Karen J. Warren is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Macalester Collegein St. Paul, Minnesota. Her main philosophical interests are in ethics,feminism (particularly ecological feminism), and critical thinking. Shehas taught or conducted workshops on philosophy, environmental ethics, andcritical thinking for grades K-12, college and university audiences, inprisons, and for public and civic groups. She has guest-edited a specialissue of Hypatia: A Feminism Journal of Philosophy on "Ecological Feminism"(Spring 1991, vol. 6, no. 1) and three special issues of the American PhilosophicalAssociation Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy, and co-edited the sectionon 'Ecofeminism' for Environmental Philosophy: From Animal Rights to RadicalEcology (Michael Zimmerman, general editor, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, PrenticeHall, 1993). In addition to this volume for Routledge, she is currentlycompleting an anthology entitled Ecofeminism - Multi-disciplinary Perspectivesfor Indiana University Press, and she and Jim Cheney are coauthoring a bookentitled Ecological Feminism: A Philosophical Perspective on What It Isand Why It Matters (Denver, CO, Westview, forthcoming).The two essays that follow are Karen Warren's 1996 book Ecological Feminist Philosophies,
Indiana Univ. Pr., Bloomington 137 ISBN 0-253-21029-1
TOWARD AN ECOFEMINIST PEACE POLITICS
Consider several scenarios offered by Jo Vellacott in her 1982 work,'Women, peace, and power,' which link violence with resourcelessness:
I am a member of an oppressed minority; I have no way of making you listento me; I turn to terrorism. I am a dictator, yet I cannot force you to thinkas I want you to. I fling you in jail, starve your children, torture you.I am a woman in a conventional authoritarian marriage situation; I feelhelpless and inferior and powerless against my husband's constant undermining;so I in turn undermine him, make him look foolish in the eyes of his children.Or I am a child unable to prevent her parents' constant quarrelling andto defend herself against her mother's sudden outbursts of rage. I smashsomething precious and run away, or I take to thieving or I may even killmyself. Or I am the President of the United States; with all the force atmy command I know of no way to make sure that the developing nations especiallythe oil-rich nations will dance to my rune; so I turn to the use of foodas a political weapon, as well as building ever more armaments. Violenceis resourcelesssness. (Vellacott 1982: 32)
Vellacort characterizes violence in terms of resourcelessness. It isan innovative and provocative way to begin to rethink the notions of peaceand violence. By making considerations of power central to discussions ofresourcelessness, one can begin to see violence as a sort of power playwhereby there is dominance, conquest, manipulation, mastery, or other formsof social control exercised by some (individuals or institutions) over othersor the non-human natural environment. The scenarios offered by Vellacottsuggest that people in subordinate positions often turn to violence whenthey feel helpless, powerless, do not see, or genuinely do not have otherviable options for gaining or exercising control in their lives. Whereaspeople in dominant positions, e.g. presidents and dictators, also may rumto violence when they cannot make others do what they want them to do whenthey want them to do it, the issue is raised whether people in dominantpositions, by virtue of being dominant, have other viable options than violence.'Violence is resourcelessness.' In so far as violence involves a failureto see or utilize options other than power over subordinates, or power toachieve sought-after ends, violence does seem to be a failure to use orbe (nonviolently) resourceful. What, then, are the connections between violence,power, and systems of domination or subordination? The scenarios given byVellacott suggest to me that there are important connections between howone treats those in dominant positions ('dominates' or 'Ups') and how onetreats those in subordinate positions ('subordinates' or 'Downs') in unjustifiedsystems of dominance and subordination which any adequate feminist or ecofeministpeace politics must address. In this chapter I suggest that, at least inWestern societies, these connections he ultimately in patriarchy. I proposethat overcoming patriarchy requires an ecofeminist peace politics, and concludeby sketching the nature of such a politics. My goal here is as much suggestiveas argumentative: using the metaphor of theorists as quilters and theory-buildingas quilting (see Warren 1990), 1 suggest what at least some patches of anecofeminist peace quilt must look like, what threads might be used to sewthe different patches together, and why a multilayered or multi-tiered theoryrather than a universal, univocal theory of violence is necessary to anyecofeminist peace politics. I do this without specifying what the actualdesign of any particular ecofeminist peace quilt does or must look like.In fact, as I hope will become clear, the metaphor of theory-budding asquilt-making engaged in by particular quilters in particular historical,socioeconomic circumstances is deliberately intended to challenge the morefamiliar view of theory-building in terms of abstract, ahistorical, necessary,and sufficient conditions whose terms apply equally and with equanimityto all individuals, regardless of their position in dominant-subordinatestructures. As an aside, it also thereby challenges popular philosophicalpositions such as just War Theory or 'War realism" which assume a univocaltheory of necessary and sufficient conditions which justify war and theviolence war involves.
Feminism and patriarchy
All feminists are committed to exposing and eliminating sexism what Imean by "male-gender privilege and power.12 Many feminists have successfullyargued that sexism is intimately connected to other 'isms of domination,'e.g. racism, classism, heterosexism, militarism; ecological feminists haveextended these analyses to include "naturism," or the unjustifiedexploitation of the natural environment (see, for example, Frye 1983; Shiva1988; Plant 1989; Warren 1990). While I do not defend those feminist andecofeminist claims here, I do assume that seeing these connections and understandingtheir significance is crucial to the development of an adequate peace politics.My focus in this chapter is on those conceptual connections of special interestto philosophers in order to clarify some of the interconnecting, mutuallyreinforcing roles that conceptual connections play in maintaining and justifyingunjustified systems of domination and subordination.
Patriarchy is the systematic, structural unjustified domination of womenby men. Patriarchy consists of those institutions (including, in a Rawlseansense, those policies, practices, positions, offices, roles, and expectations)and behaviors which give privilege (higher status, value, prestige) andpower (power-over power) to males or to what historically is male-genderidentified, as well as a sexist conceptual framework needed to sustain andlegitimize it. At the heart of patriarchy is the maintenance and justificationof male gender privilege and power (that is, power-over power).
One way to understand power is in terms of resourcefulness: power isthe ability to mobilize resources to accomplish desired ends (Kanter 1977:116). People who lack power or who are in some respects 'powerless"(e.g. 'a child unable to prevent her parents' constant quarrelling') lackthis ability to mobilize the requisite resources (e.g. to stop the quarrelling)in ways which do not reinforce structures of domination and subordination.What, then, is "power-over power'? There are at least five importantsenses of "power'; whether or not the exercise of any of these instancesof power is oppressive or justified is an open question.
(1) Power-over power serves to maintain, perpetuate, and justify relationsof domination and subordination by the coercive use or threat of force,imposition of harms and sanctions, expression of disapproval or displeasure,or restriction of liberties of the Downs by the Ups. This power-over powermay be overt or covert, individual or institutional, intentional or unintentional,malicious or benevolent; its key feature is that it is exercised by Upsover Downs.
(2) Power-with power shares or maintains coalitionary, solidarity,or other relatively equalizing power relations with others; it is the sortof "coalition building' power or 'solidarity' power people share withothers. Sometimes this power-with power is liberating, for example whena rainbow coalitionary 'politics of difference' recognizes 'the other' asdistinct, different, unique, perhaps even indifferent to one's presence,while nonetheless based on a commitment to the intrinsic value, equality,worth, or independence of the other (Warren 1990). This is a sort of "solidaritythrough respect for difference,' rather than "unity through sameness'view of 'power-with power' towards another that is not oppressive. Coalitionarypolitics used to mobilize resources to keep intact the oppression of someothers is oppressive, e.g. the coalitionary politics between the Ku KluxKlan and certain religious groups.
(3) Power-within power is about 'innerresources'; it may be life affirming or life-denying, contribute to life'smanageability or unmanageability, ecological sustainability or unsustainability.When such power is exercised in self or other-respecting ways, it can bean 'empowering' relationship (e.g. some forms of ecofeminist spirituality)(Warren 1993); when it is exercised in life-destroying ways, it can be adestructive relationship (e.g. active anorexia nervosa or wanton destructionof the earth's .resources').
(4) Power-towards power is the sort of powerindividuals and groups of individuals exercise when they make changes intheir lives, when they give up something for something else, when they movefrom something to something else. It can be liberating, e.g. when one letsgo of harmful habits or behaviors (such as smoking or forest clear-cutting)and moves toward more healthful behaviors (such as appropriate exercise,ecologically sensible forest management), or non-liberating, e.g. when onemoves towards over-consumption of food and natural 'resources.'
(5) Power-againstpower is reserved for what is left. It is the power exercised by Downs againstUps in an already existent Up Down set of relationships. I say more aboutthis sort of power in a moment.
A use of power is appropriate or morally permissible when it is exercisedto produce needed or desired change in ways which do not create or maintainoppressive relationships of dominance and subordination. For example, when'power-with power' is the power of the Ku Klux Klan in coalition with theJohn Birch Society, the sort of power exercised may be successfully designedto keep intact oppressive relationships of dominance of white, Euro-Americansover African Americans. They would thereby fail the test. In contrast, the'power-with power' shared by feminists, peace activists, and environmentalistsmay, in fact, challenge and be designed to challenge relationships of dominanceof humans over non-human nature. They would thereby pass the test. In sofar as patriarchy sanctions, perpetuates, and justifies oppressive 'power-over'relationships, patriarchy involves the illegitimate uses of power. To seehow patriarchy creates, maintains, and sanctions justifiable uses of power-overrelationships, consider the nature of patriarchal conceptual frameworks.
