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Open Access Publications from the University of California

What Can the Environmental Movement Learn From Feminism?


At this critical moment after Copenhagen and in the wake of an economic crisis that has posed a serious challenge to neoliberal economic policy, environmentalists should take a lesson from developments in the feminist movement in the 1970s and 1980s. The environmental movement faces the same political economy faced by the feminist movement: a capitalist system and mode of production. Feminists have navigated within or fought against this system on the ground level with their struggle for equal opportunity employment, re-valuing productive work such as childcare, decreasing the gender wage gap, and fighting sexual harassment. Feminist confrontations with capitalism were also manifest in the intense theoretical debates that took place during second-wave feminism in the 1960s and 70s. Liberal, Marxist, and radical feminists posited different answers to the foundational question of how to position oneself within or against a capitalist political economy.

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