Essentialism

Perhaps the most important criticism of ecological feminist approaches is that they are seen by some as essentialist. Some ecological feminists have suggested that we embrace the woman-nature connection. They call upon women to celebrate their femininity and suggest that if more men embraced femininity generally, people would have more respect for nature. Other critics have argued that this implies the existence of some essential characteristic shared by all women that makes them closer to nature, whatever that may mean. One obvious problem is that historically, it is exactly this association that has been responsible for sexist attitudes. Another is that it implies that women have some sort of common experience with regard to nature that disregards the major differences within women's lives. Finally, this approach seems to glorify femininity in ways that are problematic in that many feminists argue that femininity is a role of oppressed people under patriarchy, and feminists certainly do not want to glorify patriarchy. Hence, many critics have been highly worried about the essentialist strand that is in some ecological feminist work.

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