Rosemarie Tong, Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction

Ecofeminism, Part II

Karl Sineath

In the second half of the "Ecofeminism" chapter in Tong's Feminist Thought, she describes three branches of Ecofeminism: Spiritual Ecofeminism, Social or Social-Constructionist Ecofeminism, and Socialist or Transformative-Socialist Ecofeminism. Tong ends the chapter with critiques of all the subdivisions of Ecofeminism that she had previously presented.

Note: I have reproduced Tong's subject headings in an attempt at clarity.

Spiritual Ecofeminism

Spiritual-ecofeminists see a link between the commonly held Judeo-Christian belief that God gave humans dominion over the earth and the degradation of the earth's ecosystems. According to the general principals of ecofeminism, women are inextricably linked to nature, and therefore, debasement of the earth is considered to be synonymous with debasement of women. By allowing--and even encouraging--subjugation of the earth, Judaism and Christianity sanction subjugation of women as well. If Judaism and Christianity cannot be freed from the idea of a "disembodied", male God, then spiritual-ecofeminists call for both an abandonment of these religions and a celebration of nature through the practice of "earth-based spiritualities". (260, 261). According to Starhawk--a prominent Spiritual Econfeminist--the three most important concepts of earth-based spiritualities are the immanence of the Goddess in the living world; interconnection of mind, body, and nature; and a compassionate life-style (261-263).

The Argument for Deemphasizing the Nature-Women Connection: Social, or Social Constructionist, Ecofeminism

As opposed to spiritual-ecofeminists, social (or social-constructionist) ecofeminists deemphasize the connection between nature and women and instead focus on the dissolution of all conceptual dichotomies, particularly between men and women and between nature and culture. Every human being should realize that s/he is just as much natural as s/he is cultural and that s/he is--in some sense--both man and woman. These concepts (viz. nature, culture, man, and woman) are, in fact, social constructions. According to Dorothy Dinnerstein--a prominent social ecofeminist--man and woman, culture and nature are one, and "it is counterproductive for half of reality to try to dominate the other