Women and ecology

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Women and ecology



  • Man has always had a dynamic interaction with the environment. As sociologists, we are interested in the interrelationships between humans and their environment. By environment, we mean the natural environment, which includes forests, rivers, seas, mountains, plants, etc. The interaction between man and the environment has been reciprocal.


  • If patriarchal ideas pervade our thinking about society, they probably influence our thinking about the environment as well as we use the same mind, the same culture to understand both.


  • Ecology is the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It is viewed as an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary field of science, which systematically draws knowledge from several disciplines such as genetics, anthropology, sociology, etc. As sociologists we are interested in the interrelationships between human beings and their environment. By environment, we mean the natural environment which includes forests, rivers, lakes, seas, mountains, plants, etc.
  • Four factors in the environment have been important in the process of interaction. The factors are: climate, land and soil configuration, specific location i.e. desert, wooded or waterlogged areas and natural resources including forests, mining deposits and so on. These four factors have had a profound impact on human society. The culture of a society is largely determined by the environment, human

Four more shows deep influence on behavior, business, food, clothing, shelter, religion, art, morality, thoughts etc. Deep impact on their natural environment. The culture of a society, especially the quantity and quality of technology, has affected many elements in the environment.

  • In the process of industrialization technology has advanced which has been affecting the interaction between human beings and their environment. All the elements of nature like air, water, forests, rivers, plants etc. have been affected by the amount of technology used. As a result, it created problems for humans by causing pollution in the environment. New government schemes and policies have destroyed the balance between nature and society. Common people have started feeling completely uprooted and alienated when the advent of new technology and development has changed the source of their economic, social, moral, physical and mental well-being.
  • The environment in general is “Mother Nature”. We call the abuse of the environment “rape of the land”, and we call civilization the “triumph of nature”.




  • The gender of the environment in these examples, sometimes implied, sometimes explicitly stated, is female. In light of the violence of some imagery—”breaking”, “cleansing”, “rape”, and the “conquest” of female nature—these are troubling metaphors. They suggest, along with a range of other evidence, that there is an ideological connection between the supremacy of nature and the supremacy of women.


Women and Environment:


  • Women are better off where vulnerability is relatively low on all three counts – gender, poverty and environment – taken together, as in parts of southern and northeastern India. They have the highest vulnerability in three cases in parts of eastern India and are the worst off in this region as well. Involving women in conservation, promotion and regeneration of natural resources Women empowerment is important for family welfare because
  • Good for schemes like community based afforestation and its participation in regeneration and monitoring of local natural resources. Given their primary role in the collection and storage of such resources and village commons through the punch
  • Yat Raj Sansthan (PRI) where their significant presence becomes important.
  • Environmental degradation, along with its causative factors, is against sustained and sustainable development. Its worst victims are the poor and women as they have to work harder to meet basic needs, spending more energy and more hours to do so. The poor who live in resettlement in degraded forests, urban slums or industrially polluted environments cannot move or stay away from their polluting service-conditions. His poor health condition makes him even more vulnerable. Many slums have come up in low-lying areas, which fill up with untreated garbage and sewage during heavy rains. The poor there have practically no access to covered latrines.


  • Even in major cities, where municipalities have provided them with community toilets, most of them are blocked and unusable due to lack of water and negligence in maintenance. It is also seen in developed countries where black, colored and poor people have to live in polluted areas or places close to toxic dumps. Therefore, invariably, the strategy of attacking poverty must include environmental protection, restoration and enhancement.


  • Nature is an integral and intimate part of the tradition and practice in rural life. As Vandana Shiva states, “On one level Prakriti is depicted as the embodiment of the feminine principle and on another level, she is nurtured by the feminine to generate life and provide matter.” Prakriti (Prakriti) is a manifestation of energy (Shakti) which is the feminine manifestation of the creative principle of the universe. Nature is a popular symbol and through this the common woman of rural India connects herself with nature.
  • Familiar and household example can be given here, Tulsi (Tulsi) – small sacred plant – is worshiped daily in rural homes (and to a lesser extent, in backyards or in earthen pots in homes in urban areas). Chores within the Indian culture. Tulsi is sacred as a plant with beneficial and medicinal properties and is considered a symbol of Vrindavan – the universe. By her daily water and by lighting a lamp in front of her for worship, a woman reflects on her home’s connection with the universe and nature. The West views nature in the framework of the dichotomy between man and woman, and man and nature. In the Indian cosmological view, the concepts of Purusha and Prakriti, individual and Prakriti are a duality in unity. There is an ideological continuum between man, woman and nature. As stated by Shiva: “The breakdown within nature and between man and nature, and change associated with a life force that sustains an exploitable resource, is characteristic of the Cartesian (Western technocrat) approach, which displaced a more ecological worldview and created a development paradigm that simultaneously cripples nature and women.” Such a worldview has facilitated the humanization of nature and the naturalization of society. Women traditionally did the sowing, weeding and harvesting and the care of domestic animals and the milking of cows.

