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Dark Ecology: Race, Gender & the Environment

English 252 @ Hunter College

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women

Nature As Mirror

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Remember
Joy Harjo, 1951

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
Remember.

As part of National Poetry Month, I have been trying read or post a poem a day. When I encountered this poem, I couldn’t help but think of the works we have read in class this semester: Mother Nature by Emily Dickinson; The Last Man by Mary Shelly; and, Prospero’s Daughter by Elizabeth Nunez. As Joy Harjo has done, Dickinson, Shelly, and Nunez all personify nature in order to raise awareness about or strengthen our connection to the natural world. Nature, in these works, is seen as having both positive as well as less than noble characteristics similar to traits and flaws possessed by humans.

All of these authors have understood that humanity is not only one aspect of nature, but humanity is also dependent on the natural world for survival. Mankind is but one component of the ecosystem—it is not separate from this planet’s ecology. As Mary Shelley expressed, without man, nature will continue; however, without nature, mankind will disappear. Therefore, it is incumbent on us all to protect the very world that has given us a great deal of what may be extremely dear to us: clean air, water, sunshine, nourishment, shelter material, and familial bonds.

In their own way, these women want to remind us how all life that exists emerges from what is in existence and has already existed. Woven through these works, the awe-inspiring aspects of nature are described. Through the characters, the authors show how, first, nature seems to have an innate appeal—serves a primitive need in humans; and, secondly, temperamentally, man and nature mirror each other. All life appears to operate on both a balance and a spectrum. Dickinson introduces us to the unconditionally benign “gentlest mother” Nature. Shelley, on the other hand, begins with an authoritative veil by calling Nature “herself was only his first minister”; however, as the story progresses, Shelley depicts an unleashed, angry, and revengeful Nature who answers to no one. Finally, Nunez depicts a Nature oppressive to some but not to all—where some reject it while others embrace and welcome it as is. In all three works, we glimpse moments where Nature demonstrates its duality as well as our human powerlessness against its ferocity. And, in not so many words, this is what Joy Harjo is expressing in her poem, Remember. For Harjo, hubris has no place in this world as we are all one with nature. Man has the ability to provoke nature, but man cannot control it. Ultimately, man is but a small player in the universe.

 

“Remember” By Joy Harjo YouTube Video

“Remember” by Joy Harjo

Mother Nature by Emily Dickinson

Beauty of Nature (YouTube)

Nature’s Fury: The Science of Natural Disasters (AMNH)

 

A Stolen Voice

The content may contain subject of disturbance.

Timothy Morton explains ‘dark ecology’ as a means of expressing the “irony, ugliness, and horror” of ecology. So, what does that mean in the real world? It is the deformity in nature, be it environmental or human. One example of this deformity is rape, a subject our culture demeans but does not put an effort to prevent it. It degrades women, if she is the victim, but is not the case for men. If a man were to claim that he was raped, he would be ridiculed by society. According to society, men are not seen as victims but rather seen as the culprit. Hence, we do not hear about those cases often. In cases of rape, the fight that women have to put up with in order to make their voices heard on a larger scale of the justice system, is unbelievable and unimaginable. One would think that in a time where we are incredibly advanced in technology, justice for rape might be clear as well right? Well in reality, compared to technology, justice for rape is similar to the technology in the 1800’s, barely there. That is only because the world is run by men, who do not see rape being a problem and do not see it through the victim’s eyes. They are not able to comprehend what being a rape victim feels like or how undermining their actions are. To them, the idea of rape is not rape, it is a means of pleasure, not only for the man but the woman as well.

I chose this topic because it has been a problem ever since the creation of men and women and it is relatable to our class. Recently, I was asked to watch the movie “Thelma & Louise” directed by Ridley Scott, a movie about two women, Thelma Dickinson and Louise Sawyer. Thelma is a married woman with a controlling husband, who makes her decisions for her, as if she has no opinion of her own. Louise is Thelma’s friend who works as a waitress and has a boyfriend who is a musician. Tired of the same lifestyle, they both decide to go on a two-day mini-vacation away from the problems. Thelma goes without her husband’s “permission” which according to the society at the time that the movie takes place, is inexcusable. On the way to the vacation place, they stop at a roadhouse, where they drink a little and dance with people and let loose. After a while, Thelma starts to feel uncomfortable in the environment and starts to feel sick so, Harlan, the person she that she dances with takes her out of the roadhouse for some fresh air. Once outside, he starts to forcefully kiss her and rip her clothes. He, in this moment would have taken this chance to rape her if Louise had not come to save her. As they walk away, Harlan makes nasty remarks toward the women forcing Louise to kill him. Because Thelma did not give into Harlan’s advances, Harlan takes the chance to ridicule her. This goes to show that if a woman does not give into a man’s sexual intentions, then the woman is the one who gets humiliated because of her choice not to give in. Louise helping Thelma escape from Harlan shows his failure. If Thelma and Louise were to go to the cops to tell of this, they would be the one who will be blamed because they were the ones drinking and they were the ones who decides to dance with Harlan. In the end, they would be the one getting blamed. The fear of no one believing them as they were drinking, forces them to go on the run. Louise asks her boyfriend to bring her life savings which she gets robbed of by a man she had tried to help by letting him hitch a ride. After that moment, they commit a series of crimes, some to survive and others to teach creeps a lesson, all of this escalates only because of one fear, which was whether or not the society would believe Thelma if she were to tell about the attempted rape and Louise killing a MAN in self-defense? Louise knows the answer already because she had been raped in Texas but no one was there to help her. No one stepped in, to help her serve justice. The dark nature of men was revealed to her then. Hence, the answer at large was no.

