This is not a lengthy documentary, but regardless, Feed the Green: Feminist Voices for the Earth is a rich and, at times, hectic, experience. It is only 37 minutes long, but manages to – via dozens of different women – fill every minute with as much information and opinions as physically possible.
As the film alternates between the women so frequently and fast, there is little time to reflect on each statement. At times, the women are only able to utter a sentence at a time. This could perhaps be viewed as a mirror on a diverse and anti-hierarchical movement? Film maker Jill Caputi has gathered feminist voices from around the world, of all shapes, colours and beliefs. One of these is Vandana Shifa, who some years back visited Oslo and ØKOUKA, then known as ØKOSLO – and filled the hall at the Litteraturhuset. Among the others is the American author and activist Starhawk (Miriam Simos), Professor Jill Schneiderman, the eco-sexual activists Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stevens, and the queer Brazilian grassroots activist La Loba Loca, to name but a few. Together they explore themes linked with suppression and exploitation of women, minorities and Mother Earth – a concept suitably problematized further into the documentary – all the while various excerpts from history, advertising and popular culture underpin the argument that shows the connection between the Western idea of conquering, patriarchal suppression of women (and minorities) and capitalism’s massive exploitation and eradication of nature.
Green feminism. Diversity is as always both a strength and a weakness. I am unable reflect on all these voices in the same genuine manner. To view Earth as a lover is to me showy and fake, so I struggle personally to take the concept of «eco-sexuality» seriously. But there is simultaneously a varying degree of «outrageous» voices, so on the whole the film has a balanced feel to it. It I also liberating to watch a documentary solely with (global) female voices, and where every view is treated as equal.
How many ad campaigns are there where the woman dominates, or is exotified as something mystic, sensual or primitive?
Together they provide a wide and good introduction to green feminism. In certain ways, this is a mere renaming of eco-feminism; a feminist direction whereby patriarchal violence and female domination is viewed alongside environmental degradation and capitalistic exploitation of the earth, animals and humanity. In Feed the Green, this concept is exchanged for green feminism. Green because it is the colour of the life cycle – from springtime sprouts to the rotten mould – and because it is the colour of the ecological movement. This green feminism is presented as diverse, critical of society, spiritual and activist. It ranges from the earthy and practical to the spiritual and sensual – but is unified in the basic view that the feminine and the natural are subjected to genocide. Or rather; «femicide» and «ecocide», respectively.
Within green feminism, women and nature are both seen as something men have, and must, dominated and repressed, something to be conquered and acquired. The serious exploitation of Earth, along with violence against women (and minorities) become two different expressions for the male, rational dominance which make «othering» possible – an expression describing how we define others outside of our group. «They» are not like «us». To equal certain groups of people and animals/nature has been a way of creating them «the others». The more natural, primitive and beastly, thus more inferior and lacking in the same rights as «us» are they. This way of thinking permeates our relationship with nature. We have created this narrative where it is humans against nature, with so many of us distancing us from nature that we might as well believe that we live independent of it.
Dirty lives. The very same reasoning is seen in Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything. Klein also points to the Western rationalising as a force behind the dominance of capitalism and the destruction of nature and climate. You could interject that it is a cliché to blame the white Euro-centric man – but we are not getting away from him (both as an idea and as a central employer of power) as the centuries-old focal exporter of what it means to be a modern human. How often do you not see ads where white men rotate a globe, standing with their feet on it, like a giant, dominating it? How often have you not seen ads where women are being dominated, or exotified as something mystic, sensual and primitive, or visualised as part of the scenery?
Where the feminine and the earthy for ages have been portrayed as dirty and dangerous, the green feminist voices urge us to change our assessment. The earth provides life, and it is filthy – full of bacteria, full of mud, full of sustenance and full of the potential for an eternally growing life cycle. This is the growth we must return to. The growth which not only takes, but also gives. We have made enormous advances, but countless animal – and plant species have been sacrificed for our progress. As a species, humans have already committed ecological genocide, and our ability to rationalise ourselves out of nature put us in danger of falling victim to our own progress and development.
Life, mould and dollar. Increasingly fast we notice the consequences of our actions, with our vulnerability becoming more evident every day. The idea that the human race can dominate and win over nature, is crumbling – whilst global capitalism has overtaken us. And here we are, in different corners. Connected by an ever faster and widespread technology, but increasingly distant from the Earth we so depend upon. This is what the green feminists urge us to see the absurd; that we continue to put ourselves above and apart from animals and nature. We are mere beings who incidentally live on Earth and share it with a number of other creatures, in a life cycle where green signifies both growing life as well as mould – one cannot exist without the other. Simultaneously, we have created a new « force of nature», so powerful that it destroys all in its way. This is also represented by the colour green. This is the Dollar, the capital. One green provides us with life and creation every second of every day. The other green destroys.
The voices of Feed the Green are unanimous in which green to nurture. Go out and plant a tree, they say. See what happens to nature when we leave it in peace. There is no need to look further than to Chernobyl for a contemporary example of nature always finding a way – with or without us.