Has made important contribution in agricultural works like. Women are also a kind of forest-culturists and stewards of water resources. Their ecological knowledge is centuries old and a traditional storehouse




  • Of general experience. Such a role has made him appreciate the generosity of Mother Nature and the diversity of natural ecosystems. When nature is thus plundered and Mother Earth raped, it is no wonder that Indian women express their concern about the hardships caused by the scarcity of water, fuel wood, fodder and fibre. have risen to lead the ecological struggles. Nature, otherwise provides his family. The politics of scarcity is thus an act of ecological scarcity.
  • Women partner with men in traditional agriculture. Such a role has brought him in touch with nature. Women use water for human existence without disturbing the water cycle. They ensure water retention and soil fertility by using organic matter such as cow dung; Women and farmers traditionally used this type of organic material. But during the past three decades, chemistry and “masculine science” and industry have been increasingly replacing this type of work. The work of women is decreasing in the process of water conservation.
  • In areas such as Gujarat and Karnataka, commercial plantations, touted as a success story of afforestation programmes, have actually become a symbol of soil moisture depletion and land degradation. These are also areas that have been frequently and widely exposed to water scarcity and even famine. Such experience has given rise to a movement against the cultivation of Nilgiri eucalyptus to conserve water.
  • Women and farmers in the affected villages clearly see the link between vegetation and water. It could be that Cartesian, reductionist policy makers see trees only as a way to produce commercial timber, not water. But women and farmers in ecological movements see trees and wells as water producers. It is the women who participate in the water cycle every day and provide water to their families, and play an important role in preventing encroachers in forests by working closely with forest officials. Women have been the eyes and ears of village and forest communities and the hands and hearts of environmental struggles. Women and tribals have a deep knowledge of nature because of the nature of their work.
  • 18.3 Gender Differences in Experience of Nature:
  • The dualism of patriarchal logic also affects the way women and men experience their environment. Although the experience of the environment is fairly similar across Western women and men, some key differences suggest that we actually have some patriarchal stereotypes.
  • An ethnographic study of the experience of nature in an English outback village was conducted by Bell in 1980. However the similarities far outweigh the differences. The men of the village described their nature experiences to them using more aggressive, militaristic and violent imagery. Rural women emphasized a more domestic environmental perspective based on their experience of nurturing in nature. For example, men spoke of the pleasure of cleaning out bursae and releasing their pent-up aggressive feelings through engaging in visceral rural games such as “skirmishing” with guns that shoot paint balls. Simulated war is a game played in the jungle.




  • No village woman described such pleasures. Nor did any of the men in the village tell stories of nurturing nature that many women in the village had told them. For example, a village woman told a story about a family cat who helped raise two ducklings, spreading feelings of nurturing even between hunter and hunted. It’s such an incredible story that even a picture of the family with the kittens and the ducklings appeared in the newspaper.
  • But crucially, it was a story a woman had told him. Her husband, whom she knew well, never mentioned it. It was his story, not his. Instead, they told stories of Bell’s exposure to inclement weather and other difficult environmental conditions, and the physical prowess and mental toughness he displayed in the face of these conditions. Perhaps the men and women of the village told these different types of stories in line with their own expectations of what a male researcher should be told and not express their true feelings. Yet, it is important that their expectations play along such gender lines.
  • Bell stresses once again that the similarities between the men’s and women’s stories far outweigh the differences, however, he must also stress that it is not helpful to blame men for experiencing nature as they Most readers—spoken and female—seem to underestimate him. Fifth note of musical scale




  Ecology of Patriarchy:


  • These gender relations indicate a clear hierarchy with males at the top. Western thinkers have often regarded women as inferior because of their perceived closeness to nature and men as inferior in perceived higher aspects of human life.

considered superior because of their supposedly greater skill. For example, the ancient Christian philosopher Thomas Aquinas thought of women as “a necessary commodity … necessary to preserve the species or to provide food and drink”. Edmund Burke, the English philosopher of the late eighteenth century, wrote that “a woman is an animal




  • And an animal is not of the highest order. Hegel felt that “women are certainly capable of learning, but they are not made for the higher forms of science, such as philosophy and certain types of creative pursuits.” Sigmund Freud said that “women
  • family and sex life interests; The work of civilization has become more and more the business of men”.