This issue should not only be raised in a movie, but also has to be questioned in reality. Recently a female was raped by a drunk Stanford student whose father described the rape as, “20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” What the father did not think was, how the “20 minutes of action” had impacted the young woman. He did not think of the pain that the “20 minute of action” had caused. He did not think of his son’s prosecutor who had publically defamed, and humiliated the victim, for his son’s “20 minutes of action.” He did not think the “20 minutes of action” had taken her life from her. Not only did it physically affect her, it affected her psychologically as well. It took her dignity from her. It took away something that she cherished the most, her independency, her freedom. After his son had the “20 minutes of action”, the son told the world “She Liked it.” Not only was the father who believe in the “20 minute of action” but so did the judge. In fear of not causing a “severe impact” on the 20-year-old, the judge gave a rapist only six months of jail time and three years of parole. So, the “20 minute of action” by a 20 years old men was not taken seriously as even grand larceny offenders will receive 1- 4 years of jail time however this man whole stole something so precious from a woman that because of it she will live in fear for the rest of her life however, her dignity, her independency was not enough to be worth of 1000 dollars. This showed that robbery of something worth a 1000 dollars was more criminating than taking someone’s innocence, and her pride from her. This shows that the justice system had failed her and not only her but all other rape victims out there. It failed to show that rape victims should not fear to raise their voices against it. It did not protect the other weak innocents by giving a more meaningful sentence which would instill fear in other perpetrators. Instead a rapist was given jail time so lenient that a year worth of fighting for it and facing the humiliation seemed worthless and embarrassing. The young women walked out with more fear than she had walked in with, fear of the justice system and fear of men. For the man it was a sense of pride for taking something forceful from a women and putting her on display for the mortification. For him, it was a win, something he could be proud of and something his father is proud of, but for the woman, it was a horrid situation, something that will haunt her for as long as she lives and something that she cannot take back from him.

This essay/blog showed the ugliness the world has within it. The aspect of dark ecology that is manmade. That despite being put on trial a rapist got away with a lenient sentence. A woman had lost her privacy and her confidence, two women had lost their freedom and all of the other victims that are out there, had lost their voices because of the unjust done to them along with many other women who or did not try to fight it, because according to the world “20 minutes of action” would ruin a life, the person who has performed the action, not the victim who is the recipient of the malicious crime.

work citation

Movie:

 

Thelma & Louise. Dir. Ridley. Scott. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1991. DVD.

 

Picture:

Thomas, Emily. “Rape Is Grossly Underreported In The U.S., Study Finds.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 21 Nov. 2013. Web.                                     <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/21/rape-study-report-america-                      us_n_4310765.html>.

 

For more information on the case:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2016/06/04/you-took-away-my-worth-a-rape-victim-delivers-powerful-message-to-a-former-stanford-swimmer/?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.5d14a54270eb

 

Modern Tempest Act 1, Scene 1

Act 1

Scene 1

Aiza Khan, Keminsto, Geovanni Hyman, Hkwon, Xuxiang Li

Scenery/ Setting

  • In a plane with many scared people but one
  • Hostess and the King advisory quarrel
  • Constant attacks on the plane

Props

  • Sunglasses
  • Costumes
  • Stage
  • Lighting
  • Special effects
  • Sea

Costume Design

  • Suits
  • Hostess uniform
  • And co-pilots uniform

Director/ Assistant Director

  • Ship, is now a Plane.
  • Who causes the Storm? Savages who contain weapons.
  • How did the plane crash? Missiles.

Stage directions

Enter Co-Pilot,

A young female enters the pilot cabin trying to help the pilot

Pilot:

Sam I don’t think we will be able to make it, the engine is failing and the wind is making it impossible to land safely. The only way to have a chance at survival is to steer this thing towards the water and we need parachutes. Did the hostesses find them?

Sam:

No sir, they did not.

Pilot:

God damnit! Those men are not making it any easier for them. Can you go and relax their nerves because we do not have enough time!

Exits Pilot.

Enters Hostesses and men in suits.

Sam enters the passengers cabin. (BOOM) Plane gets hit again. Everything slows down, as if the scene is playing in slow motion. The king and his men could be seen screaming however, their voices sound like as if they are coming from distance, having little or no impact at all on the audience. The hostesses are suppose to be running but it seems as if they are still. Sam cannot comprehend the reality. Fear of not surviving has her gripped. Panic starts to blossom in her chest. To Sam, time became still, as if years have passed and the scene is still not going any faster however, in reality it only has been a few seconds. Some hostesses are trying their best to cover the hole from the sides but are failing to stop the wind from taking over. Others are looking for more parachutes franticly but the fear has them blinded. Suddenly, something snaps inside of Sam and she realizes she’s not going to die, not today, not because of some savages! She’s a fighter and she will continue to fight.

