In feminist and liberation theory, the misty, forbidding passes of the Mountains of Dualism have swallowed many an unwary traveller in their mazes and chasms. In these mountains, a well-trodden path leads through a steep defile to the Cavern of Reversal, where travellers fall into an upside-down world which strangely resembles the one they seek to escape. Trapped Romantics wander here, lamenting their exile, as do various tribes of Arcadians, Earth Mothers, Noble Savages and Working-Class Heroes whose identities are defined by reversing the valuations of the dominant culture. Postmodernist thinkers have found a way to avoid this cavern, and have erected a sign pointing out the danger, but have not yet discovered another path across the mountains to the promised land of liberatory politics on the other side. Mostly they linger by the Well of Discourse near the cavern, gazing in dismay into the fearful and bottomless Abyss of Relativism beyond it. The path to the promised land of reflective practice passes over the Swamp of Affirmation, which careful and critical travellers, picking their way through, can with some difficulty cross. Intrepid travellers who have found their way across the Swamp of Affirmation into the lands beyond often either fall into the Ocean of Continuity on the one side or stray into the waterless and alien Desert of Difference on the other, there to perish. The pilgrim’s path to the promised land leads along a narrow way between these two hazards, and involves heeding both difference and continuity.
– Val Plumwood, Feminism and the Mastery of Nature (Routledge, 2003), p3