By Dr Saraswati Raju
The author is Professor, Centre for Study of Regional Development (CSRD), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Several scholars have suggested that there is intrinsic affinity between women and nature and both are subordinated by patriarchal processes, women by men and nature by culture – an ideological position known as ecofeminism. Although powerfully argued, such formulation inadequately addresses division of gendered labour within households that assign tasks such as collection of water, free fodder, fuel etc. sourced essentially from natural environs by women. It is the survival dependence on nature added by persistent social conditioning that nurture and care is what they embody, make women care for nature more. Water provides a good case for suggesting an alternative way of looking at the issue in a pragmatic manner.
Scholars have argued that women have affinity with nature because both are subjected to domination, women by men and nature by culture. Nature in their imagination is equated with femininity and culture with masculinity. The proponents of this ideology contend that cultural artefacts have destroyed nature through destructive technologies of modern patriarchal structures and controls. Men have likewise been instrumental in subordinating women. The proposed synonymy between women and nature also comes from the fact that women have the power...