Response to Channel 4
Last night’s ‘What the Green Movement Got Wrong’ documentary launched a Twitter storm of protests to the one-sided misinformation calculated to discredit traditional green values and political projects. The debate on Twitter was entertaining yet unfortunately most viewers will not have been sitting at their computers and will have been subjected less critically to the one-sided polemic that hit the airwaves. Towards the end of the two-part programme the dismal lack of female voices on the Channel Four documentary became apparent and a new sub-theme emerged on Twitter regarding the exclusion of women from the debate.
Channel Four editors claim they could not find any women and that those that they asked refused. I can certainly understand why a woman would refuse to allow herself to have her position misrepresented, ruthlessly discredited through biased, severely selective, and ill-informed journalism. If women environmentalists were enabled to make a document about ‘What the Green Movement Got Right’ we would have a fair platform. Unfortunately, what Channel Four wanted was a few environmentalists to argue their positions in a mosh-pit debate in a little post-documentary forum. By fabricating an illusion of fairness they attempt to escape properly presenting the green arguments. Although some debaters did an excellent job at debunking Channel Four’s corporate green spin – the show still managed to disseminate some deeply anti-green ideas as described by George Monbiot this morning in this blog post ‘Deep Peace in Techno-Utopia.’
The women vs. men issue is not about tick boxing. It is about presenting powerful and dominant political positions as the only perspective in town. It’s about recognizing that power inequalities exist due to historical exclusion of women’s voices from public debate. Ultimately, the environment is a feminist issue.
Feminism, with its legacy of struggle to pull half of the human race out of oppression, has a deep and far reaching critique of the conceptual frameworks sanctioning the domination of women. This same critique is easily transferable to the domination of Nature, the exclusion of Nature’s voice from public debate, and disregard for Nature’s needs. Karen Warren explains why feminism is essential for environmentalists:
‘A responsible environmental ethic must embrace feminism. Otherwise even the seemingly most revolutionary, liberational, and holistic ethic will fail to take seriously the interconnected dominations of nature and women that are so much a part of the historical legacy and conceptual framework that sanctions the exploitation of nonhuman nature.’
According to Warren, an understanding of the connections between oppressions of woman and nature is critical because:
- It accurately represents historical reality
- It is necessary to understand the ‘logic of domination’
- Because feminist analysis reveals how domination works and what strategies have worked to resist domination.
The oppression of woman, human ‘others’ (i.e. the global south, indigenous people, the disempowered in this country etc.) and the non-human ‘others’ are all connected. Feminist analysis reveals the unjust social conditions and institutional practices supporting domination as demonstrated blatantly by the exclusion of women’s voices on Channel Four documentary last night.
When I watched the programme and debate afterwards of the insistence on, even celebration of, a particularly agonistic and two-sided polemic. It made me remember a book by Deborah Tannen which draws links between masculinity and agonistic politics.
Spaces that exclude women have this kind of one-upmanship dynamic. Television producers are more interested in drama than solving societal problems. The result is debased public debate.