January 21, This piece was originally published in Michael E. Zimmerman, J. Warren, and John Clark Eds. Karen J. Warren is a feminist philosopher who has published essays on ecofeminism and edited several special issues on ecofeminism for Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy and the American Philosophical Association, Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy.
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In this unique work, Warren succeeds in one of the first attempts to render academic ecofeminist philosophy accessible to non-academics. Such a theoretically sophisticated yet layperson-friendly explanation and defense of ecofeminism has not before been quite conceived in this way-even the activist-oriented and much less rigorous essays of the early grassroots ecofeminist movements see, e. Given that ecofeminism is now largely, though not entirely see the activism of the grassroots group Boston Ecofeminist Action: www.
Ecofeminist Philosophy is divided into nine extensive chapters that address the main questions that a newcomer to ecofeminist theory would likely encounter. Warren argues, for example, that "woman" and "nature" should be understood not as fixed, ahistorical concepts contrary to the early essentialist ecofeminist writings , but rather as socially constructed by an androcentric, anthropocentric culture. Thus, in short, it is imperative that environmentalists become feminists and feminists become environmentalists.
Her conception of ecofeminism, however, is not limited to the critique of ecological destruction, nonhuman animal exploitation and gender oppression: "Racism, classism, ableism, ageism, heterosexism, anti-Semitism, and colonialism are feminist issues because understanding them helps one understand the subordination of women" 1.
She spends the second chapter unpacking this ambitious claim by analyzing ten types of "women-other human Others-nature interconnections" There were times, however, when I felt that parts of her project where either underdeveloped or could benefit from additional analyses.
For instance, I would have found it valuable to include a more thorough and detailed analysis of the ways in which ecological domination and its ideologies intersect with, and support the oppression of, "other human Others," especially differently abled people, queer, transgendered, bisexual, lesbian, and gay people, and people of color.
Warren does include, to be sure, a number of incisive and persuasive ecofeminist analyses of racial oppression, but there were only two very brief references to ableism and only four references to heterosexism with no further investigation of queer issues.
For a theory that seems to have important things to say about all forms of oppression and domination, I was surprised that more attention was not focused on the ways in which the construction of ability and sexuality can be critiqued from an ecofeminist perspective.
It would have been useful, for example, to see a detailed ecofeminist analysis of the process by which certain types of bodies and abilities have been normalized and naturalized by an ableist culture see Wendell , and how the growing trend to investigate "queer ecologies" might, according to Chris Cuomo, "illuminate particular forms of nature-hating such as those found in fears of anality, menstrual blood, and female body hair" And I think Warren is correct to maintain that a contextual moral vegetarianism for most Westerners should include a desire to avoid "supporting practices that cause unnecessary and avoidable pain and suffering in the killing of animals; as such they should avoid factory-farm produced food.
I am nevertheless very impressed by what Warren accomplishes in this remarkable work. She presents the main arguments for ecofeminist philosophy in a readable, interesting way that remains compelling and argumentatively rigorous. Ecofeminist Philosophy will be a welcomed read for both theorists and activists who are discouraged by and disillusioned with single-issue, single-movement politics and wish to explore the crucial links between the oppression of humans and the domination of the environment.
Works Cited Cuomo, Chris J. Diamond, Irene and Gloria Orenstein, eds. Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, Donovan, Josephine and Carol J. Adams, eds. New York: Continuum, Plant, Judith, ed. Healing the Wounds. London: Green Print, Regan, Tom. The Case For Animal Rights. Berkeley: University of California Press, Singer, Peter.
New York: Avon Books, Warren, Karen J. Wendell, Susan. New York: Routledge,
Ecofeminist Philosophy : A Western Perspective on What It is and Why It Matters
She makes a number of interesting arguments in very accessible ways in chapters on vegeterianism, social justice, spirituality, and ecofeminism as a particularly Western philosophical movement. This informative overview and set of arguments about ecofeminism as a productive philosophical and social movement is a very useful resource for academic libraries. It would make an excellent introductory textbook for a class on environmental philosophy, feminist studies, or ecofeminism. It is clear and concise.
Karen J. Warren
Warren’s Introduction to EcoFeminism