Patriarchal conceptual frameworks
I have argued elsewhere (Warren 1987, 1990) that a 'conceptual framework'consists in those basic beliefs, values, attitudes, and assumptions whichshape and reflect how one views oneself and one's world. It is a sociallyconstructed lens through which one perceives oneself and one's world. Aconceptual framework is 'oppressive' when it functions to explain, justify,and maintain systems and relationships of domination and subordination.A 'patriarchal conceptual framework" is an oppressive conceptual frameworkwhich functions to explain, justify, and maintain the subordination of womenby men. There are five interrelated characteristics of an oppressive, includingpatriarchal, conceptual framework:
(1) value-hierarchical ('Up-Down') thinking,which places higher value, prestige, or status on what is "Up' (e.g.men, whites, heterosexuals) than on what is 'Down' (e.g. women, Americansof color, gays, and lesbians);
(2) value dualisms ("either-or"thinking) which organize reality into oppositional (rather than complementary)and exclusive (rather than inclusive) pairs, and which place higher value,prestige, or status on one member of the pair (e.g. dualisms which givehigher status to 'mind,' 'reason.' and 'male" in alleged contrast andopposition to that which is 'body.' 'emotion," and "female,"respectively);
(3) power-over conceptions of power which function to maintainrelations of dominance and subordination;
(4) conceptions of privilege whichsystematically advantage Ups in Up-Down relationships; and, most importantly,
(5) a logic of domination, that is, a structure of argumentation which justifiesrelations of dominance and subordination on the grounds that superiority(or being 'Up') justifies subordination (or being 'Down'). Within a patriarchalconceptual framework, difference breeds domination. It is the last characteristicof patriarchal conceptual frameworks, a logic of domination, which 'justifies'power-over power relations within patriarchy. A logic of domination legitimatesthe unequal distribution of power in ways which serve to reinforce and maintainsystems of oppression: who or what is 'Up' is who or what has power overothers. The justification of the Ups' power over the Downs' typically isgiven on grounds of some alleged characteristic (e.g. reason or rationality)which the Up or dominant group (e.g. men) have which the Down or subordinategroup (e.g. women) lacks. So it is easy to find out who deserves to be Up:it is whomever is Up! A logic of domination is necessary to maintain andjustify patriarchy. Since all feminists oppose patriarchy, all feministsmust oppose a logic of domination. Furthermore, power-over relationshipsare wrong in so far as they are oppressive, and they are oppressive in sofar as they presuppose, maintain, or sustain a logic of domination. A caveatis in order. Note what a rejection of a logic of domination does and doesnot say. it does say that superiority does not justify subordination, thatdifference does not justify domination, even if superiority and differenceare conceded. It thereby rules out a moral justification for power-overrelationships of domination and subordination. It also does say that power-overrelationships of domination maintained by the "Up" group to keepthe "Down" group down are unjustified. What it does not say iswhat the 'Down' group is justified in doing to end its domination by the"Up" group. It may well be, for instance, that people "Down'in an "Up-Down' hierarchy of power and privilege are justified in usingwhatever means are necessary, including violence, to get their legitimateneeds met. (A new twist on the familiar just War Doctrine that permits violenceby the Downs but not by the Ups.) This might be defended on the groundsthat, as 'Downs,' they lack the relevant privilege and power (that is, accessto resources) necessary to exercise power-over relationships of dominationtoward the dominant group, and thereby are not covered by the principleprohibiting use of oppressive power-over relationships of control and dominationby 'Up" groups. How, then, does one talk about "power" exercisedby "Downs" against "Ups"? This is part of what the fifthsense of "power," power-against power, is meant to capture. 'Power-against"power presupposes socioeconomic situations or relationships of dominanceand subordination; it is the sort of power used by those who are, or whoperceive themselves to be, "Downs" against 'Ups." Lackingaccess to the requisite resources and options of 'Up" groups, whateverpower is exercised by 'Downs' against "Ups" is exercised in thelarger context of oppressive Up-Down hierarchies of power (that is, power-overpower of 'Ups") and privilege. In the case of power-against power exercisedby "Downs" against "Ups,' it is left open whether such exercisesof power are ever justified. (Perhaps violent exercises of power by Blacksin Apartheid may be justified even if violence against Blacks by white supremacistsin Apartheid is not ever justified.) In any case, the standard for assessingthese power-against power relationships is the same as for power-over powerrelationships: they cannot be used to perpetuate, maintain, or justify oppressionor oppressive systems, relationships, or conceptual frameworks. When poweragainstpower relationships do that, they too are unjustified.
Patriarchalism refers to any ideology, attitude, prejudice, or behaviorwhich functions to sanction, perpetuate, or justify patriarchy, patriarchalconceptual frameworks, and oppressive power-over relationships of power(that is, roughly, (l)-(3) above). Patriarchalism is both the symptom andevidence of unjustified male gender power and privilege over women, thatis, sexism.
An ecofeminist peace politics
An ecofeminist peace politics is a repudiation of patriarchalism anda commitment to the development of anti-patriarchalist philosophies andpractices. In what follows I offer suggestions for conceiving an ecofeministpeace politics. I do so by conceiving of feminist theory and feminist theory-buildingon the metaphor of quilting: individual persons located in different historicaland socioeconomic circumstances who quilt quilts (or patches for quilts).The quilts (or patches) tell unique, individualized stories about the quiltersand the circumstances of their lives; they are candidate patches for a larger,global mosaic an ecofeminist quilting-the-making in much the way that theAIDS memorial quilt is a patchwork of 10,500 panels of individual quiltswhich record and commemorate lives lost to AIDS. Like the AIDS Names Quilt,an ecofeminist peace politics quilt collectively represents and recordsthe stories of people of different ages, ethnicities, affectional orientations,race and gender identities, and class backgrounds committed to nonviolence,or (as we shall now see) appropriate resourcefulness. As feminist quilts,the ecofeminist peace quilts I envision have no jointly necessary and sufficientconditions which define them. Nonetheless, they are feminist quilts. Asfeminist quilts, there are some necessary conditions, what I prefer to call'border' or 'boundary' conditions, which each quilt must satisfy. They functionlike the boundaries of a quilt. They delimit the territory of the piecewithout dictating what the interior, the design, the actual pattern of thepiece looks like. I offer them here without attempting to defend them. Myhope is that what I have said already is adequately suggestive of what theymean and why I might think they are true. An ecofeminist peace quilt hasa number of features.
(1) First and foremost, it opposes all 'isms of domination," e.g.sexism, racism, classism, ageism, ableism, anti-Semitism, hetero sexism,ethnocentrism, naturism, and militarism (that is, the unjustified use ofmilitary power-over power to maintain relationships of domination by Upsover Downs). Stated differently, no 'isms of domination' belong on an ecofeministpeace quilt, including any policies and practices (for instance, clear cutting,factory farming, toxic pollution by industrial complexes) which cause unnecessaryharm to the non-human natural environment.
(2) It makes visible how 'isms of domination" are maintained and reinforcedby patriarchalism, especially the explanatorily basic role played by a logicof domination in maintaining and perpetuating patriarchal conceptual frameworks.In environmental contexts, the extent to which the assumptions of orthodoxforestry that "the outsider knows best' e.g. that the Western foresteror Western PhD ecologist sent to rural India to solve India's tree shortageproblem knows best without knowing anything about "women's indigenoustechnical knowledge" (ITK) or including women in the decision-makingprocess about the future of indigenous multiple species tree populationsreinforces patriarchalism and, in fact, bad environmental policy and practiceimposed by Ups on Downs.
(3) It reconceives theory as theory-in-process. Theory-building is alwaysundertaken within a set of historical, socioeconomic, environmental circumstancesand particular conceptual con texts. It does not conceive of theory as somethingstatic, ahistorical, non-ecological, or "good for all times.' Nor doesit conceive of theory-building in 1994 as a gender-neutral, universalizingattempt to specify the "essence" of a feminist peace politics,since it is assumed that, in contemporary patriarchal culture, there eitheris no such "essence," or, if there is, it is not currently knowableby any human. As a consequence, what is ecologically feasible and justifiedin one part of the globe may not be in another part; whether any actionis ecologically feasible will depend on whether it contributes to the maintenanceof structures or situations of dominance and subordination. For example,the environmental effects of the Persian Gulf War become crucially relevantin any assessment of the justification of that war.
(4) It is structurally pluralistic, rather than structurally reductionistor unitary: it emerges from a multiplicity of voices, especially women'svoices (and women's ITK), across cross-cultural con texts. As such, it affirmsdifference in an inclusivist and non-dominating way by making a centralplace for difference that does not breed domination and inferiorization.Recognizing and honoring the voices of the disenfranchised (dominated, oppressed)is one step in redistributing power and privilege, since it recognizes thatwho has voice and the privilege to exercise their voice in their own voiceis about who has what power. In environmental contexts, this condition requiresthat the perspectives of local, native, and indigenous peoples be takeninto account in the formation of any adequate environmental action; to overlooksuch perspectives is to engage in non-peacemaking.
