It seems they both had grassroots beginnings and were, or possibly continue to be, on the fringes of society.
Well I know that within international relations, both are considered critical theories (little C little T). The epistemology of both stems from a critique of existing paradigms – both are critical of the state-centric nature of IR (I think feminism would prefer a more individual-based view, whereas green theory would prefer a more planet-based view). Feminism (and I use ‘feminism’ is an umbrella terms for multiple strands – standpoint, liberal, postmodern, even realist), is sometimes critiqued on that account itself – for being more a general critique of the flaws inherent in other theories, as opposed to soundly built upon it’s own ontological foundations.
I think the green movement is currently much more mainstream than feminism though, and by extension green theory is currently getting a lot of traction. Terms that before defined the fringe in IR – “environmental security”, for instance – are now very much a part of the mainstream discourse (within and outside of the discipline).
The ideas behind both the feminist and environmental movements are that there is an entity (men, patriarchal norms, etc) that uses power and privilege to undermine and control a marginalized community (or in the case of the environment, Earth). In both movements, there is a party that is assumed to have lesser value and be less worthy of “rights” that are afforded to and used by those in power. Throughout recorded history women have been considered unequal to men and, similarly, the Earth has been pillaged of its resources without care from some of those in power for the consequences. Also, given the fact that the Earth is often referred to as “Mother,” the linkages between the treatment of women and the Earth are paramount and would strike similar cords in the beginnings and continuation of their movements.
Actually there’s a theory called ecofeminism that seeks to understand the similarities between the feminist and environmental movement. The essential point made in this argument is that women and the environment have both experienced the same sort of domination and the chance to further advance women’s right goes hand in hand with environmental protection efforts. Another difference between ecofeminism and the traditional concept of feminism is that instead of seeking to acheive equality between men and women, ecofeminism seeks to “liberate women as women.” That’s the jist of the whole theory and tere’s plenty of literature for and against the theory. The second link I cited is a pro-ecofeminist website which I thought would be useful if you’re interested in learning more about ecofeminism.
Pbdesai was wise to discuss the ecofeminist philosophy. Starhawk is one very prominent ecofeminist activist. She facilitates Earth Activist Trainings (called EAT) and also coordinates anti-globalization protests. Her published books include The Fifth Sacred Things, The Spiral Dance, and Webs of Power. The particular philosophy of which she is a part could be more closely related to spiritual ecofeminism than simply feminist philosophy, though.
Feminism has everything to do with self-empowerment. It is women understanding and appreciating the fact that they have rights and that those rights are important to embrace. Women fought for this idea for years and in some places are still fighting for it. This is the same idea with the environment. Humans need to understand and embrace the fact that we have an impact on this earth and we have a right to treat it however we deem fit. The public has just recently begun to embrace this idea, thus companies and various groups around us are creating more eco friendly cars, computers, buildings, cities, ect. Ultimately, we all have a responsibility for empowering and embracing each other, our earth, and ourselves.
I learned about ecofeminism in a class I took called Literature and the Environment. It is an interesting theory. One problematic issue the class discussed is that in ecofeminism there is a split with other theorists called deep ecologists. Ecofeminists do not like that deep ecologists include women in their central tenet that it is human-centeredness that is the root of domination over nature. Ecofeminsts believe it is strictly a male domination that characterizes humanity’s relationship with the environment. It’s a problematic viewpoint because ecofeminists end up supporting the claim that men and women are not equal to men, where deep ecology espouses that it is all people who dominate nature. It is a very interesting debate.
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