FERTILE GROUND by Irene Diamond


Women, Earth, and the Limits of Control
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 Diamond parallels the abuse of nature and the abuse of women to challenge ecological and feminist assumptions about population control and fertility. Though ``not questioning the basic feminist insistence that men have long controlled women in a variety of damaging ways,'' Diamond (Political Science/Univ. of Oregon) does question the ways in which feminist discourse has focused on owning and controlling the body. She proposes that western feminism has developed within the masculinist ideology of power, including control of nature and the earth. Thus, much of the discourse of women's liberation reinforces the will toward technological mastery by emphasizing ownership of bodies and control of fertility. Diamond demonstrates the need for diversity, both ecologically and culturally, if we are to renew our relationship with the earth, beginning with respect for local and culturally specific connections to the environment. Relying heavily on the work of Foucault, Diamond develops the idea of the sexuated body, ``the body defined exclusively by sex,'' as the root of the western focus on owning our bodies. Although her notion of the sexuated body is appealing, Diamond never quite develops its significance for her argument. Recognizing the conflicts of living in a technologically driven society, but not recognizing the tremendous gains women have made, Diamond does convincingly argue that we need to challenge the language of power: She advocates focusing on and celebrating fertility of both women and the earth, and challenging technology that provides sex without consequences, reproduction without sex, and food without sweat. However, she doesn't follow through on the consequences of her argument or offer specific means of accomplishing this new existence. Avoiding romantic calls to return to the wilderness and arguments about women's inherent alliance with nature, Diamond directs attention to the cyclical nature of life and death, and provides a stepping stone for future ecofeminist efforts.

Pub Date: July 6th, 1994
ISBN: 0-8070-6772-5
Page count: 193pp
Publisher: Beacon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1994


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