(5) It assesses the claims of an ecofeminist peace politics partly in termsof their anti-patriarchalist inclusiveness: those claims are morally, epistemologically,and politically favored (preferred, better, less biased) which are moreinclusive of the felt experiences and perspectives of oppressed personsfrom a non-patriarchalist perspective. Those claims which exclude or conflictwith such perspectives are viewed as more biased, more partial, less preferred.So, failure to include what women know about food as producers of at least60 percent of the world's food, or what women know about the root crop cassavaas those who do loo percent of the processing of the crop containing naturalcyanide, or the role of women and children in the collection and distributionof unpotable water when designing water irrigation systems, pumps, filtersystems, or collection systems 12 is to perpetuate patriarchalist, non-inclusivistbias.
(6) It exposes and challenges uses of power which function to maintain,perpetuate, and justify "isms of domination" and other oppressiverelationships. As such, it rules out power-over relations of dominationexercised by the 'Up" group to control, manipulate, or in any otherway keep down the "Down" group. Notice that, on this view, the"Ups" always have other options to domination, namely rejectingUp-Down socioeconomic hierarchies by shedding the privilege of being Upand redistributing socioeconomic power in ways that create non-oppressivepower-with and power-within opportunities for the Down groups. In environmentalcontexts, this would certainly require recognizing and ending the UnitedStates' grossly disproportionate percentage (roughly, one-quarter) of theearth's natural resources" by radically altering our current patternsof over-consumption at the expense of the people and countries of the Southernhemisphere ('the South').
(7) It conceives of humans as essentially, and not accidentally, sociallyconstructed beings-in-relationships; whatever uniqueness, peculiarity, orindividuality humans properly may be said to have is viewed in terms oftheir being beings-in-relationships (rather than vice versa). This mightbe put by describing particular individuals as unique 'knots' in a web ofrelationships.
(8) Because of 7, it makes a central place for considerations of care,appropriate reciprocity, friendship, kinship, appropriate trust, and lovein addition to whatever place more traditional considerations of rights,utility, or fairness have in contexts of justice. These considerations centralize'relationship' or .relational" values which apply to and describe humansin relationships to others, including the nonhuman natural environment.
(9) It provides a place for 'psychologies" and 'theologies (or, spiritualities)of liberation' as part of a theoretical and practical antidote to patriarchalismin the pre-feminist present. In this respect, it respects ways in whichemotions and spiritualities may be appropriate, non-oppressive tools ofempowerment, power-with others, and power-against 'Up' groups by 'Downs'in Up-Down hierarchies. 10 It provides a guide to action in the pre-feministpresent. This condition ensures that a feminist peace politics is serviceablewithin patriarchy, even while, as a feminist project, it is aimed at dismantlingpatriarchy (in the future).
Realizing an ecofeminist feminist peace politics
How, then, can one begin to realize an ecofeminist feminist peace politicsin the pre-feminist and patriarchal present? One place to begin is to buildon feminist projects already begun in other contexts. I conclude by notingthe relevance of three such projects to discussions of sexism, naturism,and nuclearism.
(1) First, feminists have provided powerful critiques of dominant Westernconceptions of reason, rationality, and rational behavior (Cohn 1989: 129,n. 5; Warren 1989). These critiques need to be extended to show how so-called'rational behavior' towards women, nature, and nuclear issues, as well asthe dominant discourse language associated with each, is patriarchalist.Consider, for instance, the way in which Vance Cope-Kasten unpacks the dominationmetaphors, sexist language, and sexual rhetoric of standard philosophicaldescriptions of arguments, good reasoning, and rational decision-making(Cope-Kasten 1989). Good reasoners knock down arguments; they tear, rip,chew, cut them up; attack them, try to beat, destroy, or annihilate them,preferably by nailing them to the wall. Good arguers are sharp, incisive,cutting, relentless, intimidating, brutal; those not good at giving argumentsare wimpy, touchy, quarrelsome, irritable, nagging. Good arguments havea thrust to them: they are compelling, binding, air-tight, steel-trap, knock-down,dynamite, smashing, and devastating bits of reasoning which lay things outand pin them down, overcoming any resistance. 'Bad' arguments are describedin metaphors of the dominated and powerless: they 'fall flat on their face,'are limp, lame, soft, fuzzy, silly, and 'full of holes." Similar critiqueshave been provided, especially be ecofeminists, of the language used todescribe women, nature, and nuclear weaponry (see, for example, Adams 1990;Cohn 1989; Strange 1989). Women are often described in animal terms (e.g.as cows, foxes, chicks, serpents, bitches, beavers, old bats, pussycats,cats, birdbrains, hare-brains), sexual terms (e.g. as lays, fucks, screws,cunts) and plaything terms (e.g. as babes, dolls, girls, pets) terms whichcontribute to viewing women as inferior, not fully rational, and child-like.just as women are naturalized in the dominant discourse, so, too, is naturefeminized. 'Mother Nature' is raped, mastered, conquered, mined; her secretsare 'penetrated" and her 'womb" is to be put into service of the'man of science." Virgin timber is felled, cut down; fertile soil istilled and land that lies fallow is 'barren,' useless. Language fuses women'sand animal's or nature's inferior status in a patriarchal culture. We exploitnature and animals by associating them with women's lesser status, and,conversely, dominate women by associating women with nature's and animals'inferior status. As Carol Adams argues so persuasively in The Sexual Politicsof Meat, language which feminizes nature and naturalizes women describes,reflects, and perpetuates oppression by failing to see the extent to whichthe twin dominations of women and nature, especially of animals, are, infact, culturally analogous and not simply metaphorically analogous (Adams1990: 61). Stereotyping through "power dualisms of domination'14 occurswith both women and nature in language that is both sexist and naturist.Nuclear parlance employs 'nature language.' Nuclear missiles are storedon 'farms,' 'in silos." That part of the submarine where twenty-fourmultiple warhead nuclear missiles are lined up, ready for launching, iscalled 'the Christmas tree farm'; BAMBI is the acronym developed for anearly version of an antiballistic missile system (for BAllistic MissileBoost Intercept). Nuclear parlance also uses female imagery, often in conjunctionwith naturalizing metaphors, to describe and refer to nuclear weaponry andstrategies. In her wonderfully illuminating article, 'Sex and death in therational world of defense intellectuals,' Carol Cohn describes her one yearimmersion in a university's center on defense technology and arms control.She relates a professor's explanation of why the MX missile is to be placedin the silos of the new Minuteman missiles, instead of replacing the older,less accurate ones: "because they're in the nicest hole you're notgoing to take the nicest missile you have and put it in a crummy hole' (Cohn1989: 133). Cohn describes a linguistic world of vertical erector launchers;thrust-to-weight ratios, soft lay downs, deep penetration, penetration aids(devices that help bombers of missiles get past the "enemy's' defensivesystem, also known as apenaids"), the comparative advantages of protractedversus spasm attacks or what one military advisor to the National SecurityCouncil has called 'releasing 70 to 80 percent of our megatonnage in oneorgasmic whump" where India's explosion of a nuclear bomb is spokenof as 'losing her virginity' and New Zealand's refusal to allow nuclear-armedor nuclear-powered warships into its ports is described as 'nuclear virginity'(Cohn 1989: 133-7). Such language and imagery creates, reinforces, and justifiesnuclear weapons as a kind of sexual dominance. The incredible distortionsof nuclear parlance are reinforced by such misnomer's as Ronald Reagan'sdubbing the MX missile 'the Peacekeeper,' terminology whereby 'clean bombs'are those which announce that 'radioactivity is the only 'dirty' part of@g people' (Cohn 1989: 132) and the Pentagon position that human deathsare only "Collateral damage' (since bombs are targeted at buildings,not people). Such distortions leave little room for acknowledging, in nuclearparlance, a total disregard for the effects of nuclear technology on thenatural environment or the objectionable female sexual domination metaphorsused to describe and justify the deployment of nuclear weapons. An ecofeministfeminist peace politics can build on this important work already being donewith regard to sexism, naturism, and nuclearism by showing how this languageand imagery grows out of and perpetuates patriarchalism. Under patriarchalism,naturist-sexist language provides a historical justificatory strategy fordomination (Adams 1990: 82).
