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Episode 5: Environmentalism's gender problem with Jennifer Bernstein

Many ecofeminists contend that women have a mystical connectedness with the Earth. But as Jennifer Bernstein argues, this conflates women with the biophysical environment, taking women's agency away from their own bodies.

In this episode, Jenn, lecturer at the University of Southern California, tells us about the ways in which environmental discourse is still highly gendered. We talk about the “white guy problem,” naturalizing ideals of the farm, and how cloth-diapering signals a particular kind of environmentalism. These issues are structural, but “proximate possible” solutions point a way forward: what can we do, given what we have right now?

For more on this topic, here is Jenn’s essay in the Breakthrough Journal: “On Mother Earth and Earth Mothers.”

Find a full transcript of the interview here.

Mentioned in this episode:

  • A critique from Michael Finewood and Teresa Lloro-Bidart on Jenn's work, arguing that we shouldn't valorize one choice over another — people should have free agency in how they choose to engage with either the paid or unpaid economy.

  • Will Boisvert on why he thinks "CSAs [community-supported agriculture] are the worst food deal imaginable."

  • On the 1965 essay by Leo Marx, "The Machine in the Garden," which argues that American pastoralism has always had a contradictory relationship with technology.

  • Leigh Phillips on decoupling capitalism and technology, to help us unpack some of the knee-jerk reactions that mainstream environmentalists have toward technological innovations.

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