Ecofeminism

French feminist Françoise d’Eaubonne coined the term “ecofeminism” in 1974 for a new branch of feminism that focused on ecology, the study of the interactions between organisms and their environment. It holds that the domination and degradation of nature and the exploitation and oppression of women have significant connections.

Several environmental disasters in the US—most notably the 1979 near meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania—brought 600 women together in 1980 for “Women and Life on Earth,” the first ecofeminist conference. Held in Massachusetts during the spring equinox, the conference explored the links between feminism, militarization, healing, and ecology. Ecofeminism was defined as a “women-identified movement” that sees Earth’s devastation and the threat of nuclear annihilation as feminist concerns because they are underpinned by the same “masculinist mentality” that oppresses women. Ecofeminism holds that women have a special role to play in protecting the environment and campaigning against damage to the planet.

As ecofeminism developed, it began to splinter into different approaches, one of which is sometimes described as cultural ecofeminism. This strand is rooted in spirituality, goddess worship, and nature-based religions. Its adherents, including American writer and activist Starhawk (Miriam Simos), argue that women have an intrinsic kinship with the natural environment, and, as instinctive carers, should be at the forefront of its protection. Other feminists criticize this approach for reinforcing gender stereotypes, claiming women’s moral superiority, and taking little account of class, race, or the economic exploitation of resources.

Sources: The Feminism Book (DK)

Huda Sha’arawi

Often described as Egypt’s first feminist, Huda al-Sharaawi was born into a privileged family in Cairo in 1879. She was married by the age of 13, yet managed to further her studies and travel during a temporary separation from her husband.

Sharaawi later joined her husband as an anticolonial activist. After going to Europe in 1914, she returned to Egypt to mobilize women against British rule. In 1923, she founded the Egyptian Feminist Union.
After her husband’s death, Sharaawi famously removed her face veil (but not her head scarf) for the first time in public at the International Woman Suffrage Alliance of 1923 in Rome.

Sharaawi also wrote poetry, and in 1925 began publishing a journal called L’Egyptienne (The Egyptian Woman). She died from a heart attack in 1947.

Key works:

Harem Years: The Memoirs of an Egyptian Feminist (1879–1924)

Car Wars

Drive Offensively! Car Wars is a game featuring freeways of the future in which the right of way goes to those with the biggest guns. Players choose their vehicle — complete with weapons, armor, power plants, suspension, and even body style — then they take them out on the road, either to come home as “aces” or to crash and burn. If a driver survives, his abilities improve and he can earn money to buy bigger and better cars. Advanced rules let players design their own customized cars, trucks, and cycles.

Playing time 30 minutes and up, for players 10 and older. Any number can play . . . games with 2 to 8 are best.

Game components include:

  • 103 full-color die-cut game counters, storage bag, and Turning Key.
  • 64-page rulebook, plus extra tables and record sheets.
  • 2-sided game map, with autoduel arena and raceway.
  • Four 6-sided dice.

Awards:

  • 1981 Charles S. Roberts Best Science-Fiction Board Game Winner
  • 1981 Charles S. Roberts Best Science-Fiction Board Game Nominee

Break On Through (To the Other Side) – The Doors

You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day
Tried to run
Tried to hide
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side

We chased our pleasures here
Dug our treasures there
Can you still recall
The time we cried?
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side

Everybody loves my baby
Everybody loves my baby

She get high, she get high
She get high, she get high

I found an island in your arms
A country in your eyes
Arms that chain
Eyes that lied
Break on through to the other side

Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side

Made the scene from week to week
Day to day, hour to hour
The gate is straight
Deep and wide
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side
Break on through, break on through
Break on through, break on through

Box of Rain – Grateful Dead

First performance: October 9, 1972, at the Winterland Arena in San Francisco. Disappeared from the repertoire less than a year later, brought back on March 20, 1986, at the Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia. It remained in the repertoire thereafter—often sung in response to the chant “We Want Phil,” from Deadheads—and was the final song ever performed by the Grateful Dead, on July 9, 1995, at Soldier Field in Chicago, given as a second encore, following “Black Muddy River.”