(2) Feminists also can draw on the work of psychologists, theologians,and philosophers who reveal the psychological dimensions of 'isms of domination."For example, consider "nuclearism,' defined by Robert Jay Lifton andRichard Falk in their book Indefensible Weapons as 'the psychological, political,and military dependence on nuclear weapons, the embrace of nuclear weaponsas a solution to a wide variety of human dilemmas, most ironically thatof 'security' ' (Lifton and Falk 1982: ix). Nuclearism is 'the embrace ofthe bomb as a new 'fundamental,' as a source of 'salvation' and a way ofrestoring our lost sense of immortality' (Lifton and Falk 1982: 87). Liftonand Falk describe nuclearism as .a disease" (Lifton and Falk 1982:ix) and "an addiction' (Lifton and Falk 1982: 113), which only canbe ended through 'nuclear awareness":
Nuclear awareness has certain specific requirements. It means breakingout of the illusory system ... extricating ourselves from our deadly dependenceon and worship of the weapons, extricating ourselves from nuclearism. Thisprocess is psychologically difficult because our relationship to ... nuclearismhas had the quality of an addiction. Addiction is always a life-death pattern.That is, one's emotions become so invested in one's relationship (or 'connection')to a particular object that all vitality and attachment one's existenceitself are at stake in that relationship. (Lifton and Falk 1982: 112-13)
For Lifton and Falk, nuclear awareness involves abandoning so-called'rational discourse' and 'rational deliberation' about nuclear war, recognizingthat the 'psychological is also profoundly political,' and challenging andovercoming 'the power base of these illusions.' In a similar vein, PaulaSmithka argues that sexism, naturism, nuclearism, and other 'isms of domination'are symptoms of the disease of dissociation by which humans attempt to severtheir relationships with others and with nature (Smithka 1989). In the terminologyintroduced here, patriarchalism constructs one's perception of the "other'as inferior, permits the psychological and conceptual distancing (dissociation)of "the other,' and justifies the inferiorizing of 'the other.' Supposenuclearism is indeed an 'addiction," as Lifton and Falk claim, or unhealthydissociation, as Smithka claims - partly psychological conditions. How doesone recover from it? Addictions and dissociation ultimately involve faultybeliefs which, for recovery to occur, must be seen and rejected (Warren1990). Nuclear awareness, then, involves seeing the insanity of nuclearconfrontation. For a feminist peace politics, this involves seeing the patriarchalistbiases of nuclear parlance (in addition to whatever other biases must beseen). The case is the same for sexism, racism, classism, naturism, andany other 'isms of domination' based on faulty belief systems what I havecalled oppressive and patriarchal conceptual frameworks. They must be seento be rejected. @t is involved in seeing and breaking through the addictions,the illusions, the dissociation? To employ the familiar language of recoveryfrom addictions such as alcoholism, to recover from nuclearism and other'isms of domination' we can and must now, in the pre-feminist patriarchalpresent, choose to become recovering nuclearists, recovering naturists,recovering sexists and racists. And we can start to do that by seeing andchanging the faulty patriarchalist thinking that underlies and sustainsthese 'isms.' Seen in terms of the psychological phenomena of dissociation,addiction, or dysfunctional systems generally, then, patriarchalism mightbe also viewed as ecofeminist Charlene Spretnak views it: as a primary,progressive, terminal disease, the 'logical" because predictable consequenceof which could quite literally be the death of the planet.11 Seen from apsychological perspective, nuclear madness needs to be taken seriously asa madness, that is, as a craziness which has delusion, denial, and dissociationat its core. 16 An ecofeminist feminist peace politics would help exploreand clarify the nature of the conceptual, psychological and behavioral tiesof nuclearism and other 'isms of domination' to this flawed thinking patriarchalism.
(3) Feminists can begin to develop analyses of violence and nonviolencewhich show the interconnections among kinds of violence: violence againstthe self (e.g. anorexia and bulimia, suicide); violence against others (e.g.spousal and child abuse, rape); violence against the earth (e.g. 'rape ofthe land"); perhaps even global, systemic, economic violence (e.g.poverty). This would involve showing ways in which patriarchalism underliesall such kinds of violence and itself breeds violence. A.n ecofeminist peacepolitics also could explore conceptions of nonviolence in terms of appropriateand resourceful uses of emotions, thereby underscoring the political andmoral significance of emotions. Consider, for instance, anger. The presenceof anger as a felt emotion often announces 'I deserve better!' 'No; stopthis!" An appropriate use of anger, like an appropriate use of power,is resourceful and respectful when it produces needed change ('is resourceful')while at the same time challenging and refusing to adopt oppressive, disrespectful,or dysfunctional attitudes or behaviors.' The use of anger is inappropriatewhen it is used to shame, manipulate, or otherwise attempt to dominate orcontrol another being (human or non-human). It is this notion of the appropriateuse of anger which is at the root of Pam McAllister's claim that feministnonviolence involves the merging of 'rage with compassion,' the offeringof respect toward oneself and the oppressor, on the one hand, and a refusalto cooperate with or adopt the oppressor's violent power-over ways, on theother hand. McAllister writes,
The peculiar strength of nonviolence comes from the dual nature of itsapproach the offering of respect and concern on the one hand and of defianceand stubborn noncooperation with injustice on the other. Put into the feministperspective, nonviolence is the merging of our uncompromising rage at thepatriarchy's brutal destructiveness with a refusal to adopt its ways ...to focus on rage alone wig exhaust our strength ... force us to concedeallegiance to the path of violence and destruction. On the other hand, compassionwithout rage renders us impotent, seduces us into watered-down humanism,stifles our good energy... By combining our rage with compassion, we livethe revolution every day. (McAllister 1982: iii-iv)
McAllister's conception of nonviolence makes a central place for theappropriate, respectful, and empowering ("power-within' and .power-with")uses of anger. The appropriate use of anger is thereby a healthy responseto Teamed helplessness,' 'learned victimization,' "blaming the victim,'and experiences of resourcelessness that contribute to people being stuckin oppressive, addictive, or otherwise dysfunctional systems or relationships.Taking emotions seriously, as McAllister does, could be very helpful tothe development and practices of an ecofeminist peace politics.
I began this chapter with several scenarios linking violence with resourcelessness.Looking back, just what does a feminist peace politics contribute to anunderstanding of "Violence as resourcelessness'? I have suggested thatthe answer lies in the nature of patriarchalism, and the power-over relationshipsit justifies. What an ecofeminist feminist peace politics does is challengethe very conceptual framework necessary to sustain Up-Down relationshipsof domination, and the presumed legitimacy of uses of violence by the 'Up"group as a means of control over the 'Down' group. It also provides waysof explaining why people in 'Down' positions may turn to violence to attemptto gain power in their lives and situations within oppressive systems. Whatan ecofeminist peace politics does, then, is expose patriarchalism and provideanti-patriarchalist solutions in the pre-feminist present. An ecofeministpeace politics is a quilt worth quilting now.
KAREN J. WARREN
INTRODUCTION Ecological feminism (ecofeminism) has begun to receive afair amount of attention lately as an alternative feminism and environmentalethic.' Since Francoise d'Eaubonne introduced the term ecofeminisme in 1974to bring attention to women's potential for bringing about an ecologicalrevolution,' the term has been used in a variety of ways. As I use the termin this paper, ecological feminism is the position that there are importantconnections-historical, experiential, symbolic, theoretical-between thedomination of women and the domination of nature, an understanding of whichis crucial to both feminism and environmental ethics. I argue that the promiseand power of ecological feminism is that it provides a distinctive frameworkboth for reconceiving feminism and for developing an environmental ethicwhich takes seriously connections between the domination of women and thedomination of nature. I do so by discussing the nature of a feminist ethicand the ways in which ecofeminism provides a feminist and environmentalethic. I conclude that any feminist theory and any environmental ethic whichfails to take seriously the twin and interconnected dominations of womenand nature is at best incomplete and at worst simply inadequate.
