Friday, March 20, 2009

Is Man is to Woman as Sustainability is to Nature?

Just a quick speculation here, punning off of everyone's favorite Sherry B. Ortner essay. Being so deeply and at times dreadfully inured in the language of sustainability these days, I'm wondering if anyone has charted a lot of the gender consequences of the discourse. Seeing it mostly from the perspectives of planners and architects on the one hand and media punditry on the other, there is an emphasis on sustainability as being strongly related to technology, building, and construction. Not come on too strong with the Freud (because sometimes a LEED certified building is just a LEED certified building), but this seems a very masculine if not phallic approach to the idea of change in society. Which is, of course, what sustainability will ahve to be, change in our society and the habits and means of production and consumption that we currently enjoy (/suffer from).

Maybe this is overreaching, but maybe it might be useful to think about what it might mean for sustainability discourse to 'become woman'. I'm not saying that we should all start thinking of home ec. and thriftiness in the family (which, now that I think about it, is a big part of the mainstream discourse on the topic and at the same time very neatly seems to coincide with traditional gender roles as well), but maybe there are large gaps in the way we conceive of what need be done to achieve more sustainable futures.


Blogger Robot said...

I tend to see the gendered nature of these environmentalist discourses as moving in cycles. They were started in the early 20th century by manly men for masculine reasons (see Theodore Roosevelt's conservation program), who were then overtaken by a lot of middle class women hoping to "preserve" their neighborhoods and land from the onslaught ("rape") of immigrant hordes, who were then overtaken by more working class "not in my backyard are you going to build that expressway!" kind of thing, who were then overtaken by a gentler more nurturing vegetarianism, who are now overtaken by the T. Bone Pickens/John Galt stuff you're referring to, Sheriff. Given that these solutions (like so many others) are premised on a kind of hail mary hope that we'll get the technology just in time to save the world from natural disaster, I tend to think we do need to become more womanly in the following way: consume less.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Scotty said...

should man revere nature ?

2:53 AM  

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