Hostess:

Captain! Captain! Are you okay?

Sam:

Damnit! I’m fine. How are we doing on parachutes?

Hostess

Ma’am we do not have enough!

A man, usually the one who shows great bravery and courage, was worried and maybe for the first time scared. He got up and started to walk towards another man but this man is younger and seemed as if he was not fazed by the current events instead, he stared out the window, at the blue ocean, lost in his own thoughts.

Sam:

King Alonso, PLEASE BE SEATED!

The King seems to ignore her and continues to his son and sits with him. 

Sebastian, Antonio, and Gonzalo enter.

They approach Sam and start questioning.

Antonio:

Are we going to survive?

Sam

Sir, if you could stay seated, it would be safer and almost easier on us.

Antonio

Well, I’m not going anywhere without answers! Now, are we going to survive?!

Sam

Sir, you need to be seated and let me do my job! If you wish to survive, let me do my job!

Sebastian (angrily):

You women, are no good! Let me talk to the pilot myself!

Sam:

Let me be clear SIR, I AM A PILOT! And if I were you, I would take myself to my seat and pray to god for forgiveness for all the sins you have committed and ask of him to fix your corrupted soul, and I would let me, as a CO-PILOT, do MY job. Because if I don’t do my job, that’s when you should be worried. Now, if you do not take this WOMEN’S advice seriously, I will personally make sure you don’t survive. So, did I make myself clear?

Gonzalo takes Antonio and Sebastian away.

Sam Rushes to the pilot cabin

Enter Pilot 

Pilot:

GOD DAMNIT! THE PLANE IS ABOUT TO CRASH IN THE WATER! DO WE HAVE ENOUGH PARACHUTES?

Sam:

(Screaming over the engine and wind sound) NO! WE DON’T!

Time seems to be racing to the end and everything seems to be going too fast to comprehend the situation. Despite having enough parachutes no one realized they did, as no one had counted. The fear of death had everyone startled and disorientated. Everyone but one soul, was affected by the crashing plane. Everyone was praying for safety and a miracle but one soul, the prince. 

Exists Pilot and Co- Pilot

 Enter Angry Gonzalo takes Antonio and Sebastian

 Antonio

How dare she speak to us in that tone?

 Sebastian

Actually, I’m sort of relieved after talking to her. I have faith that she will save us and after she does, I will hang her. As we have witnessed, she is a fighter and will fight to survive and as long as she does, we will survive as well. After that, we will publically hang her, so that no one will dare to talk to us in such a manner.

Gonzalo         

At the moment, I’m more focused on who is trying to kill us. And, what are the odds of the tempest coming out of the blue, when we are getting hit by missiles, as if those savages are controlling it. All I hope is that, even if we are to die, I die on land and be buried with dignity and honor.

Plane gets hit again, screams are heard, and the plane crashes. Tempest had calmed down and an evil being had won.

End of Act 1, Scene 1.

links for more reading on the tempest

http://nfs.sparknotes.com/tempest/

Works Citation

Crowther, John, ed. “No Fear The Tempest.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2005. Web. 6 Apr. 2017.

Shakespeare, William, Gerald Graff, and James Phelan. The Tempest: A Case Study in Critical Controversy. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000. Print.

Sade, Women and Nature

There is power in music. Which is one of the reasons why I admire Sade. Her words vibrate through my soul and feed my subconscious pure goodness. One’s choice of music can truly have an impact on their character and overall life. As a young teenager, listening to Sade, I learned the significance of nature. I began to understand that there was no separation between me and my environment. With this awareness, I acknowledged my true power.

Sade recognizes the connection between women and nature. In many of her videos, she portrays herself as Mother Earth. She is either under the sea, on top of a mountain or in the middle of the desert. No matter where she is, it’s most likely amongst nature. There is no separation between her and her surroundings. Sade humanizes nature. Reminding us that Mother Nature is alive, she is here and present with us, at all times.

THE ESSENCE OF NATURE IS FEMININE

The term “Mother Nature” is not used by coincidence… A female’s womb creates life and so does nature. The ways in which a nurturing mother supports her child, through pregnancy, breast feeding and pure affection, is closely linked to the support nature provides for us and all other species. From fruits, vegetables, to the air that we breathe, nature is always here to be our loving mother. She responds to us and is constantly evolving with us.

“WHEN WOMEN REASSERT THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WILDISH NATURE, THEY ARE GIFTED WITH A PERMANENT AND INTERNAL WATCHER, A KNOWER, A VISIONARY, AN ORACLE, AN INSPIRATRICE, AN INTUITIVE, A MAKER, A CREATOR, AN INVENTOR, AND A LISTENER WHO GUIDES, SUGGESTS AND URGES LIFE IN THE INNER AND OUTER WORLD.” – CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTES

Below I added two of my favorite music videos by Sade. In the first video, she represents herself as Mother Earth. In the second video, she reveals herself as a nurturing mother. Aside from this, her words are influential and soulful. I hope these videos resonate with you as they do with me. Xoxo

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