The HBO series Girls is about four women in their mid-20s, except for younger Shoshanna who is still in college. She was a virgin at the start of the show, but announced in season three that she was going to spend half her time on her university studies and half hooking up with strangers. Her friends commented, “Not to judge her sex life because we’re feminists and don’t judge sex lives but. . . does that seem unhealthy? I mean, does she not seem very unhappy?” It seems like many Fourth Wave feminist concerns revolve around sexual issues and appearance. The Girls aren’t active politically and don’t discuss sexism, with a lot of traditional focus on boyfriends, although Lena Dunham says she is a feminist. The tone is her 2014 book of essays is sometimes juvenile. In Not That Kind of Girl, Dunham describes herself, at age 28, as “a girl with a keen interest in having it all.” She concludes with the common sense advice “don’t put yourself in situations you’d like to run away from.” If you have to run, “run back to yourself, like the bunny in Runaway Bunny runs to its mother, but you are the mother, and you’ll see that later and be very, very proud.” Her book deal with Random House gave her $3.5 million and TIME Magazine selected her as one of the 100 most influential people of 2014.
Hannah is like her disowned or shadow self, to use Jungian terminology, including both having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and trying too hard to please boyfriends to compensate for not having a model’s body. Dunham told radio host Terry Gross that it’s fun to play Hanna because, “She’s such a jerk; she lacks a filter to deal with the world, fires off and just can’t stop.” Dunham struggled with fears of her own about blurting out words she would regret, almost like Tourette’s Syndrome. Another troubled free spirit is the Girls character Jessa. Dunham reported many girls want to be Jessa although, “There’s a pathology behind it. She’s a wounded disassociated person. I think she wants to do good, but her desire to test the boundaries is more powerful.” In the third season, Jessa was arrested for urinated in the street and tearing up the ticket police handed her. A British writer, Catherine Scott asked, “What’s there to celebrate for feminism when a show depicts four entirely self-interested young women and a lead character having the most depressing, disempowered sexual relationships imaginable?”[i]
Dunham defines feminism as equality and equal opportunity and supporting other women to be “strong in the face of societal factors telling us to shut up.” She bemoans the fact that many young women are misinformed, thinking feminism is about not shaving armpits, bra burning and man hating. Dunham was influenced by her mother who is part of a women photographers’ group, and also by Nora Ephron and Gloria Steinem although she hasn’t met her.
[i]Catherine Scott, “’Girls’ is Not Diverse, Not Feminist and Not Empowering,” The Independent, October 24, 2012.
For more information, contact:
Laura Olah, Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB), WI (608)643-3124
Brian A. Salvatore, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry, Louisiana State University-Shreveport, LA (318)797-5224
Dolores Blalock, ArkLaTex Clean Air Network, LA (318)583-0254
Opposition to Camp Minden Burn Gains National Support
A broad coalition of 71 social and environmental justice organizations from across the U.S. is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop the proposed open air burning of 15 million pounds of abandoned M6 propellants at Camp Minden, Louisiana. In a joint letter today to EPA Assistant Administrator Cynthia Giles, the groups support Louisiana residents, workers and families in their call for a safer alternative to possibly the largest open munitions burn in the nation’s history.
“By definition, open burning has no emissions controls and will result in the uncontrolled release of toxic emissions and respirable particulates to the environment,” the coalition’s letter says. “M6 contains approximately 10 percent dinitrotoluene (DNT) which is classified as a probable human carcinogen.”
“Three of the volatile organic compounds in M6 propellant are environmental poisons, which could be dispersed throughout the region on particulate matter in the atmosphere. No one has ever provided any data showing that an open burn of M6 should have ever even been considered in the first place,” said Brian Salvatore, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry at Louisiana State University-Shreveport. “The practice has, in fact, been completely banned in Canada and in several other counties. You cannot open burn even one ounce of this propellant in Canada.”
“These three chemicals are among the most toxic in the United States and over 2,100,000 pounds of these compounds are scheduled to burn,” added Dolores Blalock, an organizer with Louisiana’s ArkLaTex Clean Air Network. “DNT is toxic if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin.”
The national coalition of groups opposing the burn was organized by Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB), a community-based group that successfully stopped open burning of waste propellants at Wisconsin’s Badger Army Ammunition Plant.
“We ended decades of open burning but unfortunately not before the practice contaminated the land and groundwater,” said Laura Olah, Executive Director of CSWAB. “It came too late for us, but it’s not too late to protect families and workers in Louisiana.”
The coalition supports the EPA’s decision compelling the military to clean up the Camp Minden site but believes the risks associated with open burning are excessive and preventable.
“While we support the EPA’s initiative to require the U.S. Army to clean up and dispose of these improperly stored explosive wastes, we do not support open burning as a remedy given the inherent and avoidable risks to human health and the environment,” the coalition wrote.
“Moreover, as the EPA’s plan provides for the safe handling and transport to an open burning area, these wastes could be similarly moved to an alternative treatment facility or system,” the groups emphasized.
