Monday, July 04, 2011

No Green Goddesses

Here is an important intervention by Janet Biehl, published in the latest issue of Le Monde diplomatique: "No Green Goddesses: Ecofeminism Isn't Feminist or Eco Either." Unfortunately, the English version is for subscribers only, and the French version won't be available till next month. But the Portugese and Italian versions are already online. A funny thing is that people who wouldn't put up with the god of the Abrahamic religions often love Pachamama. One reason is that Pachamama is cast as female while the God of Jews, Christians, and Muslims is commonly cast as male. Goddesses can be useful for reactionary, patriarchal thought, though. Amaterasu is female and kind of cool in the original tellings of the myth about her, but Japan's ruling class at one time successfully built patriarchal capitalism and imperialism in part using an ideology based on the claimed kinship with her. Another reason is that there are two kinds of "otherness": one (e.g., Muslims, hijab) is cast as frightening; the other (e.g., indigenous peoples of the Americas, Indian saris) is cast as cute. A deeper reason, though, lies in what Janet Biehl touches on in her article: the Left's neglect of the questions of the gendered division of labor and social reproduction. Given that most struggles on the Left today are defensive rather than offensive, there is a tendency to employ the rhetoric of uncommodified = good versus commodified =bad and adopt the posture of defending the remaining space of the former against the encroachment of the latter. But a lot of oppression of women takes place in the sphere of uncommodified relations, which gets scant attention in the aforementioned rhetoric.

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