it, she describes the issue that the women had with Shiva’s discourse of Third World women that she fails to mention all the facts regarding the subjugation of women.  “Agarwal and Sowmya Dechamma (2011) have noted that Shiva has ignored pre-existing inequalities such as “caste, class, power, privilege, and property relations which predate colonialism” (Agarwal in Rao 2012, 130), all of which are likely to have had a significant role in the creation of current systems of domination”.  These difference are crucial if we need to break down and understand them.

Intersectionality breaks down the perspective in ecofeminism to show that women face environmental degradation in many ways and on a global scale, women’s oppression are measured base on their environment.  Using tools such “categories” would help deconstruct different types of subordination thereby breaking the barriers that separate women on a whole.  Kings “nodal point” in turn, truly exabit that understanding one another’s background would teach us how we can lend a hand to women who need it. “It allows for the cross-examination of issues from differing theoretical backgrounds using a wide range of methodological approaches, which as part of a larger post-structuralist project: attempts to deconstruct categories and unveil the universalism at play in ecofeminist and feminist scholarship” (King, 66).

Annotated Bibliography

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Feminist Environmental Philosophy
First published Fri Aug 29, 2014; substantive revision Mon Apr 27, 2015

I chose this source because it helped me understand the different perspectives in ecofeminist philosophy. It comprised of many different areas that relate to intersectionality of ecofeminist scholars as well as background information that shed light on the writings of Kings.

State Government

Norgaard and York’s discourse is about interconnection to the exploitation of women and nature, as it relates to politics. Part of the “empirical” evaluation (male/female researchers) focused in on inequality having to do with gender and the impact it have on how women in some states are able to gain positions in parliament which allows them to push for environmental safety.  Heavy emphasis on this selection displayed how the roles of women being caretakers of the home, family and the community, plays a part in representation when it came to state environmentalism. Their analysis not only covered how the “gender gap” pertaining to the environment differed from state to state and highlighted “the numerical impact” which largely depends on economic data.  But it also showed that “if women tend to be more environmentally progressive, the inclusion of women as well as members of society – as voters, citizens, policy makers and social movement participants – should positively influence behavior” (Norgaard, York; 508). The thought process was that women would have a voice, particularly in national legislative council which could empower a more constructivist balance for gender and the environment.  However, (and as stated above) Norgaard and York argued that this view could be an optimistic one, simply because women are indeed seen as “nurturers and caretakers”, less being part of a political body.

Following part of their study, Norgaard and York’s outlook of feminist theory saw links of oppression centered on socio-economic factors (gender, race, class). A revelation of “ecofeminists links between gender and environmental behavior of nations-states goes beyond gender equality to social equality more generally” (Norgaard, York 518). The data showed a prevalence in gender inequality and environmental degradation, particularly in poor states such as Singapore, as “wealth and modernization” was above environmental protection. Whereas, states such as Norway, in spite gender differences, women were able to bring their initiative for environmental protection to policy and law. They stated that for this reason, “Norway continues to take the lead on this convention and many other environmental issues and currently has one of the highest rates of participation of women in government in the world…Singapore provides a contrast with Norway in several respects, particularly on levels of gender equality and environmental treaty ratification. Therefore, Singapore’s environmental record is generally poor, even beyond the failure of treaty ratification” (Norgaard, York; 517). They concluded their report by discussing how “global efforts aimed at developing environmental policies should therefore concentrate more on improving the status of women, including especially those efforts aimed at increasing women’s political representation” (Norgaard, York; 519).

The “Paris Agreement” is an example of how women can make a global difference in climate change/ environmental degradation. The agreement is one that was made to prevent global temperatures from rising causing damage due to carbon and other greenhouse gases. Women’s participation was critical to the agreement for many reasons including “1) Women, especially poor women in developing countries, are often the most vulnerable to climate impacts as a result of social structures and existing inequalities, 2) Women are more likely than men to engage in environmentally sensitive behaviors, such as recycling, conserving water and using environmentally friendly products, and 3) UNDP’s 2011 Human Development Report found evidence that when gender inequality is high, forest depletion, air pollution and other measures of environmental degradation are also high” (Durham, Elwell and Elliott, World Resources Institute). Another example of how women make a difference is that of the “Green New Deal” which has a plan to convert/renew energy. Similar to the Paris Agreement, it’s another example of how women right here in the US combat political environmental issues. Women like Rhianna Gunn-Wright and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez present ways in which we can combat climate change with renewable energy. The women had a heavy hand in the implementation of a bill called the “Green New Deal”. “It seeks to solve the climate crisis by combining quick action to get to net- zero greenhouse gas emissions and 100% renewable energy by 2030 along with an “Economic Bill of Rights” – the right to single-payer healthcare, a guaranteed job at a living wage, affordable housing and free college education” (Germain Starr, T;

The above examples links to Norgaard and York’s research in that women advocate for women  poor or helpless) in the fight against environmental degradation.   In both cases womens participation in politics was to influence high levels of policy making, which helped develop economic balance for the country as well as their communities.