FEmINISM, ECOLOGICAL FEMINISM, AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORKS
Whatever else it is, feminism is at least the movement to end sexistoppression. It involves the elimination of any and all factors that contributeto the continued and systematic domination or subordination of women. Whilefeminists disagree about the nature of and solutions to the subordinationof women, all feminists agree that sexist oppression exists, is wrong, andmust be abolished. A "feminist issue" is any issue that contributesin some way to understanding the oppression of women. Equal rights, comparablepay for comparable work, and food production are feminist issues whereverand whenever an understanding of them contributes to an understanding ofthe continued exploitation or subjugation of women. Carrying water and searchingfor firewood are feminist issues wherever and whenever women's primary responsibilityfor these tasks contributes to their lack of full participation in decisionmaking, income producing, or high status positions engaged in by men. Whatcounts as a feminist issue, then, depends largely on context, particularlythe historical and material conditions of women's lives. Environmental degradationand exploitation are feminist issues because an understanding of them contributesto an understanding of the oppression of women. In India, for example, bothdeforestation and reforestation through the introduction of a monoculturespecies tree (e.g., eucalyptus) intended for commercial production are feministissues because the loss of indigenous forests and multiple species of treeshas drastically affected rural Indian women's ability to maintain a subsistencehousehold. Indigenous forests provide a variety of trees for food, fuel,fodder, household utensils, dyes, medicines, and income-generating uses,while monoculture-species forests do not.' Although I do not argue for thisclaim here, a look at the global impact of environmental degradation onwomen's lives suggests important respects in which environmental degradationis a feminist issue. Feminist philosophers claim that some of the most importantfeminist issues are conceptual ones: these issues concern how one conceptualizessuch mainstay philosophical notions as reason and rationality, ethics, andwhat it is to be human. Ecofeminists extend this feminist philosophicalconcern to nature. They argue that, ultimately, some of the most importantconnections between the domination of women and the domination of natureare conceptual. To see this, consider the nature of conceptual frameworks.A conceptual framework is a set of basic beliefs, values, attitudes, andassumptions which shape and reflect how one views oneself and one's world.It is a socially constructed lens through which we perceive ourselves andothers. It is affected by such factors as gender, race, class, age, affectionalorientation, nationality, and religious background. Some conceptual frameworksare oppressive. An oppressive conceptual framework is one that explains,justifies, and maintains relationships of domination and subordination.When an oppressive conceptual framework is patriarchal, it explains, justifies,and maintains the subordination of women by men. I have argued elsewherethat there are three significant features of oppressive conceptual frameworks:(1) value-hierarchical thinking, i.e., "up-down" thinking whichplaces higher value, status, or prestige on what is "up" ratherthan on what is "down": (2) value dualisms, i.e., disjunctivepairs in which the disjuncts are seen as oppositional (rather than as complementary)and exclusive (rather than as inclusive), and which place higher value (status,prestige) on one disjunct rather than the other (e.g., dualisms which givehigher value or status tothat which has historically been identified as "mind," "reason,"and "male" than to that which has historically been identifiedas "body," "emotion," and "female"): and (3)logic of domination, i.e., a structure of argumentation which leads to ajustification of subordination.' The third feature of oppressive conceptualframeworks is the most significant. A logic of domination is not just alogical structure. It also involves a substantive value system, since anethical premise is needed to permit or sanction the "just" subordinationof that which is subordinate. This justification typically is given on groundsof some alleged characteristic (e.g., rationality) which the dominant (e.g.,men) have and the subordinate (e.g., women) lack. Contrary to what manyfeminists and ecofeminists have said or suggested, there may be nothinginherently problematic about "hierarchical thinking" or even 11value-hierarchical thinking" in contexts other than contexts of oppression.Hierarchical thinking is important in daily living for classifying data,comparing information, and organizing material. Taxonomies (e.g., planttaxonomies) and biological nomenclature seem to require some form of "hierarchicalthinking." Even "value-hierarchical thinking" may be quiteacceptable in certain contexts. (The same may be said of "value dualisms"in non-oppressive contexts.) For example, suppose it is true that what isunique about humans is our conscious capacity to radically reshape our socialenvironments (or "societies"), as Murray Bookchin suggests.' Thenone could truthfully say that humans are better equipped to radically reshapetheir environments than are rocks or plantsa "value-hierarchical"way of speaking. The problem is not simply that value-hierarchical thinkingand value dualisms are used, but the way in which each has been used inoppressive conceptual frameworks to establish inferiority and to justifysubordination.' It is the logic of domination, coupled with value-hierarchicalthinking and value dualisms, which "justifies" subordination.What is explanatorily basic, then, about the nature of oppressive conceptualframeworks is the logic of domination. For ecofeminism, that a logic ofdomination is explanatorily basic is important for at least three reasons.First, without a logic of domination, a description of similarities anddifferences would be just that-a description of similarities and differences.Consider the claim "Humans are different from plants and rocks in thathumans can (and plants and rocks cannot) consciously and radically reshapethe communities in which they live: humans are similar to plants and rocksin that they are both members of an ecological community." Even ifhumans are "better" than plants and rocks with respect to theconscious ability of humans to radically transform communities, one doesnot thereby get any morally relevant distinction between humans and nonhumans,or an argument for the domination of plants and rocks by humans. To getthose conclusions one needs to add at least two powerful assumptions, viz.,(A2) and (A4) in argument A below:
(Al) Humans do, and plants and rocks do not, have the capacity to consciouslyand radically chance the community in which they live.
(A2) Whatever has the capacity to consciously and radically change thecommunity in which it lives is morally superior to whatever lacks this capacity.
(A3) Thus, humans are morally superior to plants and rocks.
(A4) For any X and Y, if X is morally superior to Y, then X is morallyjustified in subordinating Y.
(A5) Thus, humans are morally justified in subordinating plants and rocks.
Without the two assumptions that humans are morally superior to (at leastsome) non-humans, (A2), and that superiority justifies subordination, (A4),all one has is some difference between humans and some nonhumans. This istrue even if that difference is given in terms of superiority. Thus, itis the logic of denomination, (A4), which is the bottom line in ecofeministdiscussions of oppression. Second, ecofeminists argue that, at least inWestern societies, the oppressive conceptual framework which sanctions thetwin dominations of women and nature is a patriarchal one characterizedby all three features of an oppressive conceptual framework. Many ecofeministsclaim that, historically, within at least the dominant Western culture,a patriarchal conceptual framework has sanctioned the following argumentB:
(BI) Women are identified with nature and the realm of the physical;men are identified with the "human" and the realm of the mental.
(B2) Whatever is identified with nature and the realm of the physicalis inferior to ("below") whatever is identified with the "human"and the realm of the mental: or, conversely, the latter is superior to ("above")the former.
(B3) Thus, women are inferior to ("below") men; or, conversely,men are superior to ("above") women.
(B4) For any X and Y, if X is superior to Y, then X is justified in subordinatingY.
(B5) Thus, men are justified in subordinating women.
If sound, argument B establishes patriarchy, i.e., the conclusion givenat (B5) that the systematic domination of women by men is justified. Butaccording to ecofeminists, (B5) is justified by just those three featuresof an oppressive conceptual framework identified earlier: value-hierarchicalthinking, the assumption at (B2): value dualisms, the assumed dualism ofthe mental and the physical at (B1) and the assumed inferiority of the physicalvis-A-vis the mental at (B2); and a logic of domination, the assumptionat (B4), the same as the previous premise (A4). Hence, according to ecofeminists,insofar as an oppressive patriarchal conceptual framework has functionedhistorically (within at least dominant Western culture) to sanction thetwin dominations of women and nature (argument B), both argument B and thepatriarchal conceptual framework, from whence it comes, ought to be rejected.Of course, the preceding does not identify which premises of B are false.What is the status of premises (BI) and (B2)? Most, if not all, feministsclaim that (BI), and many ecofeminists claim that (B2), have been assumedor asserted within the dominant Western philosophical and intellectual tradition.'Assuch, these feminists assert, as a matter of historical fact, that the dominantWestern philosophical tradition has assumed the truth of (BI) and (B2).Ecofeminists, however, either deny (B2) or do not affirm (B2). Furthermore,because some ecofeminists are anxious to deny any ahistorical identificationof women with nature, some ecofeminists deny (B1) when (B1) is used to supportanything other than a strictly historical claim about what has been assertedor assumed to be true within patriarchal culture-e.g., when (B1) is usedto assert that women properly are identified with the realm of nature andthe physical.' Thus, from an ecofeminist perspective, (B1) and (B2) areproperly viewed as problematic though historically sanctioned claims: theyare problematic precisely because of the way they have functioned historicallyin a patriarchal conceptual framework and culture to sanction the dominationsof women and nature. What all ecofeminists agree about, then, is the wayin which the logic of domination has functioned historically within patriarchyto sustain and justify the twin dominations of women and nature. Since allfeminists (and not just ecofeminists) oppose patriarchy, the conclusiongiven at (B5), all feminists (including ecofeminists) must oppose at leastthe logic of domination, premise (B4), on which argument B rests-whateverthe truth-value status of (BI) and (B2) outside of a patriarchal context.That all feminists must oppose the logic of domination shows the breadthand depth of the ecofeminist critique of B: it is a critique not only ofthe three assumptions on which this argument for the domination of womenand nature rests, viz., the assumptions at (BI), (B2), and (B4); it is alsoa critique of patriarchal conceptual frameworks generally, i.e., of thoseoppressive conceptual frameworks which put men "up" and women"down," allege some way in which women are morally inferior tomen, and use that alleged difference to justify the subordination of womenby men. Therefore, ecofeminism is necessary to any feminist critique ofpatriarchy, and, hence, necessary to feminism (a point I discuss again later).Third, ecofeminism clarifies why the logic of domination, and any conceptualframework which gives rise to it, must be abolished in order both to makepossible a meaningful notion of difference which does not breed dominationand to prevent feminism from becoming a "support" movement basedprimarily on shared experiences. In contemporary society, there is no one"woman's voice," no woman (or human) simpliciter: every woman(or human) is a woman (or human) of some race, class, age, affectional orientation,marital status, regional or national background, and so forth. Because thereare no "monolithic experiences" that all women share, feminismmust be a "solidarity movement" based on shared beliefs and interestsrather than a "unity in sameness" movement based on shared experiencesand shared victimization." In the words of Maria Lugones, "Unity-notto be confused with solidarity-is understood as conceptually tied to domination."11Ecofeminists insist that the sort of logic of domination used to justifythe domination of humans by gender, racial or ethnic, or class status isalso used to justify the domination of nature. Because eliminating a logicof domination is part of a feminist critique-whether a critique of patriarchy,white supremacist culture, or imperialism-ecofeminists insist that natureismis properly viewed as an integral part of any feminist solidarity movementto end sexist oppression and the logic of domination which conceptuallygrounds it.
The discussion so far has focused on some of the oppressive conceptualfeatures of patriarchy. As I use the phrase, the "logic of traditionalfeminism" refers to the location of the conceptual roots of sexistoppression, at least in Western societies, in an oppressive patriarchalconceptual framework characterized by a logic of domination. Insofar asother systems of oppression (e.g., racism, classism, ageism, heterosexism)are also conceptually maintained by a logic of domination, appeal to thelogic of traditional feminism ultimately locates the basic conceptual interconnectionsamong all systems of oppression in the logic of domination. It thereby explainsat a conceptual level why the eradication of sexist oppression requiresthe eradication of the other forms of oppression." It is by clarifyingthis conceptual connection between systems of oppression that a movementto end sexist oppression-traditionally the special turf of feminist theoryand practice-leads to a reconceiving of feminism as a movement to end allforms of oppression. Suppose one agrees that the logic of traditional feminismrequires the expansion of feminism to include other social systems of domination(e.g., racism and classism). What warrants the inclusion of nature in these"social systems of domination"? Why must the logic of traditionalfeminism include the abolition of "naturism" (i.e., the dominationor oppression of non-human nature) among the "isms" feminism mustconfront? The conceptual justification for expanding feminism to includeecofeminism is twofold. One basis has already been suggested: by showingthat the conceptual connections between the dual dominations of women andnature are located in an oppressive and, at least in Western societies,patriarchal conceptual framework characterized by a logic of domination,ecofeminism explains how and why feminism, conceived as a movement to endsexist oppression, must be expanded and reconceived as also a movement toend "naturism." This is made explicit by the following argumentC:
(CI) Feminism is a movement to end sexism.
