By: Brooke Claflin
In many feminist circles, it is largely agreed upon that a middle to upper-class largely white and largely heterosexual group of women should not represent the movement as a whole. Instead many feminists have argued for an intersectional approach to feminism and on top of that have even argued that any brand of feminism that is not intersectional fails to really get to the heart of the movement. Intersectional feminism takes into account everything about a person, ranging from sexual orientation to race to socioeconomic status to religion. Thus, a successful brand of feminism bases itself on solidarity not unity because not all women share the same experiences, but all women do share the desire to be free from oppression and subjugation.
In her essay “The Power and Promise of Ecological Feminism” Karen J. Warren goes beyond the importance of inclusivity in the feminist movement and explores how the feminist and environmentalist movements are inextricably linked. Warren claims that an oppressive patriarchal conceptual framework exists in our world and that this framework serves to justify the domination of women and nature. In general, nature is seen as inferior to mankind due to its incapacity to change the world around it and, at least in western culture, women are identified with nature and the physical making them also subordinate to men. Thus, the subordination of nature and women to men are linked in their ties to the same logic of domination.
These interconnections amongst oppressed entities are important in that they are similar to the interconnections amongst different oppressed communities of women; although nature and women do not share the exact same problems, they should work together in solidarity because they are both oppressed by the same patriarchal framework of values. In general, a feminist ethic, according to Warren, ought to be an inclusive one.
In the past, I had not really considered how such distinct movements as feminism and environmentalism might be connected and probably would have even denied the existence of any such fundamental link. However, after reading Warren’s article, I now acknowledge the importance of recognizing the interconnectedness of naturism and sexism. Oppression cannot just be fought in one place for one group, but rather all the oppressed must work together in solidarity to overthrow the logic of domination that arbitrarily considers men superior. A new logic and conceptual framework of society cannot be established until the old one is completely rejected, and the oppressed come together to re-vision the world order.
Warren, Karen J. “The Power and Promise of Ecological Feminism.” Environmental Ethics: Readings in Theory and Application, edited by Katie McShane, Louis P. Pojman, and Paul Pojman, 7th ed., Cengage Learning, 2017.