Feminism and the Mastery of Women


Nall, Jeffery


Ph.D, Comparative Studies—Feminism,Gender and Sexuality

Dr Nall's monograph uses a title that may seem familiar since it is a tribute to Val Plumwood’s classic ecofeminist work ,Feminism and the Mastery of Nature(Routledge). Nall, like Plumwood, explores the dominant Western discourse around gender and childbirth. The research examines the connections between the understanding of women and nature and the construction of pervasive conceptualizations and practices of childbirth. It also examines the relationship between conceptualizations of men and masculinity, culture and nature, and childbirth.

Feminism and the Mastery of Women and Childbirth identifies prominent characteristics and themes related to childbirth in both popular culture, such as Hollywood films (Knocked Up, The Backup Plan), documentaries (The Business of Being Born), birth guides, magazines, news articles, websites, and scholarly, medical and alternative healthcare discourse. It considers how various conceptualizations of childbirth are used to legitimate, or, alternately, to undermine, patriarchal gender norms such as emphasized femininity and patriarchal (hegemonic) masculinity. More generally, the work contemplates the influence of “master consciousness” (Val Plumwood 1993), a way of understanding the world that is reliant on an unjustifiably dualistic thinking and that is responsible for fostering social practices of domination, in structuring American beliefs about childbirth and gender. Perhaps most importantly, this work sets out to consider the implications of alternative conceptualizations of childbirth emerging in the context of the natural birth movement, and to determine whether or not understandings of childbirth counteract patriarchal gender categories and the culture/nature dualism.

The significance of this work is that it addresses a lacuna in philosophical and feminist theory literature on the subject of nature, gender and childbirth. There are simply no research works that implement ecofeminist philosophy to examine cultural representations of gender and childbirth. It provides a unique ecofeminist examination of conceptualizations and practices of childbirth. This work is also timely as it critically analyzes the relationship between ideas about culture and nature pertaining to birth practices at a time when technological birth interventions have become increasingly common and, in some cases, dangerous.

Feminist Theory, Gender Studies, Sexuality,Ecofeminism, Mother and Child,Ethics and Practice of Childbirth/Delivery, Medical Ethics, Cultural Studies
Release Date: 
December 15, 2013
Cloth: 978-1-936320-78-3
Trim Size: 
6 x 9

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