Gendering Extraction: Expectations and Identities in Women’s Motives for Shale Energy Opposition

Citation:

Willow, Anna J., and Samantha Keefer. 2015. “Gendering Extraction: Expectations and Identities in Women’s Motives for Shale Energy Opposition.” Journal of Research in Gender Studies 5 (2): 93–120.

Authors: Anna J. Willow, Samantha Keefer

Abstract:

Situated in the emerging social movement context of Ohio's shale energy opposition, this article considers how women's motives for grassroots environmental engagement simultaneously reflect and direct ongoing transitions in gendered expectations and identities. Drawing on in-depth ethnographic interviews with sixteen female activists, we argue that women understand the catalysts for their initial actions and the ultimate goals of their ongoing work in ways that both corroborate and challenge conventional gender roles. To determine whether the motives articulated by our research participants paralleled those documented in earlier grassroots contexts and cases, content analysis was undertaken to identify themes pertaining to motives for shale energy opposition. This process revealed close and complementary interrelationships between themes that are customarily associated with feminine expectations and identities (e.g., Health of Children; Concern for Community) and themes that are not (e.g., Power, Control, and Justice; Environment and Ecology). While Power, Control, and Justice (usually categorized as masculine, but also a classic feminist point of entry into the political field) was the most mentioned Gendering ExtrACTION theme, both the second and third most prominent themes - Health of Children and Concern for Community - substantiate the continuing salience of traditional feminine roles. We thus suggest that women who oppose shale energy are called to action by a dynamic constellation of concerns encompassing home and away, personal and political. The coexistence of established and innovative femininities apparent in this activist arena indicates that women's motives for grassroots environmental engagement cannot be reduced to any single agenda or any simple expression or refutation of traditionally gendered feminine expectations and identities.

Keywords: environmental activism, ethnography, femininities, Ohio, shale energy, women and social movements

Topics: Environment, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Health, Justice Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2015

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