  • It is said that women are closer to nature than men. Not only is nature feminine, but women are more natural than our traditions often suggest. We associate women with reproduction, with the natural needs of giving birth, raising children, preparing food-sticks with the domestic sphere, the sphere of social life where we participate in reproduction and physical and emotional needs. In contrast, we have traditionally associated men with production—with altering nature so that it does what we want it to do—and with the public sphere, in the realms of rationality, civilization, government, and business.
  • The social implications of such a patriarchal hierarchy are quite troubling, many authors now argue, and there are also environmental implications. By demeaning women for their stereotypical association with reproduction and nature, we encourage both female supremacy and supremacy of the environment. We can understand the relationship between women and ecology through various theoretical approaches to ecology and development in the context of women.



Theoretical Perspectives on Ecology and Evolution:


  • Ecological feminism is an approach within environmentalism, influenced by the general development of feminism. One type of feminism that does not fit into ecological feminism is ‘liberal diversity’. This does not require the dissolution of patriarchal society, which is promiscuous.


  • A theoretical paradigm on ecology and development is presented, where the origins and consequences of ecological degradation, the dual role of culture and politics in moderating this process, the conditions under which such politics are mobilised, and the ideals and interests of Due role has been covered.


  • Theoretical models provide answers to the limits of their continued relevance to environmental questions.


Ecological Feminism:


  • He says ‘argument’, first that man/human is different from woman/nature, second that they are superior to them, and therefore justified in dominating them. However, ecological feminism, says Warren, denies that differences imply the superiority of justified supremacy. During the 1970s and since, debate within ecofeminism has focused on two major schools of thought: cultural/radical eco-feminism and social eco-feminism (Plumwood refers to the latter as ‘socialist/anarchist’ eco-feminism). called feminism).


  • Ecological feminism is an approach within environmentalism, influenced by the general development of feminism. One type of feminism that does not fit into ecological feminism is ‘liberal diversity’. This does not require the dissolution of patriarchal society, which is promiscuous. that is, it wants women to play the same and equal roles as men; It is still in a society dominated by the values of aggression, competition and materialism.


  • As Plumwood (1992) reminds us, liberal feminism’s approach to nature is unacceptable to the ecologist, for Mary Wollstonecraft’s (advocating the rights of women, 1792) theory that humans, for this reason, Superior and different are the realms of brutal creation (which lacks logic). So it would put women together with men in a project of dominating nature.
  • In contrast, ecofeminists are united in a central belief in the necessary convergence between women and nature. This is, first of all, because their biological makeup is essentially




  • Associates women more than men, with the natural functions of reproduction and nurturing. Second, women and nature have in common that they are exploited by men and marginalized economically and objectively and politically. Some believe that this general oppression developed intensively during the Enlightenment, a ‘reason hegemony’ (Warren: 1990), which prepared for hierarchical, dualistic thinking.



Patriarchal Dualism :

  • Ecological feminists advocate a different form of reasoning, one that recognizes gray areas and interdependence, and one that recognizes difference without creating hierarchies. They want us to be able to make clear distinctions that respect the diversity and interconnectedness of the world and that do not rely on autocratic, mechanical and hierarchical boundaries.
  • But patriarchy also leads to environmental oppression of men, even those from preferred social groups.



  • Patriarchal vision of masculinity making men machines

It inspires us to take unwise risks with plants, chemicals, the weather and the land. as a result men often die or become


  • Disabled and diseased. Thus, we all have an interest in changing the present social order.
  • A core tenet of ecofeminism is that our cultural climate of supremacy is built on dualism – morally charged, opposing categories with little gray area in between – that deny interdependence. Thus, man is man, and woman is woman. Nature is nature, and culture is culture. Our dualism is entrenched in a larger cultural system of domination, ecological feminists like Plumwood argue. Culture versus nature, reason versus nature, man versus woman, mind versus body.


