What Have We Done to Mother Earth?

Mother Earth used to symbolize the power of nature. Early civilizations were careful not to piss her off. Now she is a caricature, rarely referred to except in cartoons and commercials. Even on Earth Day we don’t mention Mother Earth anymore.

That could partly be because motherhood in general doesn’t inspire the awe that it used to. Even before people understood the mechanics of reproduction, they recognized that mothers had something special going on. Life burst forth from females; men weren’t seen as contributing to that process. And over time, men became jealous of the power that women had and sought to control it. Enter patriarchy.

If men hadn’t decided that they had dominion over everything, we wouldn’t be in the mess environmentally that we are in today. The ancients paid close attention to what made nature work and they followed rules that protected it and enabled it to be more productive. But as man became more sophisticated, he began to think that he could bend nature to his will. He stopped worshiping fertility goddesses. He turned his back on Mother Earth, or Mother Nature (the word for nature comes from the Latin, natura, which means “birth” or “character”).

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Disney’s Female Characters

It seems that Disney is losing its nerve. It has never shied away before from titles that announce that the main character is a woman, but it seems that “The Princess and the Frog” changed all that. The next movie due to come out is about Rapunzel, but instead of using the main character’s name, Disney has decided to call it “Tangled.” (Read more about this here.)

It seems that “The Princess and the Frog” didn’t do nearly as well as expected and the powers-that-be pounced on the use of the word “princess” in the title as the reason for its poor showing. They’re convinced that the title kept little boys from seeing the movie. Funny, I don’t remember any problems with audience identification with “The Little Mermaid,” or, going further back, “Snow White,” “Cinderella” or “Sleeping Beauty.” Granted, the word “princess” wasn’t used in those titles, but the main characters are clearly female and Disney has never seemed to worry about that before.

Has there been a shift in attitude toward all things female these days? Or is there another reason for the “failure” of “The Princess and the Frog”? After all, the main characters are black; you might just as well blame racism for the lack of interest in the movie. Or maybe there’s a prejudice against frogs? The last Disney movie that dealt with a transformation from animal to human was “The Beauty and the Beast,” but maybe a beast is more interesting to little boys than a frog. (Although we all know that little boys like frogs.)

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Gender Differences

How far does this equality thing go, anyway? Some feminists insist that there are no intrinsic differences between men and women, or, if there are, they should be done away with. Others believe that women are fundamentally superior to men. Still others believe that men and women each have physiologically-determined characteristics unique to their sex which may or may not determine their behavior. I tend to fall into the latter category, with qualifications. Continue reading “Gender Differences”