Words by Robert Hunter
Music by Phil Lesh

Look out of any window
Any morning, any evening, any day
Maybe the sun is shining
Birds are winging, no rain is falling from a heavy sky
What do you want me to do
To do for you to see you through?
For this is all a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago

Walk out of any doorway
Feel your way like the day before
Maybe you’ll find direction
Around some corner where it’s been waiting to meet you
What do you want me to do
To watch for you while you’re sleeping?
Then please don’t be surprised when you find me dreaming too

Look into any eyes
You find by you; you can see clear to another day
Maybe been seen before
Through other eyes on other days while going home
What do you want me to do
To do for you to see you through?
It’s all a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago

Walk into splintered sunlight
Inch your way through dead dreams to another land
Maybe you’re tired and broken
Your tongue is twisted with words half spoken and thoughts unclear
What do you want me to do
To do for you, to see you through?
A box of rain will ease the pain and love will see you through

Just a box of rain, wind and water
Believe it if you need it, if you don’t just pass it on
Sun and shower, wind and rain
In and out the window like a moth before a flame

And it’s just a box of rain, I don’t know who put it there
Believe it if you need it or leave it if you dare
And it’s just a box of rain, or a ribbon for your hair
Such a long, long time to be gone and a short time to be there

Counterculture and Drug Use

Drug use is the contentious issue that lurks in any discussion of contemporary counterculture. What surprises here, perhaps, is the extent to which drug use prior to the twentieth century is not central to this exploration. Still, mind-affecting plants and chemicals do pop up across countercultural history.

In counterculture since the beats, so-called hard drugs—stimulants and narcotics like speed, heroin, and cocaine—have occasionally fostered fruitful creative frenzy or provided a context for narratives of hilarious morbidity and artful gloom. These drugs have been used with enjoyment and apparent impunity by some. But because of the syndromes of dissolution so often connected with their long-term use, such substances have generally undermined the project of embodying the countercultural impulse in effective action and sustainable modes of living. Counterculture by definition strives toward freedom, while drug addiction is a kind of slavery. In this sense, addictive drug use can ultimately be assessed as anathema to counterculture despite its widespread presence in recent countercultural episodes.

There is a vast history regarding the use of psychedelic (mind-manifesting) plants like psilocybin, peyote, and marijuana to obtain spiritual and religious visions and shamanic healing powers, allowing individuals and groups access to the numinous realm without the intercession of any religious authority.

Altered states of consciousness can sometimes help people conceive alternative truths or open them up to multiple perspectives. In High Frontiers magazine, Bruce Eisner and Peter Stafford described the use of various mind-altering drugs as being “like changing the perceptual filters on your camera to give you a variety of pictures of reality.” Psychedelics like LSD, mescaline, and later Ecstasy, while certainly presenting some hazards, have fueled the countercultural drive by illuminating utopian visions, inspiring artistic departures, and exposing consensus reality. Even the dark side of the psychedelic experience has made its contribution, infusing the desire for radical change with electric urgency by rendering the horrors of modern life in the vivid, pulsing close-up images of a trip focused on harsh negative realities.

Within these contexts, the use of certain psychedelics, is presumed to be understood as an indicator of a particularly unrestrained example of counterculturalness. At the same time, this is not always the case for all individuals and cultures, historically or currently. Even the relatively drug-saturated countercultures of recent decades have given place to counterculturalists who had nothing to do with drugs.

At its best—again mostly, but not exclusively, with the psychedelics— counterculture drug exploration goes beyond the usual chemical quest for recreation, relief, or oblivion. Instead, it becomes a manifestation of counterculture’s great perennial embrace of new ideas, technologies, experiences, and modes of being. It is from this context that works like Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, Daniel Pinchbeck’s Breaking Open the Head.

Sources: Counterculture Through the Ages

International Women’s Day Origins

Celebrated annually on March 8, International Women’s Day is traced back to the US in 1907, when more than 15,000 female textile workers marched through New York City, demanding better working conditions and voting rights. In 1909, the Socialist Party of America declared a National Women’s Day, celebrated until 1913 on the last Sunday of February.

