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Scheherazade’s Daughters

The Power of Storytelling in Ecofeminist Change


Barbara Bennett

Scheherazade, the storyteller of 1001 Arabian Nights, recounts stories literally to save her people, and in Scheherazade’s Daughters, Barbara Bennett explores how contemporary female authors attempt to save their own world by telling compelling stories that disseminate ideas of justice and equality for all living things, a philosophy called ecofeminism. Bennett examines how ecofeminism works in works by Margaret Atwood ( Surfacing, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Oryx & Crake), Barbara Kingsolver ( Animal Dreams, The Poisonwood Bible, and Prodigal Summer), and Ruth Ozeki ( My Year of Meats and All over Creation).
Bennett also analyzes ecofeminism in autobiography and memoir in Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge, Janisse Ray’s Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, and Sandra Steingraber’s Living Downstream. Lastly through Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits, Ana Castillo’s So Far from God, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Bennett investigates how magical realism can spread the positive ideas of ecofeminism.
This groundbreaking book dissects the power of literature to convert minds and hearts in a direction that has the potential, like Scheherazade’s stories, to change our world for the better.


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4. Ruth Ozeki—“Truths That Alter Outcomes” 93


aCHAPTER FOUR Ruth Ozeki “Truths That Alter Outcomes” One of the most sensitive subjects to discuss in ecofeminism is, perhaps surprisingly, food—that is, choosing foods that fit with the ecofeminist belief in equality and environmentalism, especially when it comes to carnivore versus vegetarian. Even the most staunch environmentalist or feminist can have trouble with the suggestion that abstaining from meat should be part of being an ecofeminist, and yet most will agree, in theory, that all life should be valued. The terms “speciesism,” has been defined by Peter Singer, author of the groundbreaking book on animal rights Animal Liberation, as “a prejudice or attitude of bias in favor of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species” or put more plainly, the belief “that human life, and only human life, is sacrosanct” (6, 18). Admitting that speciesism goes against the tenets of ecofeminism, then, would require a vegetarian lifestyle, and this is where the debate gets heated. This is not a new discussion, of course. In 1780, for example, Jeremy Bentham, a social philosopher, argued for the rights of animals in his book Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation by stating “The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?” Debate all one can, the majority of Americans resist considering the moral consequences of what they consume. And animals/meat is not the only consideration. With genetic engineering, cloning, and hybrid plants, people are...

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