Movie Review: Girl Rising
"Once again we are presented with a campaign to end third world poverty and oppression that is incapable of confronting the roots of this oppression because it is bound up in the cycle it pretends to critique."(1)
I couldn't of put it better myself as those are the exact same sentiments/thoughts that went through my head as I watched Girl Rising, the highly touted new documentary film that is concerned with drawing attention to, and putting a stop to the oppression of young girls in the "developing world."
Now, being that this special aired on the info-tainment CNN television station I decided to watch to see just how exactly cable TV would handle this topic. Predictably enough, CNN and their NGO partners (Non Governmental Organizations) show us what most anti-imperialists are already aware of: that most wimmin and girls in the Third World suffer at exponentially higher rates than their First World counterparts. Beyond that however, the film didn't really make any poignant statements relative to the emancipation of wimmin, neither did they explain to us how these girls are supposed to rise, despite the film's name. Instead, the film-makers, the so-called NGOs, and the corporate sponsors they are both in bed with, used the children depicted in the film as a way to launch yet another offensive at the supposedly backwards culture of the oppressed. The take away? "Just look at how miserable these girls in the Third World are, look at how they suffer." The reason? Backwards, internal development, lack of First World ingenuity and innovation, and the reactionary culture of the global south. And the answer? Immediate imperialist intervention whether by bullion or by bullet.
Girl Rising is a movie centered around the life experiences of five Third World girls whose stories are told to us in order to garner much-needed attention to the endemic problem of gross patriarchal oppression in the periphery. Yet the patriarchy is never even referred to. Furthermore, the film leaves one with a rather pessimistic outlook for girls in the impoverished zones absent a western-style bourgeois democracy. And indeed, it would seem then that this documentary was designed just to induce such feelings. Conveniently enough this film fails to mention just how the oppressor of wimmin and girls in these countries is not mere happenstance, but systematic and directly linked to the uneven development of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Nor does it mention that the systematic oppression of young children in these societies (as the ones featured in Girl Rising) are a permanent fixture and of complete necessity for the ongoing parasitic privilege of beneficiary populations such as the United $tates. The perpetuation of capitalism in these countries, and the finance capital that is sent there and dressed in the veneer of "aid," is part and parcel of keeping these nations from developing self-sufficient economies independent of the global status quo.
Almost every other commercial during this two hour presentation is from some imperialist multi-national bragging about what they do for Third World wimmin and girls, when in reality all they are doing is commodifying these girls' oppression. Capital One, BNY Wealth Management and Intel all had their greedy hands in the cookie jar. Here's a perfect example: During an Intel commercial that aired during the movie, a narrative states: "A girl is not defined by what society sees, but how she sees herself." Now, besides the obvious commercialization of its product, Intel is just flat out wrong because, while that sweet philosophical statement holds some truth here in the United $tates where wimmin have "rights" (privileges) and know how to have them enforced, it is a completely different story in the Third World where the gender roles are not the same and are directly dependent on capital.
Amerika maintains the image that they are the gold standard when it comes to gender relations, just as they maintain the gold standard when it comes to how they treat their workers. Point in fact, the very first commercial during the film is brought to us by a feminine hygiene product maker depicting their version of how they see girls rising in the periphery. They show us how they make an African girl's dream come true by giving her the chance to direct a commercial for the day. Surely this dream is not reflective of the billions of Third World girls currently toiling under the weight of comprador regimes, death squads, sexual slavery, feudalistic landlords, and assembly line sweatshops. No, from the looks of this girl it is the dream of a privileged sector child whose parents might very well be a part of the technocratic petty-bourgeois intelligentsia of this much hyped "developing world." A far cry from the realities of the lives depicted in the film.
From little Wadley in disease ridden and underdeveloped Haiti, whose dream is to be able to attend school with her mates, but who is unfortunately unable to because her mother just doesn't have the money. Or Zuma in Nepal who was sold into slavery as a child, was liberated from her abusive masters by a teacher and now as a young adult organizes other girls to liberate those still held in captivity. Yazmin in Egypt who is no more than nine but is raped by some scumbag and then refused help from the police because the chance of prosecution is little to none. Azmera in Eritrea who narrowly escapes a life in bondage, and Senna in Peru whose life seems doomed to mining for scraps of gold. All these lives and their portrayal in Girl Rising are but glimpses into the real yoke of imperialist oppression.
We are constantly told that the mode of production called capitalism is the best humynity has to offer, and that a capitalist economy has already been proven superior to socialism, yet whenever the mode of production has been revolutionized and a socialist economy has been put into effect the people of those societies have seen a tremendous growth in the overall well being of their populations. This is most notably true for wimmin who've been immediately pulled out of their traditional roles as housewives and mothers and thrown directly into the production process, in which they help their nation create not only sustainability but wealth (in particular see socialist China and the USSR). The conditions created by wimmin's participation in the production process likewise creates the condition for participation in the political process where they assume power utilizing revolutionary politics to push people out of the middle and dark ages and into the New Democratic period in which the people truly hold power.
Certainly wherever socialism has triumphed it has been only as a direct result of wimmin's role and participation as guerrilla warriors, battalion captains and proletarian-feminist leaders in liberating her nation from not only the imperialists but the patriarchy; as only by defeating the one can she defeat the other.
The liberation of wimmin is not accomplished via equal pay for equal work nor by the granting of "abortion on demand" as these are really only privileges given to the gender aristocracy for their allegiance to empire. Instead of advocating for more privileges that are contingent on the backs of their Third World "sisters," the NGOs and the First World pseudo-feminists at the helm of such propaganda like Girl Rising and the "Because I am a Girl" campaign(1) should all aim their guns at the imperialist rape and plunder of the periphery that makes it possible for the First World pseudo-feminists to have "abortion on demand" and equal pay for equal work! Real feminist leadership can only come from the proletarian perspective and not from First World wimmin who are really just globally gendered males who have a real material interest in holding up the global system of oppression and exploitation.(2)
"If this campaign actually wants to change 'the plight' of girls then it should endorse wimmin's militias and factory takeovers on the part of women and girls. Such a revolutionary agenda, though, would put it at odds with its corporate sponsors and so, like every NGO, it will remain caught within an imperialist framework."(1)
Liberation of the neo-colonies from the patriarchal grips of the imperialists will set wimmin free in the global countryside; not charity from the imperialist centers.