I bring several ecofeminist critiques of deep ecology to bear on mainstream animal rights theories, especially on the rights and utilitarian treatments of the animal research issue. Throughout, I show how animal rights issues are feminist issues and clarify the relationship between ecofeminism and animal rights.
I offer a very qualified argument to the effect that rights are grounded in a certain sort of prejudice that privileges individualistic and perhaps masculinist ways of thinking about moral life. I also propose that we look carefully at other conceptions of social ontology and moral life, including the much discussed care conception.
I discuss six problems with Warwick Fox’s “The Deep Ecology–Ecofeminism Debate and Its Parallels” and conclude that until Fox and some other deep ecologists take the time to study feminism and ecofeminist analyses, only disputes—not genuine debate—will occur between these two parties. An understanding of the six issues that I discuss is a precondition for such a debate.
One August evening in a sweated Virginia field that led to a pond I frequented just to hear frogs burble up and see the west sky turn an erotic, apricot orange, I was surrounded by seven four month-old Angus calves who formed a sort of fairy ring around me. They’d grown used to me there at dusk, when I often watched them group, huddle, and hunch, like quarterbacks. Then explode unpredictably in pursuit of the first calf to break rank and (...) flee. Or they might side-butt, or utter-butt, or butt-butt a cow, who would swing her rear end, swart her deft tail, until her tormentors finally galloped off, graceful as fat butterflies. Most usually they’d lock imaginary horns in scattered pairs or in threesomes and go at it.. (shrink)