  • Machine versus body, master versus slave, reason versus emotion, public versus private, self versus other, in each dichotomy, the first member of each pair dominates the other. The core dichotomy, Plumwood writes, is “the ideology of reason’s control over nature”.
  • Ecological feminists suggest that the tendency to separate anti-world pairs is more a Western legacy than a logic of supremacy.



Cultural/Radical Ecological Feminism:

  • Writing of the problems of ‘our mother, Gaia’, epitomized by Pietila (1990:232) cultural/radical ecological feminism. They can be resolved by a ‘culture of women’, which provides ‘practical and philosophical guidelines for sustainable development’. This culture will be based on ancient myths linking women and nature, mother and earth in a cooperative relationship: Carey
  • Engaging, nurturing, mutual giving and receiving. Since menstrual cycles follow the phases of the moon, and fertility follows the rhythm of the seasons, then ‘women feel themselves to be part of the eternal cycle of birth, growth, maturity, and death that passes through them. Flows, not outside them’. Ecological feminism, similar to Daly’s (1987), celebrates women’s ‘closeness’ to nature. Collard (1988) advocates a return to the earth goddess-worshipping, non-hierarchical matriarchy that allegedly characterized some ‘traditional’, ‘primitive’ societies.



  • This trans-feminism then states that ‘women’s culture’ is concerned with the body, flesh, material, natural processes, emotions and subjective feelings, and private life. In contrast, ‘male culture’ emphasizes mind, intellect, reason, culture, objectivity, economics and public life. It continually tries to overcome the natural constraints on what humans can do:


  • Men constantly fight to conquer, exploit and mold nature, leave their mark behind and thus achieve a form of immorality and superiority. Merchant (1982) describes how Francis Bacon and the Royal Society resolved to reveal the ‘mystery still closed in her bosom’ and to ‘conquer’ and ‘subdue’ her (Earth). New female reproductive technologies, developed by men, are said to constitute a continuation of this dual domination in the form of its most high technology (Shiva: 1992).
  • Cultural eco-feminism means freeing nature from the oppressive male ethos to respect it as the sustainer of life, to balance the ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ characteristics in people and societies (Capra: 1982). This can be achieved in several ways. Women, individually and in groups, can discover and celebrate and affirm their authentic selves. Such awareness raising may need to exclude males on the grounds that they can exert negative influence on it while it is still nascent and before it is strong enough to resist male domination . Then there may also be the celebration of pagan myths and rituals, and associated pastimes such as tarot cards and astrology, which reaffirm respect for Mother Nature and the essential interconnectedness of humans and nature.




This latter leans towards New Age thinking and some green and feminists (especially of the social variety) reject it. As Plumwood argues, the whole idea of ‘connecting with nature’ can be regressive and degrading, portraying women as passive reproductive animals who are immersed in the body and mindless experience of life. Behl (1991) attacks cultural feminism as apolitical (since it rejects traditional politics due to its hierarchical power relations), anti- and home- and nature-worshipping, from a ‘social ecology’ perspective.


Some problems of cultural ecological feminism:


Eckersley (1992) outlines some of the problems of cultural ecological feminism. First, if it claims that women have a ‘special relationship’ with nature based on their biological role (birth, parenting), then men should have a ‘low type of relationship with nature’ because of their biology. ‘ can be permanently censured for.


In fact, men increasingly involve themselves in the nurturing of the young, thus a departure from the Western male cultural stereotype.

Second, if a ‘special relationship’ is claimed on the basis of general oppression by men, this is also problematic, as Western societies

Women are not the only oppressed group in India. In fact, it can be argued that under capitalism men are oppressed. Patriarchy can neither explain casteism or class oppression.

Third, it is difficult to prove that patriarchy is responsible for the exploitation of both women and nature. As Levine (1994) observed, it is a ‘vague and loose argument’ to suggest that simply because both woman and nature are dominant, they are still the same cause.


As Eckersley states, there may be similarities in the logic or symbolic structure of different types of dominance, but this does not provide that the two come from the same source. Indeed, many ‘traditional’ societies in harmony with nature are actually patriarchal (Young: 1990). Therefore, liberating women may not automatically liberate nature, and vice versa.

