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WGST 202 Day 18 Environment
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WGST 202 Day 18 Environment



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  • Connect: Body, Health, Environment with Consumption, Globalization, and Immigration.
  • One example:Synthetic estrogens in plastics, hormones in meat and milk have been implicated two fold: 1) they are suspected of indirectly stimulating sexual maturity by making girls fatter (which reduces age of Menarche) and 2) they are suspected of directly stimulating sexual development. Concerns about the role of food are reinforced by the fact that we see differences across race and class as we know that access to whole, natural foods is limited among the poor, working class, and communities of color. This has negative long term health effects but near term social and psychological health. Early developers have lower “self-esteem,” poorer body image, higher rates of teen pregnancy, less time between births (and probably many other effects that are immeasurable).
  • In fact it is a woman who is often credited with launching the environmental movement.
  • as quoted in Kirk & Okazawa-Rey p. 505
  • The most common way of thinking about environmentAs we’ve learned by now, rights based approaches are important but must be continually fought as rights can always be rolled back.
  • Note the eugenical overtones to concerns about “overpopulation”Bioregionalism thinks it's not that simple, deep ecology doesn't do anything good for marginalize people,


  • 2. Discussion •Why is the environment a part of the feminist project? •How do environmental problems affect women’s bodies and women’s lives?
  • 3. Environment & Women’s Health • Breast cancer • 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer • Early menarche increases risk • Average age of Menarche (onset of first menstrual period) • Rates of early onset (7- 8 yr/old) higher in communities of color 17 14 12.5 10.5 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 1830 1920 1980 2006 Average age of Menarche US
  • 4. Gendered & Environment • Gendered Division of Labor: • Collecting wood to burn for cooking • Finding clean water sources • Nurse ill children/elders • Work in off-shore production zones with few environmental/work- place regulations
  • 5. Lots of Women Activists • Rachel Carson • Wangari Maathai • Erin Brokovich • Vandana Shiva • Lady Bird Johnson • Sandra Steingraber • Many local activists
  • 6. Rachel Carson - Silent Spring • Drew attention to the dangers of pesticides (DDT). • Wants us to see human and non-human animals as part of a single living system (Ecosystem). • Documented the “silencing” effect of killing insects on food chain (birds, small mammals, predators, humans). • Bio-accumulation • The book created the contemporary environmental movement. • She died of breast cancer in 1964.
  • 7. Rose Moon •What are Steingraber’s main arguments?
  • 8. Individualizing Health • “…pregnant women are urged to drink no alcohol. … no one knows if an occasional glass of wine is harmful. Nevertheless, caution dictates … “In ignorance, abstain.” Yet the same principle is not applied to nitrates in tap water.? • “Why is there no public conversation about environmental threats to pregnancy? …. Why does abstinence in the face of uncertain apply only to individual behavior? Why doesn’t it apply equally to industry or agriculture?” • Steingraber, 516-517
  • 9. Precautionary Principle “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.”