LETTER TO MEN
Women on Fire is not intended to marginalise you, nor to say that we can do without you, for we can't, just as you cannot without us. We are the same species, but across the planet women are not equal to men.
It's rather ironic that it is our gender that grows and nourishes the next generation, and as far as nature is concerned you might think the nurturer would be the more valued. Perhaps it is because until DNA testing you could never be sure that it was you that fathered that child, so you confined us in an attempt to control us, and you supported each other in that process. And when all is said and done, you are mostly the physically stronger, and physical subordination is always an option.
Worldwide there are changes in our climate. Not changes in the weather, which is naturally changeable in countries like the UK, but changing patterns that directly affect local environments; stronger, more frequent hurricanes, rising sea levels, drought and floods, themselves often the direct consequence of cutting down the trees that kept the hillsides solid. Some of this climate change may be due to cycles in the life of the planet, or the solar system, but much of it is down to us.
In the West we are profligate consumers. Because of global trade we have no knowledge of how that aluminium ring pull on a can is taken from the earth, nor at what human cost nor degradation to the local environment. We would certainly notice if it was our forest home that was invaded by the mechanisation of a huge corporation, a company granted rights to mine by others in a city far away. But we buy and throw away, unaware. To the power of billions.
Because we've been doing this for a long time, all the untapped earthly resources like metals and minerals are in places that haven't yet been westernised or invaded. These are places where the chainsaw and the bulldozer are unknown. Very often these are the places where people live in harmony with their natural environment, taking only as much as they need so that nature can always replenish...a natural restocking of a larder that sustains a modest lifestyle.
We who are passive consumers, passive bystanders to greed, brutality and foolish disregard for the health of our environment, must wake up. Many of you men know this. Many of you offer great energy and intelligence as scientists, writers, activists, artists, even as politicians, to the business of alerting and informing humanity, and to devising alternative ways of sustaining human life on earth.
But it's not working, is it? For just as the vast majority of decision makers are men, so most of those continue to behave as if perpetual economic growth was viable. The earth does not have infinite resources for us to plunder. For as much as you wise men work in your division, whole armies of men blind to consequence continue to grab, stash, store, strike deals and posture pointless debate.
And just as the people whose forest is invaded by the giant corporation find it hard to be heard, or have no idea how to get heard, so too many of the women in the world. To us, dear men, whether in the boardroom or among the creed-makers, it's a stitch-up.
Of course we have played our part in letting that happen. We often find decisive, powerful men attractive. There are biological advantages in securing the loyalty of a successful man and we might use sex, food or physical allure to foster that loyalty in you. Where women have no authority over their lives and are denied, for example, contraception, the right to earn money or to make choices for themselves or their children, they have few ways to improve their lot except by manipulating men.
Western women are much freer than our peers in other cultures. We are able to make choices that are inconceivable to those women, choices that were hard won by our grandmothers or great-grandmothers. So we who have a voice might take it upon ourselves to speak on behalf of the women who do not. We may sometimes lack conviction. We who cross the room to turn on a tap can little imagine the plight of the woman who must walk miles for water, daily, each pace away from home one nearer the risk of rape.
This is not to blame you, but to invite your support. There is one trump card the human species hasn't played as it hurtles towards what some see as self-extinction: woman as decision-maker. We have different skills, we use our brains differently. Not better, just different.
Of course the "blind" men will not want to yield control. We are not attempting to wrest it from them, nor from you who read this. Our female bodies are designed to grow and nourish the new. Most humans will have to develop new lifestyles if there is not to be all out war for such fundamental resources as clean water, basic food and fuel. We're not waiting for you men as decision makers to lead the way. We're going to carry on listening to instinct, and listen to each other too. More than that, we're inviting the earth, without whose cycles and other life-forms none of us can live, to guide, inform and inspire us.
You can do that too. The reason we're separating ourselves is because so many of us have got used to following your lead, doing it your way, or our version of your way, or quite simply trying to impress you, attract you or seduce you. Or, much more likely, we feel diminished in your presence.
So we need a little time to get a new system up and running. If you think any of our projects have merit, please help them to happen. If you can see a solution that we cannot, please tell us. Although like you we operate in a monetary world, the fundamental currency of Women on Fire is joy. Joy in the unassailable right to love, to care, to wonder, to delight in and appreciate all of nature's gifts. We know that is true of you too.
© Judith Seelig on behalf of Women on Fire UK