Fourth, any cultural/radical feminism that seeks to elevate a female stereotype instead of a male stereotype is problematic because both stereotypes are lacking. If one is hyper-rational/analytical, the other is less-rational/analytical


Controversy over Ecofeminsim:

Ecological feminism remains a controversial viewpoint. Much of the debate has surrounded the attempt by some ecological feminist writers to destroy Western patriarchy by defending its morality.




polarity. These authors propose that women and their association with nature should be celebrated. Breeding, nurturing, sensitivity to emotions, closeness to nature and the body—all these things are inherently good, the argument goes. Women should embrace these qualities, not reject them. It is the flip side of patriarchy’s dualism—reason, civilization, machine—that has made things so messed up.


Critics both inside and outside the ecofeminism movement say that such a position reflects the very social system that needs to be changed. This perpetuates the dichotomy between men and women, as well as negative stereotypes of women as irrational, controlled by their bodies, and best suited for the domestic realm.


Critics also argue that this amendment is isolated and fatalistic because it implies that biological differences between men and women are at the root of patriarchy. Such a position suggests that Deborah Slicker is, at best, an ecofeminine and not an “ecofeminist”.

Another criticism of ecofeminist arguments is that they can exaggerate the exclusivity characteristic of Western thought, such as supremacy arguments. Evidence doesn’t tell. Also, Eastern cultures have shown themselves to be quite capable of dominating nature. Either the “logic of supremacy” that drives both our social and our environmental actions must not be exclusively Western, or the East must have its own logic of supremacy.


Consider the cultural association of women with nature and men with culture. In fact, dualism often goes the other way, aligning women with culture and men with nature. Since Victorian times, a common stereotype of women has been that they are bearers of culture and sophistication and that they are responsible for instilling “civilization” in the next generation and in men. A common current stereotype of men is that they are wild animals driven by carnal and violent passions, whom women must tame for the sake of themselves and their children. Also many spirits that various Western (and non-Western) traditions sense in the physical environment are depicted as male: the father, the sky, the Greek sun god Apollo, and the ocean god Poseidon, the notion of “fatherland”. .

Ecological feminists themselves point out; Exactly, we need to recognize the gray areas and the reciprocity and interdependence of our categories. Unless we constantly remind ourselves of the dialogue of categories, the dialogue of difference and similarity,




We easily slip into one-sided, deterministic and hierarchical arguments. And as ecological feminists have also observed, when one surveys the world with a one-sided, deterministic and hierarchical frame of mind to begin with, the chances of slipping that way are even greater.

However, our complaint with dualism should not be that it is wrong to make categories and distinctions. We need categories to recognize difference and thus to build our theoretical and ethical understanding of the world. But we also need better categories than the hierarchical, socially unjust, and environmentally destructive categories of patriarchy.


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Problem of necessity:


Mellor (1992), from a Marxist feminist perspective, denounces any fatalistic talk of biological sex or the historical universals of essential human nature. The historical materialism of Marxism, in contrast, argues for clear constraints on human development and creativity (‘human nature’, ‘the nature of men’, ‘the nature of women’, ‘the limits of nature’, ‘the nature of the environment’) mostly Affairs are actually socially rather than biologically constructed. Thus, in different historical periods, the perceived constraints of cultures and economic modes of production were either different.

c form, or they may not appear to be relevant at all. And, most important, since they are socially constructed, they can be socially changed—they are therefore not ‘necessary’. This imperative versus social construct debate is just another version of the old arguments—nature versus nurture/culture, or determinism versus free will.

It follows that ecological feminism, if it is not to downplay the impossibility of doing anything, or simply that hierarchical patriarchy should be replaced by hierarchical matriarchy,




Don’t fall into the trap of necessity.

Essentialism is the belief that abstract entities or universal entities as well as instances and examples we meet and time also exist. According to Holland-Kunze (Kuletz: 1992), essentialism, whether expressed implicitly or explicitly, is the ‘core problem’ of ecofeminism. Essentialism can argue that there have always been power hierarchies, patriarchy, and the exploitation of women and nature, in economic modes of production and cultures, across different historical periods. And, it would insist, reason lies in a universal, deterministic abstract principle, such as Hierarchy- One; An essential feature of all societies that keeps re-emerging regardless of different cultural, economic and social structures and systems. Alternatively the human being is powerless to free himself from patriarchy; No matter how much they have changed their society, it will reappear.



Using tarot cards, retracing the moon, looking at pre-historic societies to see if they were matriarchal and nature-worshipping—all are part of this trap, because they are equally unchanging masculinities. Opposites suggest an unchanging, inherent femininity.