(C2) But sexism is conceptually linked with naturism (through an oppressiveconceptual framework characterized by a logic of domination).
(C3) Thus, feminism is (also) a movement to end naturism.
Because, ultimately, these connections between sexism and naturism areconceptual-embedded in an oppressive conceptual framework-the logic of traditionalfeminism leads to the embracement of ecological feminism.
The other justification for reconceiving feminism to include ecofeminismhas to do with the concepts of gender and nature. just as conceptions ofgender are socially constructed, so are conceptions of nature. Of course,the claim that women and nature are social constructions does not requireanyone to deny that there are actual humans and actual trees, rivers, andplants. It simply implies that how women and nature are conceived is a matterof historical and social reality. These conceptions vary cross-culturallyand by historical time period. As a result, any discussion of the "oppressionor domination of nature" involves reference to historically specificforms of social domination of non-human nature by humans, just as discussionof the "domination of women" refers to historically specific formsof social domination of women by men. Although I do not argue for it here,an ecofeminist defense of the historical connections between the dominationsof women and of nature, claims (B1) and (B2) in argument B, involves showingthat within patriarchy the feminization of nature and the naturalizationof women have been crucial to the historically successful subordinationsof both." If ecofeminism promises to reconceive traditional feminismin ways which include naturism as a legitimate feminist issue, does ecofeminismalso promise to reconceive environmental ethics in ways which are feminist?I think so. This is the subject of the remainder of the paper.
CLIMBING FRom ECOFEMINISM To ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS
Many feminists and some environmental ethicists have begun to explorethe use of first-person narrative as a way of raising philosophically germaneissues in ethics often lost or under-played in mainstream philosophicalethics. Why is this so? What is it about narrative which makes it a significantresource for theory and practice in feminism and environmental ethics? Evenif appeal to first-person narrative is a helpful literary device for describingineffable experience or a legitimate social science methodology for documentingpersonal and social history, how is first-person narrative a valuable vehicleof argumentation for ethical decision making and theory building? One fruitfulway to begin answering these questions is to ask them of a particular first-personnarrative. Consider the following first-person narrative about rock climbing:
For my very first rock climbing experience, I chose a somewhat privatespot, away from other climbers and on-lookers. After studying "thechimney," I focused all my energy on making it to the top. I climbedwith intense determination, using whatever strength and skills I had toaccomplish this challenging feat. By midway I was exhausted and anxious.I couldn't see what to do next-where to put my hands or feet. Growing increasinglymore weary as I clung somewhat desperately to the rock, I made a move. Itdidn't work. I fell. There I was, dangling midair above the rocky groundbelow, frightened but terribly relieved that the belay rope had held me.I knew I was safe. I took a look up at the climb that remained. I was determinedto make it to the top. With renewed confidence and concentration, I finishedthe climb to the top. On my second day of climbing, I rappelled down about200 feet from the top of the Palisades at Lake Superior to just a few feetabove the water level. I could see no one-not my belayer, not the otherClimbers, no one. I unhooked slowly from the rappel rope and took a deepcleansing breath. I looked all around me-really looked-and listened. I hearda cacophony of voices-birds, trickles of water on the rock before me, waveslapping against the rocks below. I closed my eyes and began to feel therock with my hands-the cracks and crannies, the raised lichen and mosses,the almost imperceptible nubs that might provide a resting place for myfingers and toes when I began to climb. At that moment I was bathed in serenity.I began to talk to the rock in an almost inaudible, child-like way, as ifthe rock were my friend. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for whatit offered me-a chance to know myself and the rock differently, to appreciateunforeseen miracles like the tiny flowers growing in the even tinier cracksin the rock's surface, and to come to know a sense of being in relationshipwith the natural environment. It felt as if the rock and I were silent conversationalpartners in a long-standing friendship. I realized then that I had cometo care about this cliff which was so different from me, so unmovable andinvincible, independent and seemingly indifferent to my presence. I wantedto be with the rock as I climbed. Gone was the determination to conquerthe rock, to forcefully impose my will on it; I wanted simply to work respectfullywith the rock as I climbed. And as I climbed, that is what I felt. I feltmyself caring for this rock and feeling thankful that climbing providedthe opportunity for me to know it and myself in this new way.
There are at least four reasons why use of such a first-person narrativeis important to feminism and environmental ethics. First, such a narrativegives voice to a felt sensitivity often lacking in traditional analyticalethical discourse, viz., a sensitivity to conceiving of oneself as fundamentally"in relationship with" others, including the non-human environment.It is a modality which takes relationships themselves seriously. It therebystands in contrast to a strictly reductionist modality that takes relationshipsseriously only or primarily because of the nature of the relators or partiesto those relationships (e.g., relators conceived as moral agents, rightholders, interest carriers, or sentient beings). In the rock-climbing narrativeabove, it is the climber's relationship with the rock she climbs which takeson special significance-which is itself a locus of value-in addition towhatever moral status or moral considerability she or the rock or any otherparties to the relationship may also have. Second, such a first-person narrativegives expression to a variety of ethical attitudes and behaviors often overlookedor under-played in mainstream Western ethics, e.g., the difference in attitudesand behaviors toward a rock when one is "making it to the top"and when one thinks of oneself as "friends with" or "caringabout" the rock one climbs." These different attitudes and behaviorssuggest an ethically germane contrast between two different types of relationshiphumans or climbers may have toward a rock: an imposed conqueror-type relationship,and an emergent caring-type relationship. This contrast grows out of, andis faithful to, felt, lived experience. The difference between conqueringand caring attitudes and behaviors in relation to the natural environmentprovides a third reason why the use of first-person narrative is importantto feminism and environmental ethics: it provides a way of conceiving ofethics and ethical meaning as emerging out of particular situations moralagents find themselves in, rather than as being imposed on those situations(e.g., as a derivation or instantiation of some pre-determined abstractprinciple or rule). This emergent feature of narrative centralizes the importanceof voice. When a multiplicity of cross-cultural voices are centralized,narrative is able to give expression to a range of attitudes, values, beliefs,and behaviors which may be overlooked or silenced by imposed ethical meaningand theory. As a reflection of and on felt, lived experiences, the use ofnarrative in ethics provides a stance from which ethical discourse can beheld accountable to the historical, material, and social realities in whichmoral subjects find themselves. Lastly, and for our purposes perhaps mostimportantly, the use of narrative has argumentative significance. Jim Cheneycalls attention to this feature of narrative when he claims, "To contextualizeethical deliberation is, in some sense, to provide a narrative or story,from which the solution to the ethical dilemma emerges as the fitting conclusion.""Narrative has argumentative force by suggesting what counts as an appropriateconclusion to an ethical situation. One ethical conclusion suggested bythe climbing narrative is that what counts as a proper ethical attitudetoward mountains and rocks is an attitude of respect and care (whateverthat turns out to be or involve), not one of domination and conquest. Inan essay entitled "In and Out of Harm's Way: Arrogance and Love,"feminist philosopher Marilyn Frye distinguishes between "arrogant"and "loving" perception as one way of getting at this differencein the ethical attitudes of care and conquest." Frye writes:
The loving eye is a contrary of the arrogant eye. The loving eye knowsthe independence of the other. It is the eye of a seer who knows that natureis indifferent. It is the eye of one who knows that to know the seen, onemust consult some thing other than one's own will and interests and fearsand imagination. One must look at the thing. One must look and listen andcheck and question. The loving eye is one that pays a certain sort of attention.This attention can require a discipline but not a self-denial. The disciplineis one of self-knowledge, knowledge of the scope and boundary of the self...In particular, it is a matter of being able to tell one's own interestsfrom those of others and of knowing where one's self leaves off and anotherbegins.... The loving eye does not make the object of perception into somethingedible, does not try to assimilate it, does not reduce it to the size ofthe seer's desire, fear and imagination, and hence does not have to simplify.It knows the complexity of the other as something which will forever presentnew things to be known. The science of the loving eye would favor The ComplexityTheory of Truth [in contrast to The Simplicity Theory of Truth] and presupposeThe Endless Interestingness of the Universe."