 I chose the following statistic because it illustrates what Norgaard and York’s research found; “societies with greater representation of women in Parliament are more prone to ratify environmental treaties” (Norgaard, York; 512). This image is the opposite of what we should be seeking but it also states the facts, and although it was taken in 2017 still has not changed that much. This means that more women is needed in order for global environmental reform to take place in way that supports the needs of women, not just in the Global South but all states.


Annotated Bibliography:

Courtney Durham, Natalie Elwell and Cynthia Elliott – November 11, 2016

Courtney Durham, Natalie Elwell and Cynthia Elliott discussed how women in the Paris agreement made a difference in the negotiations.  The article also showed how the activists contributions promoted social justice for climate change.


Although abortion could be a very broad topic, I believe it mostly surrounds economic factors. On one side of the debate there is pro-choice, and on the other pro-life. While both can vary as to definitions, there is also a misconception that an abortion is essentially murder, and with stigmas like this, the choice to have an abortion or not, is not a decision that is made lightly. As I try to understand pro-life/ pro-choice, the real issue that seems to be at the forefront is “reproductive justice”. This is because, pre Roe v Wade, when women were fighting for the right to have an abortion, they were essentially fighting for equality in making decisions as well as the choice for what they want to do with their own bodies; meaning the prevention of pregnancy as well as the termination. However, it seems that these rights are not recognized as such, the focus then becomes “the want” vs. “the need” relating to abortion and the environment we are in.

According to IEP, a woman having an abortion for social or financial reasons, is not pragmatic, it is “deliberate” because “she wants to have an abortion by virtue of her bad financial and social background because she fears that she will be unable to offer the child an appropriate life perspective” (IEP). Yet without the woman having the last word I feel that this does not justify that the decision should not be hers. In her article Velanti helps to argue Pollit’s point (book), that women should be able to decide if and when the want children. In it she states that “the ability to control if and when we parent determines how we participate in society. Yes, women can be mothers while being lawyers or senators or students. But those of us who became parents after the widespread availability of birth control and the ruling in Roe v Wade were largely able to decide when to have children” (Valenti). The idea of this point is that, should a woman become pregnant she does not have to be a housewife (if that is not the path she chooses); or depend on a man or governmental help because financially she can’t provide for herself or child. The pro-choice logic here is based on “wants” and the quality of her life with or without children. And this could have to do with many factors: marriage, education, religion, culture, etc.

One of the pragmatic reasons I definitely agree with is in the case of rape. On one hand it is argued that “it would be cruel and callous to force the pregnant woman who had been raped to give birth to a child”… and on the other, the woman has no right to abort the fetus even if she had been raped and got pregnant against her will (IEP). I do not agree with the latter for the reasons given, that being “the fetus does not have rights”. The fact is that if a child is conceived by rape, then there is a high chance that if the mother gives birth and keeps the child, she would be fill with hate toward that child. And even if the child is given up for adoption, there is no telling what kind of life he/she would have. Who decides then, and where would the money come from to take care of that child? Again, this pro-choice decision should be base as a “need” mainly due to psychological impacts on the mother and child.

Although these pragmatic reasons are good ones, there is also the other side of the coin – varying circumstances. We are living in a world that is already overpopulated and this is getting worse. Hawkins partly attributes overpopulation to the effects of environmental crisis in “Third World” countries”. “A growing number of poor people are forced to make a living on increasingly marginal land, with resultant deforestation, overgrazing, soil erosion, or an assortment of other environmental problems further exacerbating their poverty and often leading them to repeat the process elsewhere” (Hawkins, 691). In it she makes light of the fact that a woman’s decision to abort is not always a good one because of improper access to do so, due to “institutional or social reasons” (Hawkins, 691). By contrast, The US is a rich state and women not only have a choice but also have rights to fight should her choices be denied. For example, most overpopulated communities here in the US are minorities – people of color, or white due to class or status. So in the fight for justice, “The Reproductive Justice movement recognizes that healthy decisions about sexuality, relationships, childbearing and childrearing are facilitated by conditions of social, political, economic and spiritual power” (National Women’s Law Center).

With all of facts that women should have the decision for pro-choice/pro-life comes with great consequences to them as well as the environment, it still does not make some conditions suitable. The true fact is that the environment is being destroyed because it is overpopulated due to environmental degradation. “Both EJ (environmental justice) and RJ (reproductive justice) reject any “solution” to the problems of poverty and environmental degradation that focus solely on individual choices rather than remedying the underlying causes. Improved socioeconomic and environmental conditions result in reduced infant and maternal mortality (National Women’s Law Center). One thing that can be done, starting right here in the US is “support the right of all parents to raise their children in healthy environments by advocating for the equitable distribution of green space, walking and biking trails, and playgrounds in low-income communities” (National Women’s Law Center).

Annotated Bibliography

The National Women’s Law Center –

The National Women’s Law Center is focused on advocating for women regardless of circumstance. This includes pro-choice/ pro-life decisions. The goal is that every woman has the right to have and raise children in a healthy environment, not one that is being destroyed.