Women and Nature Coincide – A Woman’s Place in Society and Nature as an Ally
The Women of: Mujeres del Alba, Chica de Fábrica , Comadre, and Asi Dicen
Piece bvy Luz Capetillo
The closing quote from Mujeres del Alba, the feature film directed by Jimena Montemayor Loyo, goes “Women and earth are political allies,” This theme runs deep throughout the film and resonates in the three short films Comadre (directed by Nicole Chi Amén), Chica de Fabrica (directed by Selma Cervantes), and Así Dicen (directed by Natalia Luque). There is an unbreakable bond between women and nature, women and nature conspire together. Moreover, there’s an intrinsic nature to women, which encompasses many of these stories, of survival and community.
In Mujeres del Alba, the earth moves and the wind blows as tragedies unfold in the mountains of Sierra Madera, Chihuahua. The peaceful wilderness around them is disturbed by the unrest of combat. Men have taken up arms against the oppressive military. They have gone off to fight, but the women stay back to fight their own battle. The wife of Dr. Pablo divulges to her daughter that before her husband’s passing, he said, “First comes my ideal, then my profession, then my children, and after that comes you.” Women are left behind for men’s pursuit of justice. They are responsible for taking care of the homefront, the children, and putting their emotions to the side. Yet, women come together to take care of each other. When a mother and her children hide from the police, a woman lets them stay in their barn. A young girl, Almita Gomez, goes to check on another family. It’s an unspoken rule to check up on each other in times of turmoil. While they may not have guns, what they do have is each other, which is just as powerful.
Comparably, in Comadre directed by Nicole Chi Amén, Marielitos finds solace in her friend group, her comadres. Marielitos is loyal to the young girl she nannies, in part raising her. That is the nature of her job as a nanny. The young girl preps her for the interview questions Marielitos will be asked as the family will be moving away. Truthfully, they’ve let her go because the young girl is too old to be looked after by a nanny. The job of a nanny is cyclical and, sadly, disposable. Marielitos acted as the young girl’s surrogate mother, teaching her Spanish and raising her for twelve years. Now that she no longer serves that purpose, she is fired. It’s Marielto’s friends, nannies themselves, who look out for her and give her the number of someone looking for help. The unspoken and unbreakable bond between Marielitos and her friends isn’t out of obligation or employment, but as the title suggests, camaraderie. As we see Marielitos making that phone call at the end, one can presume she’s destined, once again, to raise another child. That is the nature of her job.
In the same vein, Chica de Fabrica directed by Selma Cervantes Aguilar explores the responsibility we have to one another as women and the pains demanded of us to maintain our jobs. Inés is pregnant and the sweatshop she works at does routine pregnancy tests. She is sure she’ll be fired if caught and is desperate to keep the secret hidden. Like Marielitos in Comadre, Inés leans on her coworker, Bety, and asks her to provide some urine for their upcoming medical test. At first, Bety refuses. She has her own family to provide for and can’t afford to be fired. Her own self-interest is at the forefront of her mind. Yet, Inés can’t count on anyone else. The cinematography exemplifies Inés’ solitude with wide shots, causing her to look small and helpless. The factory job, whirring with machines and overlooked by scary men in suits, is anything but natural. Is it any wonder that Inés eventually loses the baby, so full of worry and stress from the demanding job? Even with Bety’s altruistic action of sneaking Inés a urine sample, Inés’ time worrying over the test affects her pregnancy as blood runs down her leg. Yet, she doesn’t stop working, because a woman’s nature is to continue on. Like the women in Mujeres del Alba, it is unthinkable to give in to the societal pressure that surrounds them. They march forward despite the turmoil.
In Así Dicen directed by Natalia Luque, a small Chilean town is abuzz after the news of an aborted fetus found in a nearby lake. The scenic imagery of the volcano in the distance evokes a pregnancy, an impending blast. The naturalism and conversation surrounding the volcano mirror the experience of the young woman. Plumes of smoke emerge from it after the abortion and people wonder if it’s nature’s response. A local lingerie shop is at the center of the gossip as the fetus was found wrapped in one of their bags. The shop’s owner brings her child to the shop and women flock to the stroller, cooing at it and its cuteness. Subtle or not, the women’s reaction to a new child shows that it’s natural to celebrate a birth and the shopkeeper’s choice as a woman. And yet, for a woman to have aborted her child in the river, the action is seen as abhorrent and unthinkable. One of the store clerks, Patty, contemplates her own morals as she helps out the young woman who is now being shamed by the rest of the town. A true act of solidarity is when Patty bumps into the young girl she helped at the start. She takes a seat on the bus and bleeds on the seat, quickly getting off the bus. Patty takes her seat, covering the blood without hesitation. In spite of the overwhelming negative, her nature is to protect her fellow woman. Water and the river are clear symbols, as we see the young girl swim in the lake, free and at peace.
All in all, the nature of women, and the idea of women and nature coinciding, mingling, and conspiring come together in similar and distinctive ways in these films, all directed by women. The stories occupy different time periods and include women of varying social and political backgrounds. Yet, within each narrative, is the indistinguishable idea that women and nature are inextricably linked. Whether it is our natural inclination to tend to each other in times of need, putting our all into survival, or protecting our fellow women, these films are nuances and beautiful depictions of women’s stories.