According to Frye, the loving eye is not an invasive, coercive eye whichannexes others to itself, but one which "knows the complexity of theother as something which will forever present new things to be known."When one climbs a rock as a conqueror, one climbs with an arrogant eye.@en one climbs with a loving eye, one constantly "must look and listenand check and question." One recognizes the rock as something verydifferent, something perhaps totally indifferent to one's own presence,and finds in that difference joyous occasion for celebration. One knows"the boundary of the self," where the self the "I,"the climber-leaves off and the rock begins. There is no fusion of two intoone, but a complement of two entities acknowledged as separate, different,independent, yet in relationship; they are in relationship if only becausethe loving eye is perceiving it, responding to it, noticing it, attendingto it. An ecofeminist perspective about both women and nature involves thisshift in attitude from "arrogant perception" to "loving perception"of the non-human world. Arrogant perception of nonhumans by humans presupposesand maintains sameness in such a way that it expands the moral communityto those beings who are thought to resemble (be like, similar to, or thesame as) humans in some morally significant way. Any environmental movementor ethic based on arrogant perception builds a moral hierarchy of beingsand assumes some common denominator of moral considerability in virtue ofwhich like beings deserve similar treatment or moral consideration and unlikebeings do not. Such environmental ethics are, or generate, a "unityin sameness." In contrast, "loving perception" presupposesand maintains difference-a distinction between the self and other, betweenhuman and at least some nonhumans-in such a way that perception of the otheras other is an expression of love for one who/which is recognized at theoutset as independent, dissimilar, different. As Maria Lugones says, inloving perception, "Love is seen not as fusion and erasure of differencebut as incompatible with them."" "Unity in sameness"alone is an erasure of difference. "Loving perception" of thenon-human natural world is an attempt to understand what it means for humansto care about the non-human world, a world acknowledged as being independent,different, perhaps even indifferent to humans. Humans are different fromrocks in important ways, even if they are also both members of some ecologicalcommunity. A moral community based on loving perception of oneself in relationshipwith a rock, or with the natural environment as a whole, is one which acknowledgesand respects difference, whatever "gameness" also exists."The limits of loving perception are determined only by the limits of one's(e.g., a person's, a community's) ability to respond lovingly (or with appropriatecare, trust, or friendship)-whether it is to other humans or to the non-humanworld and elements of it. 22 If what I have said so far is correct, thenthere are very different ways to climb a mountain and how one climbs itand how one narrates the experience of climbing it matter ethically. Ifone climbs with "arrogant perception," with an attitude of "conquerand control," one keeps intact the very sorts of thinking that characterizea logic of domination and an oppressive conceptual framework. Since theoppressive conceptual framework which sanctions the domination of natureis a patriarchal one, one also thereby keeps intact, even if unwittingly,a patriarchal conceptual framework. Because the dismantling of patriarchalconceptual frameworks is a feminist issue, how one climbs a mountain andhow one narrates-or tells the story-about the experience of climbing alsoare feminist issues. In this way, ecofeminism makes visible why, at a conceptuallevel, environmental ethics is a feminist issue. I turn now to a considerationof ecofeminism as a distinctively feminist and environmental ethic.
ECOFEMINISM AS A FEMINIST AND ENVIRONMENTAL ETHIC
A feminist ethic involves a twofold commitment to critique male biasin ethics wherever it occurs, and to develop ethics which are not male-biased.Sometimes this involves articulation of values (e.g., values of care, appropriatetrust, kinship, friendship) often lost or under-played in mainstream ethics."Sometimes it involves engaging in theory building by pioneering in new directionsor by revamping old theories in gender sensitive ways. What makes the critiquesof old theories or conceptualizations of new ones "feminist" isthat they emerge out of sex-gender analyses and reflect whatever those analysesreveal about gendered experience and gendered social reality. As I conceivefeminist ethics in the pre-feminist present, it rejects attempts to conceiveof ethical theory in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions, becauseit assumes that there is no essence (in the sense of some transhistorical,universal, absolute abstraction) of feminist ethics. While attempts to formulatejoint necessary and sufficient conditions of a feminist ethic are unfruitful,nonetheless, there are some necessary conditions, what I prefer to call"boundary conditions," of a feminist ethic. These boundary conditionsclarify some of the minimal conditions of a feminist ethic without suggestingthat feminist ethics has some ahistorical essence. They are like the boundariesof a quilt or collage. They delimit the territory of the piece without dictatingwhat the interior, the design, the actual pattern of the piece looks like.Because the actual design of the quilt emerges from the multiplicity ofvoices of women in a cross-cultural context, the design will change overtime. It is not something static. What are some of the boundary conditionsof a feminist ethic? First, nothing can become part of a feminist ethic-canbe part of the quilt-that promotes sexism, racism, classism, or any other"isms" of social domination. Of course, people may disagree aboutwhat counts as a sexist act, racist attitude, classist behavior. What countsas sexism, racism, or classism may vary cross-culturally. Still, becausea feminist ethic aims at eliminating sexism and sexist bias, and (as I havealready shown) sexism is intimately connected in conceptualization and inpractice to racism, classism, and naturism, a feminist ethic must be anti-sexist,anti-racist, anti-classist, anti-naturist and opposed to any "ism"which presupposes or advances a logic of domination. Second, a feministethic is a contextualist ethic. A contextualist ethic is one which seesethical discourse and practice as emerging from the voices of people locatedin different historical circumstances. A contextualist ethic is properlyviewed as a collage or mosaic, a tapestry of voices that emerges out offelt experiences. Like any collage or mosaic, the point is not to have onepicture based on a unity of voices, but a pattern which emerges out of thevery different voices of people located in different circumstances. Whena contextualist ethic is feminist, it gives central place to the voicesof women.
Third, since a feminist ethic gives central significance to the diversityof women's voices, a feminist ethic must be structurally pluralistic ratherthan unitary or reductionistic. It rejects the assumption that there is"one voice" in terms of which ethical values, beliefs, attitudes,and conduct can be assessed. Fourth, a feminist ethic reconceives ethicaltheory as theory in process which will change over time. Like all theory,a feminist ethic is based on some generalizations. Nevertheless, the generalizationsassociated with it are themselves a pattern of voices within which the differentvoices emerging out of concrete and alternative descriptions of ethicalsituations have meaning. The coherence of a feminist theory so conceivedis given within a historical and conceptual context, i.e., within a setof historical, socioeconomic circumstances (including circumstances of race,class, age, and affectional orientation) and within a set of basic beliefs,values, attitudes, and assumptions about the world. Fifth, because a feministethic is contextualist, structurally pluralistic, and "in-process,"one way to evaluate the claims of a feminist ethic is in terms of theirinclusiveness: those claims (voices, patterns of voices) are morally andepistemologically favored (preferred, better, less partial, less biased)which are more inclusive of the felt experiences and perspectives of oppressedpersons. The condition of inclusiveness requires and ensures that the diversevoices of women (as oppressed persons) will be given legitimacy in ethicaltheory building. It thereby helps to minimize empirical bias, e.g., biasrising from faulty or false generalizations based on stereotyping, too smalla sample size, or a skewed sample. It does so by ensuring that any generalizationswhich are made about ethics and ethical decision making include-indeed coherewith-the patterned voices of women." Sixth, a feminist ethic makesno attempt to provide an "objective" point of view, since it assumesthat in contemporary culture there really is no such point of view. As such,it does not claim to be "unbiased" in the sense of "value-neutral"or "objective." However, it does assume that whatever bias ithas as an ethic centralizing the voices of oppressed persons is a betterbias-"better" because it is more inclusive and therefore lesspartial-that those which exclude those voices. 26 Seventh, a feminist ethicprovides a central place for values typically unnoticed, underplayed, ormisrepresented in traditional ethics, e.g., values of care, love, friendship,and appropriate trust. Again, it need not do this at the exclusion of considerationsof rights, rules, or utility. There may be many contexts in which talk ofrights or of utility is useful or appropriate. For instance, in contractsor property relationships, talk of rights may be useful and appropriate.In deciding what is cost-effective or advantageous to the most people, talkof utility may be useful and appropriate. In a feminist qua contextualistethic, whether or not such talk is useful or appropriate depends on thecontext; other values (e.g., values of care, trust, friendship) are notviewed as reducible to or captured solely in terms of such talk.
