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"Ecofeminism and Deep Ecology"
by Marti Kheel
From Reweaving the Web: The Emergence of Ecofeminism, edited by Irene Diamond and Gloria Feman Orenstein, San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1990.

"Mama Coyote Talks to the Boys"
by Sharon Doubiago
From Healing the Wounds: The Promise of Ecofeminism, edited by Judith Plant, Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1989

Background on the context in which this essay was written.

Date Readings Were Discussed: September 8, 1991
Present: Colleen M., Catherine C., Betsy D., Cathleen M., Kalisa, Cheryl L., and Lisa B.

Why do male ecologists neglect to integrate feminism in their philosophy? Claiming that "ecology consciousness is traditional woman consciousness," Doubiago chastises them for their failure to learn from the wealth of available feminist wisdom.

One woman compared the situation to that of the dominant culture, smug in its ignorance of others, while people of color have to know the white worldview inside-out in order to survive. In a similar vein, Doubiago labels such male myopia "ecomasculinism." She sees it surface in their belief that contemporary problems stem from such sources as industrialism, Eurocentrism, or capitalism, all of which are historically and philosophically subsumed under patriarchy.

Why, we wondered, do people become so apoplectic over the "P" word? Why are gender relations given such short shrift? How are paradigmatic shifts in consciousness ever going to take place, one woman asked, when the very "isms" being scrutinized are themselves patriarchal constructs? It's sort of like convening AA meetings in taverns.

Even when deep ecologists attack anthropocentrism—certainly a radical stance—Kheel's essay uncovers gender bias. To quote Kheel, "Whereas the anthropocentric worldview perceives humans as the center or apex of the natural world, the androcentric [male-centered] analysis suggests that this worldview is unique to men.

Feminists have argued that women's identities, unlike men's, have not been established through their elevation over the natural world." Kheel examines the work of three male philosophers who explore their identification with nature through hunting. They write of merging with the animal in order to realize the Self, an act Kheel maintains is distinctly masculinist. Further, she claims their desire to hunt is "of greater importance than the life of the animal they kill."

One woman voiced whether Kheel's extrapolation of three men's experience is applicable to all men, since all men do not hunt. Other women responded that the sublimated act of hunting appears in other male activities such as soldiering and sexual pursuit/conquest. Perceiving this response as yet another generalization, the same woman questioned whether men really go around equating women with nature.

Many of us exclaimed that it happens all the time. On a mundane level, hurricanes were once named after women. On a more profound note, anti-choice proponents regard women's reproductive capacities as natural resources to be controlled. The inference is that women's sexuality should be confined to procreation, as it is in the (nonhuman) animal world.

Several women criticized the authors for singling out men per se. Most women also buy into patriarchy—and surely male ecofeminists exist somewhere on the planet. One woman was very clear that whenever a discussion of gender relations takes place, the operative word needs to be "identified." A patriarchal world view is a male-identified world view, and axiomatically, it is not one held exclusively by men. This is a colossal distinction.

On a comparable level, another woman expressed extreme frustration with people who constantly confuse patriarchy-bashing with male-bashing. The frequency of this gross misunderstanding by both women and men is astounding and agonizing.

Our discussion predictably turned to the phenomena known as the men's movement. Robert Bly, male ecologists, et al, recognize an ecological urgency for men to reconnect with the feminine principle.

Despite the privilege all men derive from institutionalized male power, we agreed that men are also hurt by male supremacy. The readings, however, clarified for us the dilemma posed by men who expand their feminine self without concomitantly incorporating a feminist consciousness. Male privilege buffers men from experiencing or deeply feeling women's oppression under patriarchy, even on a vicarious level.

We welcomed men's development of their nurturing side, but wondered whether they intend to translate their inner growth into concrete improvements in our daily lives such as equal pay, day care, reproductive freedom and other basic rights. Pul-leeze, we don't need a kinder, gentler patriarchy.

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