While feminists often militate for environmental conservation, one particular stance they take in this direction is that of addressing the issue of gender differences in environmental issues. The feminist approach to environmentalism promotes a superior role of women in the protection of the environment by presenting both females and the environment as reproductive forces of nature. Additionally, they argue that women are nurturers by nature and they are as such better skilled to protect the environment (Rocheleau, 1996).
Feminist environmentalism assesses the differences not only between natural stances of genders, but also between the access to resources, the control over the resources, the knowledge possessed and available, as well as the relationships developed at the level of national and local governments, as well as within the international community (Cornwall, Harrison and Whitehead, 2008).
The feminist environmental movement is as such based on the following interests:
"How gender, class and race mediate people's experience with local environments
How human-environment values are mediated through gendered lenses and shaped by gender roles
The gendered nature of political, economic and ecological power in institutions that shape the environment
The interconnections of systems of oppression, and Transnational and postcolonial challenges" (Bock and Shortall, 2006, p.291).
The primary shortage associated with feminist environmentalism is represented by the fact that the ideologies related to the role of genders in creating environmental stability shift the focus from the actual problems to the role of genders. In other words, the focus on the stringent problem is demised as a result of an ideological debate, instead of it falling on a united effort to conserve the environment.
Another weakness is represented by the fact that it denies the existence and previous demand for gender equality in the field of environmental protection. While the preceding phases of feminism had strived to attain gender equality, feminism in relationship to the environment promotes the idea that women are better nurturers, implying that they would be more suitable to provide care to those who need it -- be the environment or the children -- rather than activate in the political and business contexts. Such an interpretation would further widen the gap between genders and would represent a setback of the feminist movement.
An important difference between post-modern feminism and environmentalism is represented by the fact that the first is concentrated on the individual, promoting the rights of each woman within her specific social, economic and political context. Environmentalism on the other hand, is more focused on the world as a whole; it assesses the environmental dangers across the globe and strives to promote its overall well-being, with lesser emphasis on cross gender issues.
A second difference is represented by the strict gender difference made by the post-modern feminism and the environmentalism areas. In this order of ideas, post-modern feminisms appeals directly to women and their rights within the communities in which they live and work. The environmentalist stand however approaches the overall community and strives to motivate it to preserve the well-being of the environment.
Finally, the ultimate difference is observed at the level of the questions which could be responded by the two stances of the feminist theory. In this order of ideas, the post-modern theory could respond to questions related to the individuality of women in the workplace, the society and the home. The environmental theory could respond to questions addressing the diverse relationship between genders and environmental conservation, as well as the elements which distinguish between genders at this level.
All in all, the two sub-areas of the feminist theories promote new stances in the narrowing of the gender gap. Each of them is characterized by both weaknesses and strengths, but the final discourse is made for the environmentalist theory. The post-modern feminism promotes valid ideas of individualism, but these are less stringent than the issues of environmental conservation -- which impact the entire global community, as well as the future generations.
The feminist side of the environmental theory is quite intricate, and more research should be conducted in the sense of attesting or dismissing the attributes forwarded by feminists as superior and better equipped in protecting the environment. Aside from this aspect however, the emphasis falls on this theory as a result of the gravity of the environmental problems and the commitment of the female population to support the protection of the natural environment.
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Cornwall, a., Harrison, E., Whitehead, a., 2008, Gender myths and feminist fables: the struggle for interpretative power in gender development, John Wiley and Sons
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