Among those signing the letter to EPA are: Erin Brockovich (CA), GreenARMY (LA), Alaska Community Action on Toxics (AK), Center for Biological Diversity (CA), Chemical Weapons Working Group (KY), United Tribe of Shawnee Indians (KS), Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LA), Tribal Environmental Watch Alliance (NM) , Environmental Patriots of the New River Valley (VA), Fort Ord Environmental Justice Network (CA), Defense Depot Memphis Tennessee – Concerned Citizens Committee (TN), Southwest Workers Union (TX), Arkansas Sierra Club (AK), Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin (WI) and many more.
Piplantri. This is a small village of about 5200 people in Southern Rajasthan (Rajsamand District). People decided here to welcome a girl child and they planted 111 trees whenever a girl was born in the village. Due to this innovative practice, the villagers have planted close to 2.5 lakh trees so far. The villagers plant 11 trees whenever a person dies in this village. They not only plant a new tree, they also nurture and support the planted trees. The villagers have also grown aloevera around those trees to protect them. This has helped them in employment generation also. Not only this, they also collect Rs. 21,000 and add Rs. 10,000 from the father of the girl and deposit this Rs. 31,000 in the bank in the account of the girl with a maturity covenant of 20 years. They also take an undertaking from the father of the girl that the girl will not be married pre-mature. They have framed their own systems and own set of regulations, which are accepted, followed and practised more religiously than the law of the land. Their regulations have benefitted themselves and have enabled them to transform their village beyond ordinary levels.
People of this village have collectively evolved many such practices which make this village the best village to visit. This village has also won many awards like the Adarsh Village award, Nirmal Gram award etc. This is the village which has emerged as the model village. This village has proved that the collective spirit of the people can convert any village into a heaven and this spirit must be recognized and respected.
Among the greenist cities to study as models of green energy, farmers’ markets, and bike paths are Vancouver (British Columbia), Portland, San Francisco, New York, Curitiba (Brazil), Bogota, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Malmo, Berlin, Frieburg (Germany), Feykjavik, Singapore, Adelaide, and Cape Town.[i]
Inspired by Tunisian and Egyptian youth, the February 20th, 2011, movement in Morocco was initiated by Amina Boughalbi, a 20-year-old journalism student, in a role similar to Asmaa Mahfouz’ call for protest in Tahrir Square in Egypt the previous month. Boughalbi said, “I am Moroccan and I will march on February 20th because I want freedom and equality for all Moroccans.”[i] Boughalbi also spoke at the first press conference organized by the movement and at a conference in Paris. Young women and men alternated telling their reasons for marching on YouTube and shared leadership positions. Several thousand people responded to their call in more than 60 cities. A 19-year-od science student, Tahani Madad, presented the movement’s plan at a conference in February. She defined the February 20th movement as a “youth dynamic” that is peaceful, not affiliated with political parties or religion in a post-Islamist era that regards belief as an individual matter, “secular, modernist, democratic” aiming for quality and social justice. They use consensus decision-making and make sure both women and men lead demonstrations and moderate the general assemblies. They followed up with weekly protests around the country, demanding a new constitution without the king as ruler, free education, housing, jobs, etc.
The youth movement was supported by National Council of Support including labor unions, human rights organizations, leftist parties, etc. Organizations select three members to represent them on the Council; at least one must be a woman. The Council includes many women but not feminist organizations. Feminists pressed for a 10% quota for women represented in Parliament and the 2004 Code of the Family that increased gender equality, but were reluctant to oppose the King in 2011. However, local women in rural and poor urban areas were inspired to lead protest movements—for example, against privatization of water, as shown on YouTube.
In response to the movement, King Mohamed VI proposed constitutional reforms approved in a referendum in July. It required the King to appoint a prime minister from the largest party in Parliament. February 20th called for a boycott of the referendum and overthrow of the monarchy while reformist feminist groups backed it. Elections were held in November bringing Islamists to power with only 60 women representatives and 345 men. The King retained power but precedent was established to criticize him and the government as when they organized a “kiss-in” outside Parliament in 2013 to protest the arrest of two boys, age 15, and a girl, 14, who posed on Facebook a photo of them kissing. Although rapper Lhaqed supported the movement and was jailed for a year in 2012 for defaming the police in his songs, he continues to be outspoken. He said, “The only change after February 20 is that the citizens today talk openly about other things, they protest in the slums, whole neighborhoods take to the streets. But as for those who rule the country, there’s been no change at all in my view. We have no independent judiciary, no free press, corruption remains rife and the country’s money is stolen.” [ii]A young leader in the movement, journalist Hamza Mahfoud said problems in other Arab Spring countries, like the army’s takeover in Egypt, discouraged many Moroccans from advocating change.
[i] Zakia Salime, “A New Feminism? Gender Dynamics in Morocco’s February 20th Movement,” Journal of International Women’s Studies, Vol. 13, No. 5, October 2011.
[ii] Simon Martelli and Hicham Rafih, “Arab Spring Turmoil Mutes morocco Protest Movement,” Agence France-Presse, February 20, 2014.