Race Class and Social Isolation

Ecological feminism also pays attention to issues of race, class, and social location in analyzing the so-called population problem. While many who discuss this problem have focused upon the idea that there are too many humans on the planet, mainstream analysis has tended to ignore key questions about why humans, and in particular women, make the reproductive choices that they do (when these are actually choices). In particular, questions about why so many women in developed countries are so desperate to have children and why women in developing countries tend to have so many children require complex analysis. Simply stating that there are too many people on the planet ignores such crucial issues.

Another important strand in ecological feminism focuses on how first-world development of third-world countries recreates western-style patriarchal ideals, causing extreme problems in the countries being developed. While development has had negative consequences for those living in countries being developed, generally it is often women who suffer the most. Citing India as an example, Vandana Shiva in 1989 argued that western development was supposed to be a postcolonial project allowing underdeveloped countries the opportunity to enjoy western-style progress without having to be colonized, and that this so-called progress actually created poverty along with wealth. It destroyed sustainable ways of living and created true material poverty. This is because resources badly needed for sustenance were instead used to produce cash crops to be sold. This robbed those who needed the resources to survive. While according to western models, those living in subsistence economies are seen as poor due to the fact that they are not participating in the global market, prior to development, many such people had their survival needs fairly well met, while attempts to remove perceived poverty can create real material poverty in which resources needed for survival are lost. Hence, the quality of life for those developed is often worse than it was before. The situation is often even worse for women because the devaluation of women and nature is part of western-style patriarchy. Women's knowledge is seen as unscientific and is replaced by the so-called real science which is mainly controlled by men. As this new science is employed, women's traditional roles as primary producers of food, fuel, and water are devalued. However, because the new science does not pay adequate attention to natural processes, results are often unsustainable.

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