What’s Wrong with Ecofeminism?


Sargisson, Lucy. 2001. “What’s Wrong with Ecofeminism?” Environmental Politics 10 (1): 52-64.

Author: Lucy Sargisson


"Where to begin? Ecofeminism is essentialist, biologist and it lacks political efficacy. Ecofeminism is inconsistent, intellectually regressive and it lacks rigour. Ecofeminism is the fluffy face of feminism. Challengers of this view of ecofeminism insist that ecofeminism is scientific, profound, and essential to human and non-human survival. Criticisms of ecofeminism, they insist, are inaccurate, infected by patriarchy and/or simply naïve. They tell us that ecofeminism is political [Salleh, 1997]; ecofeminism is practical [Sturgeon, 1997]; ecofeminism is complex [Birkeland, 1993]; ecofeminism is ethical science [Mies and Shiva, 1988]; and that ecofeminism is the salvation of the world [Spretnak, 1990; Plant, 1989]. Women are said to be closer to nature than men are, and so only they can save the planet [Starhawk, 1990].

Debates regarding the efficacy and rigour of ecofeminism are well established and I have little to add to them. Critiques like those offered by Janet Biehl are thorough and thoughtful [Biehl, 1991]. Such critiques of ecofeminism are on the whole accurate and appropriate but, I suggest, what’s really wrong with ecofeminism is that it denies its full potential. Ecofeminism is utopian in all senses of that term and it fails to acknowledge and exploit this. Understanding of this allows us to see both the value and the dangers of ecofeminist thought. Utopianism is both the beauty and the beast of ecofeminism" (Sargisson 2001, 52).

Topics: Feminisms, Ecofeminism

Year: 2001

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