Eco-Feminism: An Introduction
This week’s readings took us through various ideological formations and paradigms of the eco-feminism discourse of social movements, which seek to elicit women’s roles and active involvement, engagement and participation in the process of social change, political, economic and cultural reformulation and as well as transitioning from an unsustainable to a more sustainable and egalitarian societies and cultures. The authors claimed that women should not only be considered the benefactors of change, but that true change can never be achieved if women are not fully involved, engaged and act themselves the preparer and implementers of such change. Mellor (1997) added that, “true social change should promote a non-gendered egalitarian society rather than what other proponents of the feminist discourse are suggesting; that is, a power-to-women paradigm (p. 6).”
Mellor (1997) takes us through the lens of some of the earliest proponents of the ecofeminism discourse, which was first coined in 1974. She added “male dominance in the production sector and the subsequent control of women’s sexuality was associated with environmental damage as well as overpopulation due to the fact that women had no control over their sexuality, since they were subjected by their male counterparts (Mellor 1997). She also argues that in order to create substantial social and cultural changes of the prevailing gendered-biased, male dominated social, economic, political and cultural order there is a need for “a planet in the female-gender” (Mellor 1997). She added that modernity is a product of this current system; that is, the social order to progress and be “modernized” has been closely linked and associated with the ecological cost of progress and that this system is entirely dominated by the western perception of family, leadership, and economic progress which can be attributed and traced to the concept of the “patriarchal man” as the social driver for the modernity crisis and its adverse ecological damages.
She also added that the earliest formulation of ecofeminism perspectives in the United States was entirely based on two distinct and interrelated concepts; that is, the first focusing on the radical, cultural and spiritual feminism orientation, which is more focus on the natural disposition of women to the natural world, while the second premised on the social constructionist theoretical framework and radical political ideology, which basically involves and constitutes the eco-anarchism and social theoretical frameworks, such as, Marxism and socialism (Mellor 1997). She asserts that unlike other ecofeminist’s movements in other parts of the world, the development of ecofeminism in the United States was basically constructed and framed on the socialist political ideological framework and paradigm.
While I was reading the materials for the week, I couldn’t but wonder in what way can the feminist movement progress in the midst of the contesting claims of the differences that underpin the conceptualization of a “universalized woman,” since the conception of difference of women in both the global “North” and “South”, “West” and the “Rest” is empirically different based on distinct cultures and ideologies. What considerations are being made to contest these claims? Is ecofeminism or feminism in general over romanticized?