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18.6.07

Ecofeminism in Action

One of the central ideas in ecofeminism is the way that a dualism of Culture/Nature is constructed in our culture, and then projected onto all kinds of other forms of difference, so that women, people of color, etc. are seen as less valuable and in need of control by the white male Culture pole.

There's a great example of this kind of nature dualism in this post where Rachel S. collects commenters' responses to photos of Maggie Gyllenhaal (who's apparently a celebrity of some sort) breastfeeding. The commenters describe Gyllenhaal as an "animal," "Africa[n]," and a "peasant" -- a trifecta of species, race, and class discrimination applied to reinforce a demand that a woman comply with the ideal of the body-free masculine-style self. The commenters resent having an admittedly "natural" activity popping up in the public sphere without being properly Culture-regulated -- at least by a towel over the baby and breast, but better by keeping breastfeeding hidden away where non-breastfeeding-mothers don't have to think about it. And it's not just her behavior, but even Gyllenhaal's body is brought into it, as her breasts are deemed too "sagging" and ugly to be fit for public viewing (especially since she's a celebrity).

I find it amusingly ironic that people are hauling out the "eww, keep that in private" reaction to pictures taken by papparazzi -- people whose job is to pry into, and publicize, the affairs of others, and whose activities are supported by the audience of people who read celebrity publications like the blog where the photos were posted.

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