Avoiding the trap is sometimes difficult. Warrant (1990), for example, appears to reject essentialism by emphasizing that it is culturally and historically different in the context of patriarchy, but then backtracks on that when she says that all forms of domination still ‘located in an oppressive patriarchal framework’. ‘, which means that there is a universal patriarchy – the root problem.


Similarly, King (1989) and Plumwood (1990) seek to negate essentialism and the idea of a ‘gender self’ by focusing on apparently socially constructed (and therefore socially changeable) gender roles and stereotypes. Yet no one completely abandons the idea of a uniquely feminine-nature link. As Evans (1993: 184) states, “It is difficult to see how the link between women (rather than individuals) and nature can be made without including biological reproduction as key.


Materialist Social Ecology Feminism:

Holland-Kunze believes that social (socialist anarchist) ecological feminism draws from non-mainstream European utopian socialism, classical anarchism, early Marx, Engels’s Dialectic of Nature, Morris’s News from Nowhere, and the Frankfurt School of Neo-Marxism. Picks up several traditions in principle. They all insist that the exploitation of nature is related to exploitation in society, emphasizing the social and political rather than personal aspects of the domination of women and nature. Social ecological feminism opposes essentialism in general and biological determinism in particular. The ‘nature’ of men and women is considered a political/ideological category. And the oppression of women is associated with the oppression of class, race and species (Warren: 1990). But social ecological feminism also rejects some of Marxism’s crude economic class reductionism; It does not accept that the oppression of women is only a special case of the exploitation of the ‘proletariat’, or that the establishment of socialism would automatically mean an end to the oppression of women in nature.

But while it rejects and biological determinism, according to Mailer, it should not ignore the ‘reality of the biological and ecological’, which includes the reality that motherhood is something that is exclusively the female role (and especially ostensibly male role). , fact, like the physical limits and constraints of ecological systems, cannot




Be fully absorbed within the social.

Mellor seeks to modify or ‘reconstruct’ Marxist theory to create a socialist ecological feminism. If, she argues, the way we organize ourselves to achieve material subsistence (relation of production) plays an important role in shaping society (see Pepper: 1993: 67-70), the same Just like us, we must organize ourselves physically in order to continue as a species. (i.e. in relation to reproduction). ,


If the means of existence produce certain social relations and particular forms of consciousness, why not the means of reproduction?” Industrial production should provide ideas and values for shaping an alternative (socialist) society. These ideas and values Are altruistic: These involve taking immediate responsibility for meeting the needs of others.



Mellor is using here the notion of ‘attitude’, which links ideas and values to their socio-material context. It accepts that any ‘objective, true’ reality

Does not sell Our approach to knowledge—history, politics, economics, or our relationship with nature—is different from various physical approaches. The perception of men is colored by their lives in capitalism, where they produce goods and services primarily for profit to be exchanged as commodities in the market. Women’s perceptions and values will be very different. Their immediate experience in domesticity values utility (in the broadest sense_ work and sensual activity, not profitability (Harstock: 1987). The dominance of capitalist relations in Western society ensures that the male perspective mediates all knowledge. Nature Its view of nature as an object would triumph over the feminine view of oneness with nature.

Revising marks is the key, says Mellor.


According to Marx’s basic theory, labor is one of the forces of production along with nature. That labor is predominantly male labor. But within it is hidden female labor. Many men can work their working hours simply because women are there to run the home and family, thus freeing up men’s time. Socialist relations of reproduction, in contrast, would equalize men’s and women’s time in different roles. In sum, Mellor argues that “an ecological feminism that does not embrace socialism would be the same theoretically and politically as an ecological feminism that does not embrace feminism”.



  Idealist Social Ecological Feminism:

Others often attribute more than idealism to the construction of social ecological feminism.


Mellor’s strict materialist analysis for the distinction between idealism and materialism). For example, Ruther (1975) believes that the basic model of relationship in a society

Hierarchy is hierarchical, so women must unite with the environmental movement to reshape the ‘underlying values of this society’, i.e. its prevailing ideas, which perpetuate hierarchical organization and domination.

According to Plumwood, one of the major misconceptions in our disorganization is the tendency to dualism in our thinking, so that, for example, imagining that there is a fundamental difference between society and nature suggests that they are separated. Which makes it easier for the former. to exploit the latter. Eckersley (1992:69) believes that patriarchy is a subset of the ‘more general problem of philosophical dualism that has pervaded Western thought’. Both are arguing that it is a particular approach to knowledge—a set of ideas rather than an economic and social system—that is responsible for actions harmful to nature.

