All posts tagged: Gender

“Rape of the Land:” 21st Century Ecofeminism and Environmental Rape Culture

One of the primary theoretical driving forces in the emergence of ecofeminism in the 1980s is the “rape of the land” concept. Essentially, ecofeminists argued that the root of contemporary ecological problems rested in a patriarchal society – one that placed a lower value upon the “other,” which was anything outside of the perceived norm: anything not male, not white, not heterosexual, and not “civilized” culture. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, indigenous people, and homosexuality all fell under this category. The realization that nature was also in this group was the work of early ecofeminists like Carolyn Merchant, Susan Griffin, and a slew of other creative and bright minds. The idea that a patriarchal society could “rape the land” stemmed from two theories: 1. That it is the nature of a patriarchal society to dominate and control entities that fall outside of established rules of culture. 2. That women could reclaim imagery of the goddess in nature (or, Mother Earth) as a source of power. A few of the ways in which it was perceived …

The Womanhood Issue, #3: “Are Women’s Colleges Necessary in 2014?”

Recently, I talked with a friend about the changing status of women’s colleges in the twenty-first century. We are both affiliated with a small liberal arts college that freshly transitioned to a co-educational institute after nearly 150 years as a women’s college. While the decision to change enrollment standards was rooted in financial considerations, it is fraught with emotion on all sides of the argument. Alum who find a strong bond to each other and the college through tradition wished for little change in this area. Faculty and staff who hoped for job security reluctantly conceded a change. Current students were caught in the middle, not fully realizing the weighted history of the woman’s college as viewed by alum and professors emerita, nor the financial burdens of the institution, and the students fell on one side of the argument or the other. It is not my goal to question the validity of the decision or critique one of these opinions, but rather to take a step back and ask: “Are women’s colleges necessary in the …

The “Womanhood” Issue

Over one year ago I turned thirty and finally felt like a woman. I mean a real, adult woman. In contrast, the years leading to my thirties felt nothing like adulthood, let alone womanhood. Since this mental shift, I ruminated the question over and over, “What happened?” [Short pause for tired age-related jokes.] As it turns out – a lot. None of it has to do with personal history. Rather, I believe it relates to real issues of womanhood: what makes one feel like an authentic adult woman, what constitutes womanhood, and problems with stereotypes relating to this problem. I was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion at the Eastern American Studies Association, entitled “Beyond the Binary: Exploring Contemporary Concepts of Femininity and Masculinity,” and held at La Salle University the weekend of March 28, 2014. As the “women’s studies” scholar on the panel, I was surrounded by talented intellectuals: Jeanine Ruhsam of Penn State Harrisburg, representing study on transgender issues; Amy Milligan of Elizabethtown College, who works in the realm of gay/lesbian scholarship; …