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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Earth Mother mumbling: green advocacy and gender perspectives

Pic source

"As our boat rocked in that terrible place – the sky buzzing with Black Hawk helicopters and snowy white egrets – I had the distinct feeling we were suspended not in water but in amniotic fluid, immersed in a massive multi-species miscarriage. When I learned that I, too, was in the early stages of creating an ill-fated embryo, I started to think of that time in the marsh as my miscarriage inside a miscarriage. It was then that I let go of the idea that infertility made me some sort of exile from nature, and began to feel what I can only describe as a kinship of the infertile."

Naomi Klein's Guardian article yesterday ("Naomi Klein: the hypocrisy behind the big business climate change battle", retitled "Climate Crimes and the Greenwashing of Big Business" for the Reader Supported News site) runs to 4,508 words, not counting photo captions.

The piece includes some 72 instances of "I" and 50 of "me/my/myself". Women's talk often features more of these words, presumably driven by the instinct for social dominance and attention (noted comically by Miranda Hart - "and back to me" - and slyly exploited by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in his TV cookery scripts to increase the appeal of his show for its female viewer demographic - listen for it if and when the old episodes are re-screened).

The excuse in Klein's case is doubtless that she is not only peeking behind the green front of polluting businesses but mixing in her personal journey towards hard-attained motherhood and deeper eco-commitment.

She also has a book to sell. Although I share her environmental concerns, I shan't be buying it - because I won't be able to read it. It was hard enough to get through her article. I wanted to cut out all the self-referential material and generally do a precis as we were taught to do at school in the Sixties, reducing a piece of prose to about a third of its original length in order to expose the central argument (in Russell Brand's case you can cut 92%, but there's an unusual amount of wind in his head). How like a man, you may say, so impatient and task-oriented.

But if you do this, you'll see how well she picks the flaking green paint off Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg. It's factual, and penetrating.

Set against this male-dominated industrialism is Klein's female, instinctual, emotional response, an Earth Mother feeling the world's desecrated tides inside her as her child forms. Well, maybe I should get in touch with my inner woman.

Yet it's not just men-billionaires and their monstrous appetite for wealth and power that are to blame. Who wants all the stuff they make? The average man would be content to live in a caravan or a tree. Food, drink, a woman and some peace and quiet - all right, a bit of singing if you must, then some peace and quiet. Maybe something to read, and a few pals.

Pic source

Still, I've managed to squeeze in a few first-person pronouns myself. Maybe I'm making progress.


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A K Haart said...

"If we continue on our current path of allowing emissions to rise year after year, major cities will drown, ancient cultures will be swallowed by the seas; our children will spend much of their lives fleeing and recovering from vicious storms and extreme droughts. Yet we continue all the same."

Where does one go with drivel like this? Nobody knows what the climate will do next year, nor why, least of all Klein.

Paddington said...

Sadly, even the simple life for 7.4 billion people requires a lot of industrialization.