(Eco)Feminist Pedagogy

Flynn in her article “Composing as a Woman” seems to consider the entire field of composition as a feminist endeavor as she contends that the composition studies have “feminiz[ed] our previous conceptions of how writers write and how writing should be taught” (581).

The idea of composition specialists having “replace[d] the figure of the authoritative father with an image of the nurturing mother” (582) is very interesting and somehow sounds very ecofeministic as it creates the image of a woman that ecofeminists cherish. As far as I understand, feminists are not very comfortable with the image of a woman as “nurturing mother” since “naturalizes women” and invokes the sense of women as “earth mothers, as passive reproductive animals, contented cows immersed in the body and in the unreflective experiencing of life” (Plumwood 20). Flynn further considers the role of a “committed teacher” as conceived by the composition theorists as one who is “concerned about the growth and maturity of her students” (582).

Micciche in her “Feminist Pedagogies” on the other hand, while quoting Eileen Schell brings out the point that “this ethic of care obscures a central problem in the field: the preponderance of women in ‘contingent writing instructorships’.” So the “non-authoritative” image of a teacher that Flynn seems to elevate is the one that others consider “subordinate” and one that describes women as “wives, whores, handmaids, daughters, mothers, and ‘sad women in basement’” (131).

While briefly surveying the history of feminism, Micciche refers to the fourth wave of feminism that has “grown to address race, class, age, disability, queer, linguistic, immigrant and other categories of identification that include and exceed women’s issues. (129-30). The only link missing here between the definition of feminism and ecofeminism is the acceptance of woman-nature relationship. And Flynn seems to have roughly connected that link.

So clearly, Flynn’s ideas sound more ecofeministic and that is precisely the very reason for their clash with other feminists’ beliefs.

Points to ponder:

Will there be any significant difference between feminist and ecofeminist pedagogies?

Is feminism really one step away from ecofeminism—acknowledging women-nature connection and considering environment as a feminist issue?

External sources used:

Plumwood, Val. Feminism and the Mastery of Nature. London: Routledge, 1993. Print.


One thought on “(Eco)Feminist Pedagogy

  1. Such an interesting extension, Neelam. While I am less familiar with ecofeminist theory, so can’t speak authoritatively as to whether Flynn might be ecofeminist without claiming it, I will say that the passages you highlight are the ones that strike me now as leaning toward essentialism, something current feminists (as good postmodernists, perhaps, and as social constructionists, to be sure) resist. Flynn doesn’t seem to outright make the essentialist argument; we could probably read her as suggesting this development she discusses is the gender training men and women get in our culture. But she also doesn’t make that argument directly.

    Upon further reflection regarding this notion of Flynn as an ecofeminist, I do think she’d have to tie more directly into her agenda some discussion about ecology, earth sustainability issues, etc. But she is quite an early entry in comp studies, at least, in terms of feminist perspectives. She opened a door, so to speak.


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