Eckersley is at pains to point out how ecofeminism strongly aligns with deep ecology. The need for both to understand themselves and to feel their connectedness with a larger whole is emphasized. Both seek personal contact and familiarity with the natural world. And both are closely related to anarchism.

Holland-Kunze (Kuletz: 1992) describes how feminist utopian literature of the 1970s (eg Ursula LeGuin: 1975; Marge Pearcy: 1979) came to the conclusion that the only society without patriarchy would be a decentralized, ecological one. needed. The ecofeminist utopia is also non-hierarchical and directly democratic, practicing rural subsistence through small-scale technology.


Women and Development:

Ecofeminism shares with socialism an internationalist mindset opposing the oppression of women around the world. It recognizes that women, not men, are the backbone of ‘production’ as well as ‘reproduction’ in the Third World. In rural societies, prior to full ‘development’ (modernization and large-scale urbanisation), women raise families, run households, grow crops and produce many more children, so they are the epitome of ecotourism that applies to this station. Meaning, pushing women first to be involved in decision-making about how land is used and who controls it. Women have protested land appropriation by the government and (Western) commercial firms. So far, they are the backbone of




Chipko movement. Be it the people who own the land, and who have fallen prey to the modernization model.

However, many women in the Third World have been co-opted by modernization. They help provide the cheap labor that builds completely unsuitable dams and nuclear power stations. They assemble hi-fis, CDs and TVs for Western consumers, and (unwittingly and often unwillingly) contribute to creating mass unemployment in the West because they work for so little money.


Ecological feminism opposes the modernization model, and opposes the ‘women in development’ style movement (Simmons: 1992). It was the last of the 1970s liberal feminism initiatives that looked forward to joining the world market by increasing women’s access to paid employment. However, in the 12980s, many Third World women instead adopted a ‘by-pass’ strategy: establishing enterprises and movements that attempted to exclude international capital (such as Chipko, South American

Freaky Cooperatives, ‘Green Zones’ in Mozambique, Cooperatives in India). Hence, he supported local development. In India, most ecological knowledge lies in the hands and minds of women, so their struggle for development that is an alternative to Western modernization is also a struggle for ecologically sustainable development (Shiva: 1988).



  Women and Environment Leadership:

Some of the most important leaders of the modern environmental movement have been women. In an ideal world this would be no reason for special notice, but in the world we have we still generally have males dominating the leadership of government, business and social movements. Thus, it is important to underline the prominence of women in modern environmentalism, women such as author and biologist Rachel Carson in the United States, former Green Party leader Petra Kelly in Germany, author and social critic Vandana Shiva in India, and sustainable development advocate Gros Bruntland, former prime minister of Norway. Indeed, women have been the most influential advocates of the environmental movement.

But these women’s global roles should not overshadow the equally important roles played by women in local environmental leadership. Perhaps the most famous example of a woman leading a local environmental movement in the development world is Lois Gibbs, founder of the Love Canal Homeowners Association.

A ten-year-long struggle against the Narmada river dam projects in India has begun.


It was headed by Medha Patkar, a forty-year-old woman. Hundreds of thousands of people will be displaced by the dams, including about 320,000 from the project’s largest dam, Sardar Sarovar. Also Narmada is the most sacred river in Hindu tradition. But World Bank funding was available to a Nati

separate government for the power of industrialisation, and the project went ahead despite vigorous opposition from local people and indeed much of the world. Medha Patkar has led the Narmada Bachao Andolan, the Narmada Bachao Andolan. She has testified, gone on hunger strike, disobeyed police orders, and been arrested several times. In a particularly dramatic incident, he and several other leaders of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, threatened with water surrender, committed suicide by drowning in the water, which is obstructed by the still-under-construction Sardar Sarovar Dam. At the last moment, the Indian government conceded to most of the group’s demands, and the water surrender was withdrawn. Finally, the Indian Supreme Court suspended work on the dam in 1995, pending a review. The work of the Narmada Bachao Andolan is not over and neither is the civil clearing house for hazardous waste. But the strength and determination of Lois Gibbs, Medha Patkar and thousands of women and men like them have already achieved much for which millions can be grateful.



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