Friday, November 20, 2009

Earthlings: Make the Connection

This week, on Monday, I completed the most difficult assignment I have ever had to do – and I want you to do it too.

Dr. Laura Landolt assigned me and the members of my Feminist Theory Class (WGS 320) to watch the documentary “Earthlings.” The film is narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, directed by Shaun Monson, with music by Moby.

Dr. Landolt told us the film was difficult and disturbing to watch – that’s why she made it an individual assignment prior to class discussion. “I can’t make you watch it (as a class,)” she said, “Look away when you have to or just listen to it.”

“Earthlings” is about how humans depend on, and use, animals in our lives. It addresses five areas: pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and science.

With graphic images, combined with haunting music and thought-provoking narration, “Earthlings” illustrates the exploitation, cruelty, and oppression involved in these industries. If you think this is just another animal rights film, think again. “Earthlings” will move you and change you even if you are not an “animal person.”

“Earthlings” left a cold, tight feeling in my solar plexus, it made me cry, it made me angry and disgusted with the human race. It haunted my sleep and stayed with me through the next day.
It’s still with me -- and will be for years to come.

My husband, Chris, did not want to watch the film. “We don’t need to see the cruelty to have compassion,” he said, after finding me upset when he came home from work.

But, I forced myself to watch the whole film and did not look away. Because, as Gretchen Wyler said, “We must not refuse with our eyes what they (animals) must endure with their bodies.” I am not celebrating the completion of my assignment as proof of how strong or how tough I am. I did it because I believe it’s important to look, to get out of denial.

An earthling is one who inhabits the earth – not just human beings. Other life forms have just as much right to be here as we do.

So what does this have to do with feminism? “ I assigned the film to illustrate how all the “-isms” (sexism, racism, ageism, speciesism, naturism, etc.) are connected,” Landolt said. She went on to explain how animals are objectified, and, by connection, so are women and nature.

Leo Tolstoy said, “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.” What that means to me is that we will not have peace as long as these brutal practices continue, because, by extension, we do the same things to each other.'

“Earthlings.” See it. Think about it. Make the connection.

Do Fish have feelings? The answer might surprise you. Check it out at

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