16. 04. 2015

Looking After Mother

Time for another loud bang on the population drum – to celebrate the arrival of a new and excellent film with the simple title, ‘Mother’.

It lasts just over an hour. For You Tubers, that’s going to seem like a lifetime. But I hope they/you stick with it – not least because all the best stuff (based on the testaments of strong, courageous women mapping out what a truly progressive approach to family planning would mean, around the world, but particularly in Africa) comes in the second half.

But the analysis in the first half (albeit fronted mostly by white male academics getting on a bit!), is equally compelling. Short version: if we don’t do something about further limiting population growth and reducing average fertility in the world’s population hotspots, we’re screwed. It really doesn’t matter how much smart technology, enlightened policy-making (if only!) and more responsible lifestyles in the rich world you throw into the pot: we’re still screwed.

And the thing that I just hope will make male, middle-class, notionally left-leaning environmentalists think again about all of this is the feminist perspective that underpins it. The fact that hundreds of millions of women the world over have next to no say in managing their own fertility is not only tragic in and of itself, but is perhaps the most horrendous symptom of a world in which the lives of so many women are diminished or even devastated by countless systems of male oppression. As Riane Eisler so succinctly puts it, it all looks very different “if you see over-population as a function of male domination.”

It helps a lot that one of the principal narrators is a softly-spoken woman from the USA, herself one of ten children in an ever-expanding Roman Catholic family. Her work in Ethiopia (with young women determined to avoid the fate of their own mothers) is movingly unfolded as a story of parallel destinies. And that Roman Catholic link doesn’t stop the editors of ‘Mother’ putting the boot in on the Vatican with some particularly well-placed kicks.

I only wish they’d put the same boot in on the wretched environmental community that just carries on regardless, apart from the odd rhetorical outing to reassure their gullible supporters that population is (albeit on the utter extremities) on their radar. I really don’t know how they keep on getting away with it.

‘Mother’ is a really good piece of work, authoritative but not assertive, rich in statistical analysis but brimful of compassion for the victims of our collective neglect. And I do mean collective. The film’s parting shot is this: “Population growth concerns us all on this planet. End the taboo and talk about it.”

The film, from production company Tiroira, is only on free-stream until the end of April - so catch it now! 

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18. 04. 2015
Thomas C.

Also relevant to this subject, https://populationspeakout.org/the-book/

The book can be viewed in its entirety online via a link at the above web page.

Many stunning photographs and quotes from respected thinkers and commentators.

(btw, the CAPTCHA had me stumped for several attempts)

17. 04. 2015
Thomas C.

Thanks for posting this. I've now watched the film and saved it for others to watch. As a supporter of Population Matters I'm 100 percent in favour of the arguments put forward and that empowering women is absolutely key.

The film seems primarily aimed at a U.S. viewership, particularly the first 10-15 mins and the closing part, but overall the message is global, clear and digestible, treading a delicate line between a kind of "Don't mention the War" and a more outspoken approach to the role of religion.

The part in Ethiopia and the young woman's efforts to change her own life and those of others brought tears to my eyes.

As you say, the silence of global environmental movements on issues of over-population could have featured.

I noticed the film is copyright 2013, so I guess it's "newness" right now is down to the full version being available on YouTube. The "through April" in the uploader's comment suggests this is a case of get it while you can.

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