Nature Ethics: An Ecofeminist Perspective by Marti Kheel
Lisa Kemmerer analyses a feminist analysis of hunting.
While I was visiting a colleague’s classroom to engage in a debate, a student, who happened to be a hunter, offered this argument as his primary defense for sport killing: “It’s as good as having sex.” As he expounded on the orgasmic pleasures of killing, I was speechless. How does one respond to such an irrational justification for destroying life? Surely no rapist would launch a defense by arguing that his experience was ‘orgasmic’.
In Nature Ethics: An Ecofeminist Perspective, Marti Kheel explores hunting and masculine identity, noting that images of manliness in Western culture require dominance and violence – even to the extent of slaughtering non-threatening creatures such as deer, whose only defense is to take flight. On pages 3-4 she lists eight masculinist tendencies:
• A belief that men in particular are driven by aggressive, self-centered biological drives that require controlled, rational expression;
• A belief in the superiority of sport (competition with publicly recognized rules, associated with valor, power, and prestige) over spontaneous play;
• Preserving the ‘primitive’ environment (the frontier experience) as a legacy for future generations, particularly for boys;
• Ecology and natural history as a basis for connecting past and future generations;
• The moral importance of stewardship over the ‘whole’ of nature;
• An anthropocentric philosophy based on the unique capacity of humans/men for self-conscious deliberation and a transcendent perspective;
• Subordinating concern for individual creatures to larger constructs.