Two of the most important political movements of the late twentieth century are those of environmentalism and feminism. In this book, Val Plumwood argues that feminist theory has an important opportunity to make a major contribution to the debates in political ecology and environmental philosophy. Feminism and the Mastery of Nature explains the relation between ecofeminism, or ecological feminism, and other feminist theories including radical green theories such as deep ecology. Val Plumwood provides a philosophically informed account of the relation of women and nature, and shows how relating male domination to the domination of nature is important and yet remains a dilemma for women.
Comment: Val Plumwood (11 August 1939 – 29 February 2008) was an Australian philosopher and ecofeminist known for her work on anthropocentrism. From the 1970s she played a central role in the development of radical ecosophy. Working mostly as an independent scholar, she held positions at the University of Tasmania, North Carolina State University, the University of Montana, and the University of Sydney. Feminism and the Mastery of Nature draws on the feminist critique of reason to argue that the master form of rationality of western culture has been systematically unable to acknowledge dependency on nature, the sphere of those it has defined as ‘inferior’ others. Plumwood illuminates the relationship between women and nature, and between ecological feminism and other feminist theories. This chapter on Feminism and Ecofeminism is situated here in the list because it furthers the critical evaluation of nature which Menon draws by turning the discussion on it’s head. Whilst Menon illustrates the ways in which the of nature is utilised as a means of distorting ‘moral’ and political action, Plumwood illustrates the ways in which the concept of nature itself has been distorted and corrupted by colonial and patriarchal realities.