Towards the end of the new movie, This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein, author of the book that inspired the film, notices something about who’s leading the charge for change.
They come from sacrifice zones, the very same places the powers that be have written off for environmental or ecological devastation. There’s another thing about those leaders too. From Beijing to Montana to the Alberta Tar Sands, those in the front lines of resistance are women.
"Women are in the forefront of the struggle against sacrifice zones because women and those seen as female, know a thing or two about being sacrificed."
In one stirring scene, Indian grandmothers plant themselves in front of the filmmaker’s car, refusing to let it pass until they’re sure its bound for the village not the nearby coal mine. In another, a Chinese filmmaker asks her daughter if she’s ever seen blue sky and the film of the encounter attracts millions of viewers in a week.
There’s Naomi, too, of course. In her book, she touches on her struggle to get pregnant and her suspicions about pollution.
My point though, isn’t that female biology explains female behavior. I don’t believe it. But women’s experiences are relevant.
I think women are in the forefront of the struggle against sacrifice zones because women and those seen as female, know a thing or two about being sacrificed. Take right now. Every armed force from ISIS to the UN seems to agree that women’s bodies can be sacrificed for the purposes and pleasure of soldiers.So too, women’s work. A new McKinsey study reports that women are still doing 75 percent of the unpaid work around the world. In the U.S. alone, that adds up to $1.5 trillion in value each year - sacrificed.
All too often our lives and life-chances are just too inconvenient to mention. When Pope Francis on his trip to the US, met for a moment with an opponent of marriage equality - it caused a firestorm. The fact that he was surrounded the entire time by men and an institution that opposes female equality - was met with a respectful hush.
"Women," as Barbara Kruger so famously said, "your body is a battleground." So It’s no surprise we know a thing or two about sacrifice zones -- and for that matter, about resistance.