Equality, Harmony, and the Environment: An Ecofeminist Approach to Understanding the Role of Cultural Values on the Treatment of Women and Nature

Citation:

Bloodhart, Brittany, and Janet K. Swim. 2010. “Equality, Harmony, and the Environment: An Ecofeminist Approach to Understanding the Role of Cultural Values on the Treatment of Women and Nature.” Ecopsychology 2 (3): 187–94. 

Authors: Brittany Bloodhart, Janet K. Swim

Abstract:

This research investigated the associations between hegemonic cultural values, gender equality, and environmental protection. Psychologists have largely studied domination of people over other people (e.g., men over women) rather than domination of people over the environment. Ecofeminism, however, theorizes that hegemonic systems of power and oppression materialize both as domination of men over women and as domination of people over the environment, leading to degradation of the ecosystems. Consequently, we theorize that gender inequality and impacts on the natural world should be related at a national level, and that cultural tendencies to prioritize hegemonic values of hierarchy of people (rather than egalitarianism) and mastery over the environment (rather than harmony) should be related to negative environmental impacts and gender inequality. Data from the United Nations (2009) on gender equality and women's empowerment, Schwartz's (2006) assessment of cultural value orientation, and Yale's Environmental Performance Index (2008) generally support ecofeminist predictions: controlling for gross domestic product, gender empowerment is related to a country's tendency to exploit the environment, and cultural hegemonic values are predictive of gender inequality and environmental exploitation. However, gender empowerment mediates the relationship between hegemony and environmental health, whereas it is mutually predictive with hegemony of ecosystem vitality. These results may be influenced by women's representation in law and policy creation as well as by men's differential self-interest in their own health over the health of animals, the biosphere, and marginalized human groups.

Topics: Economies, Ecological Economics, Environment, Feminisms, Ecofeminism, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Health

Year: 2010

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