In 1910, about 100 women from 17 countries attended the Second International Conference of Women in Copenhagen, Denmark, at which Clara Zetkin proposed the establishment of International Women’s Day, on which women would highlight women’s issues. The following year, more than one million women and men attended International Women’s Day rallies worldwide. In Russia in 1917, women marked the day with a four-day strike for “peace and bread” that was a key event in the lead up to Russia’s October Revolution that year.

Sources: The Feminism Book (DK)

Mary Wollstonecraft: Emancipation From Domesticity

In 1792, with the publication of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft fired a powerful early salvo in the battle for female emancipation from domesticity. She wrote her feminist polemic in response to 18th-century Enlightenment thinkers, such as the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who did not extend their ideas of liberalism to women. She criticizes the injustice and inconsistency of such men calling for freedom yet still subjugating women. She also rejects the contemporary perception that women were less rational.

“Who made man the exclusive judge?” she demands. Women, she writes, might be weaker physically, but are just as capable of rational thought as men.

Wollstonecraft maintains that women remained inferior because they were kept in the domestic sphere, forced to be men’s “toys and playthings.” Society taught them that looks, male opinion, and marriage were more important than intellectual and personal fulfilment. Sculpted by a gender stereotype that their mothers reinforced, girls were brought up to exploit their looks in order to find a man who would support and protect them.

Wollstonecraft was the first feminist to describe “marriage for support” as a form of prostitution— a shocking assertion for the time. A lack of means often compelled women to marry. Degraded by their dependency on male approval, they effectively became men’s slaves. She felt that such a restricted life, limited by domestic trivia, could also wreak psychological damage.

To restore women’s dignity, Wollstonecraft recommends “a revolution in female manners.” She believed women and men should be educated equally, even suggesting a coeducational system. Women, she believed, should be in the public sphere and should be trained for work outside the home, in areas such as medicine, midwifery, and business. She urges an end to the social distinction between the sexes and calls for equal rights for women to enable them to take control of their lives.
Mixed reactions

Vindication was well received, particularly in intellectual circles. A hostile press, however, described Wollstonecraft as a “hyena in petticoats” for both her book and her unorthodox lifestyle. The book was not reprinted until the mid-19th century, when it was admired by figures such as British suffragist Millicent Fawcett and American activist Lucretia Mott. Wollstonecraft’s advanced ideas would be echoed in the works of feminists from Barbara Bodichon to Simone de Beauvoir”

Sources: The Feminism Book (DK)

Pictures Of You – The Cure

The song was written in response to Robert Smith’s nostalgia, when he found a photo of his wife after a fire at his house. That photo was used for the cover of the song’s single.

Robert Smith explained this track in a 1989 interview with Music Box TV, “The idea you hold of someone isn’t really what that person is like. Sometimes you completely lose touch with what a person has turned into. You just want to hold onto what they were.”

I’ve been looking so long at these pictures of you
That I almost believe that they’re real
I’ve been living so long with my pictures of you
That I almost believe that the pictures are
All I can feel

Remembering you
Standing quiet in the rain
As I ran to your heart to be near
And we kissed as the sky fell in
Holding you close
How I always held close in your fear
Remembering you
Running soft through the night
You were bigger and brighter and wider than snow
And screamed at the make-believe
Screamed at the sky
And you finally found all your courage
To let it all go

Remembering you
Fallen into my arms
Crying for the death of your heart
You were stone white
So delicate
Lost in the cold
You were always so lost in the dark
Remembering you
How you used to be
Slow drowned
You were angels
So much more than everything
Hold for the last time then slip away quietly
Open my eyes
But I never see anything

If only I’d thought of the right words
I could have held on to your heart
If only I’d thought of the right words
I wouldn’t be breaking apart
All my pictures of you

Looking so long at these pictures of you
But I never hold on to your heart
Looking so long for the words to be true
But always just breaking apart
My pictures of you

There was nothing in the world
That I ever wanted more
Than to feel you deep in my heart
There was nothing in the world
That I ever wanted more
Than to never feel the breaking apart
All my pictures of you