Eighth, a feminist ethic also involves a reconception of what it is tobe human and what it is for humans to engage in ethical decision making,since it rejects as either meaningless or currently untenable any gender-freeor gender-neutral description of humans, ethics, and ethical decision making.It thereby rejects what Alison Jaggar calls "abstract individualism,"i.e., the position that it is possible to identify a human essence or humannature that exists independently of any particular historical context."Humans and human moral conduct are properly understood essentially (andnot merely accidentally) in terms of networks or webs of historical andconcrete relationships. All the props are now in place for seeing how ecofeminismprovides the framework for a distinctively feminist and environmental ethic.It is a feminism that critiques male bias wherever it occurs in ethics (includingenvironmental ethics) and aims at providing an ethic (including an environmentalethic) which is not male biased-and it does so in a way that satisfies thepreliminary boundary conditions of a feminist ethic. First, ecofeministis quintessentially anti-naturist. Its anti-naturism consists in the rejectionof any way of thinking about or acting toward non-human nature that reflectsa logic, values, or attitude of domination. Its anti-naturist, antisexist,anti-racist, anti-classist (and so forth, for all other "isms"of social domination) stance forms the outer boundary of the quilt: nothinggets on the quilt which is naturist, sexist, racist, classist, and so forth.Second, ecofeminism is a contextualist ethic. It involves a shift from aconception of ethics as primarily a matter of rights, rules, or principlespredetermined and applied in specific cases to entities viewed as competitorsin the contest of moral standing, to a conception of ethics as growing outof what Jim Cheney calls "defining relationships," i.e., relationshipsconceived in some sense as defining who one is.'o As a contextualist ethic,it is not that rights, or rules, or principles are not relevant or important.Clearly they are in certain contexts and for certain purposes." Itis just that what makes them relevant or important is that those to whomthey apply are entities in relationship with others. Ecofeminism also involvesan ethical shift from granting moral consideration to nonhumans exclusivelyon the grounds of some similarity they share with humans (e.g., rationality,interests, moral agency, sentiencey, right-holder status) to "a highlycontextual account to see clearly what a human being is and what the non-humanworld might be, morally speaking, for human beings."" For an ecofeminist,how a moral agent is in relationship to another becomes of central significance,not simply that a moral agent is a moral agent or is bound by rights, duties,virtue, or utility to act in a certain way. Third, ecofeminism is structurallypluralistic in that it presupposes and maintains difference among humansas well as between humans and at least some elements of nonhuman nature.Thus, while ecofeminism denies the nature/culture" split, it affirmsthat humans are both members of an ecological community (in some respects)and different from it (in other respects). Ecofeminism's attention to relationshipsand community is not, therefore, an erasure of difference but a respectfulacknowledgment of it. Fourth, ecofeminism reconceives theory as theory inprocess. It focuses on patterns of meaning which emerge, for instance, fromthe storytelling and first-person narratives of women (and others) who deplorethe twin dominations of woman and nature. The use of narrative is one wayto ensure that the content of the ethic-the pattern of the quilt-may/willchange over time, as the historical and material realities of women's liveschange and as more is learned about women-nature connections and the destructionof the non-human world." Fifth, ecofeminism is inclusivist. It emergesfrom the voices of women who experience the harmful domination of natureand the way that domination is tied to their domination as women. It emergesfrom listening to the voices of indigenous peoples such as Native Americanswho have been dislocated from their land and have witnessed the attendantundermining of such values as appropriate reciprocity, sharing, and kinshipthat characterize traditional Indian culture. It emerges from listeningto voices of those who, like Nathan Hare, critique traditional approachesto environmental ethics as white and bourgeois, and as failing to addressissues of "black ecology" and the "ecology" of the innercity and urban spaces." It also emerges out of the voices of Chipkowomen who see the destruction of 11 earth, soil, and water" as intimatelyconnected with their own ability to survive economically." With itsemphasis on inclusivity and difference, ecofeminism provides a frameworkfor recognizing that what counts as ecology and what counts as appropriateconduct toward both human and non-human environments is largely a matterof context. Sixth, as a feminism, ecofeminism makes no attempt to providean "objective" point of view. It is a social ecology. It recognizesthe twin dominations of women and nature as social problems rooted bothin very concrete, historical, socioeconomic circumstances and in oppressivepatriarchal conceptual frameworks which maintain and sanction these circumstances.Seventh, ecofeminism makes a central place for values of care, love, friendship,trust, and appropriate reciprocity-values that presuppose that our relationshipsto others are central to our understanding of who we are." It therebygives voice to the sensitivity that in climbing a mountain, one is doingsomething in relationship with an "other," an "other"whom one can come to care about and treat respectfully. Lastly, an ecofeministethic involves a reconception of what it means to be human, and of whathuman ethical behavior consists. Ecofeminism denies abstract individualism.Humans are who we are in large part by virtue of the historical and socialcontexts and the relationships we are in, including our relationships withnon-human nature. Relationships are not something extrinsic to who we are,not an "add on" feature of human nature; they play an essentialrole in shaping what it is to be human. Relationships of humans to the nonhumanenvironment are, in part, constitutive of what it is to be a human.
By making visible the interconnections among the dominations of womenand nature, ecofeminism shows that both are feminist issues and that explicitacknowledgment of both is vital to any responsible environmental ethic.Feminism must embrace ecological feminism if it is to end the dominationof women because the domination of women is tied conceptually and historicallyto the domination of nature. A responsible environmental ethic also mustembrace feminism. Otherwise, even the seemingly most revolutionary, liberational,and holistic ecological ethic will fail to take seriously the interconnecteddominations of nature and women that are so much a part of the historicallegacy and conceptual framework that sanctions the exploitation of non-humannature. Failure to make visible these interconnected, twin dominations resultsin an inaccurate account of how it is that nature has been and continuesto be dominated and exploited and produces an environmental ethic that lacksthe depth necessary to be truly inclusive of the realities of persons whoat least in dominant Western culture have been intimately tied with thatexploitation, viz., women. Whatever else can be said in favor of such holisticethics, a failure to make visible ecofeminist insights into the common denominatorsof the twin oppressions of women and nature is to perpetuate, rather thanovercome, the source of that oppression. This last point deserves furtherattention. It may be objected that as long as the end result is "thesame"-the development of an environmental ethic which does not emergeout of or reinforce an oppressive conceptual framework-it does not matterwhether that ethic (or the ethic endorsed in getting there) is feministor not. Hence, it simply is not the case that any adequate environmentalethic must be feminist. My argument, in contrast, has been that it doesmatter, and for three important reasons. First, there is the scholarly issueof accurately representing historical reality, and that, ecofeminists claim,requires acknowledging the historical feminization of nature and naturalizationof women as part of the exploitation of nature. Second, I have shown thatthe conceptual connections between the domination of women and the dominationof nature are located in an oppressive and, at least in Western societies,patriarchal conceptual framework characterized by a logic of domination.Thus, I have shown that failure to notice the nature of this connectionleaves at best an incomplete, inaccurate, and partial account of what isrequired of a conceptually adequate environmental ethic. An ethic whichdoes not acknowledge this is simply not the same as one that does, whateverelse the similarities between them. Third, the claim that, in contemporaryculture, one can have an adequate environmental ethic which is not feministassumes that, in contemporary culture, the label feminist does not add anythingcrucial to the nature or description of environmental ethics. I have shownthat at least in contemporary culture this is false, for the word feministcurrently helps to clarify just how the domination of nature is conceptuallylinked to patriarchy and, hence, how the liberation of nature, is conceptuallylinked to the termination of patriarchy. Thus, because it has critical bitein contemporary culture, it serves as an important reminder that in contemporarysex,gendered, raced, classed, and naturist culture, an unlabelled positionfunctions as a privileged and "unmarked" position. That is, withoutthe addition of the word feminist, one presents environmental ethics asif it has no bias, including male-gender bias, which is just what ecofeministsdeny: failure to notice the connections between the twin oppressions ofwomen and nature is male-gender bias. One of the goals of feminism is theeradication of all oppressive sex-gender (and related race, class, age,affectional preference) categories and the creation of a world in whichdifference does not breed domination say, the world of 4001. If in 4001an "adequate environmental ethic" is a "feminist environmentalethic," the word feminist may then be redundant and unnecessary. However,this is not 4001, and in terms of the current historical and conceptualreality the dominations of nature and of women are intimately connected.Failure to notice or make visible that connection in 1990 perpetuates themistaken (and privileged) view that "environmental ethics" isnot a feminist issue, and that feminist adds nothing to environmental ethics.
I have argued in this paper that ecofeminism provides a framework fora distinctively feminist and environmental ethic. Ecofeminism grows outof the felt and theorized-about connections between the domination of womenand the domination of nature. As a contextualist ethic, ecofeminism refocusesenvironmental ethics on what nature might mean, morally speaking, for humans,and on how the relational attitudes of humans to others-humans as well asnonhumans-sculpt both what it is to be human and the nature and ground ofhuman responsibilities to the non-human environment. Part of what this refocusingdoes is to take seriously the voices of women and other oppressed personsin the construction of that ethic. A Sioux elder once told me a story abouthis son. He sent his seven-year-old son to live with the child's grandparentson a Sioux reservation so that he could "team the Indian ways."Part of what the grandparents taught the son was how to hunt the four leggedsof the forest. As I heard the story, the boy was taught "to shoot yourfour-legged brother in his hind area, slowing it down but not killing it.Then, take the four legged's head in your hands, and look into his eyes.The eyes are where all the suffering is. Look into your brother's eyes andfeel his pain. Then, take your knife and cut the four-legged under his chin,here, on his neck, so that he dies quickly. And as you do, ask your brother,the four-legged, for forgiveness for what you do. Offer also a prayer ofthanks to your four-legged kin for offering his body to you just now, whenyou need food to eat and clothing to wear. And promise the four-legged thatyou will put yourself back into the earth when you die, to become nourishmentfor the earth, and for the sister flowers, and for the brother deer. Itis appropriate that you should offer this blessing for the four-legged and,in due time, reciprocate in turn with your body in this way, as the four-leggedgives life to you for your survival." As I reflect upon that story,I am struck by the power of the environmental ethic that grows out of andtakes seriously narrative, context, and such values and relational attitudesas care, loving perception, and appropriate reciprocity, and doing whatis appropriate in a given situation-however that notion of appropriatenesseventually gets filled out. I am also struck by what one is able to see,once one begins to explore some of the historical and conceptual connectionsbetween the dominations of women and of nature. A re-conceiving and re-visioningof both feminism and environmental ethics, is, I think, the power and promiseof ecofeminism.
This essay first appeared in Environmental Ethics 12(2), 1990: 125-46.