WBEZ | Girls http://www.wbez.org/tags/girls Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Could a nail art printer be girls' gateway to the tech world? http://www.wbez.org/news/science/could-nail-art-printer-be-girls-gateway-tech-world-113728 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/5031941016_3c15375f92_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res454057286" previewtitle="The co-founder of Preemadonna, maker of the Nailbot, hopes the nail-art printing device will help attract girls to tech."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="The co-founder of Preemadonna, maker of the Nailbot, hopes the nail-art printing device will help attract girls to tech." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/02/nailbot_product_1_wide-2a6de315d988123f2ab3e665fb87e9648889319c-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="The co-founder of Preemadonna, maker of the Nailbot, hopes the nail-art printing device will help attract girls to tech. (Courtesy of Preemadonna)" /></div><div><div><p>With all the talk about getting more women in technology, I&#39;m always looking for female-run companies. Recently, I got an email from Preemadonna, which bills itself as a San Francisco-based company that focuses on using technology to provide lifestyle products for women and girls.</p></div></div></div><p>That sounded good. Then, I looked at the product.</p><p>It&#39;s called the Nailbot. And its premise is to&nbsp;<a href="http://techcrunch.com/2015/09/22/preemadonna-turns-your-smartphone-into-a-nail-salon/">instantly print art</a>&nbsp;onto your fingernails using your smartphone.</p><p>Is this the cutting edge of women-centered technological innovation?</p><p>I asked CEO and Co-founder&nbsp;<a href="http://www.preemadonna.com/inventors" target="_blank">Pree Walia</a>, and the way she laid it out, it was like the Nailbot was a gateway drug for girls to the world of technology:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.preemadonna.com/home">Preemadonna</a>&nbsp;is trying to meet many young girls in a place where they can express themselves and have fun.</p><p>&quot;It is a beauty tool, but for young girls it&#39;s a learning tool,&quot; Walia says.</p><p>Walia says when they see the Nailbot, which will sell for about $199, both girls and boys want to know more about the technology behind it. And Preemadonna is pitching it as both a beauty device and a sort of arts and crafts tool.</p><div id="con454914957" previewtitle="Related"><div id="res454914941">&quot;Girls can design their own Nailbot art,&quot; Walia says. &quot;It&#39;s really a mobile platform for art with uses well beyond fingernails.&quot;</div></div><p>Nail art may actually be a smart place to start from a business perspective. According to Mintel, which does research on the &quot;beauty market,&quot; 92 percent of girls between 9 and 17 years old use some kind of nail product, making nails the most popular cosmetic item among teen girls.</p><p>The two women who founded Preemadonna came at it with credentials in both business and tech. Walia has an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and spent several years working in startups that focused on LED lighting and building automation. Co-founder Casey Schulz has degrees in mechanical engineering and has worked at NASA Ames and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.</p><p>Still, there&#39;s a part of me that wants women in the startup world to focus on something heavier &mdash; a new method for detecting breast cancer, a better way to report assaults. But maybe this is as good a start as any. After all, a lot of boys get drawn to technology by playing shoot &#39;em up video games, and Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook on top of a site he had originally set up to rate who was hot and who was not on the Harvard campus.</p><p>Preemadonna has raised $400,000 from investors, according to Walia. And the first investment came from college pal Diane Donald, wife of golf champion Luke Donald.</p><p>The CEO says a lot of male venture capitalists have looked at her and said, &quot;Is this just a fad, Pree?&quot; It might be, but so are numerous startup ideas pitched by men. And maybe there&#39;s a chance that this one gets a few more young girls interested in tech.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t go around in a hoodie,&quot; Walia says. &quot;I have a dress and I have high heels and I own it.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/11/08/453290268/could-a-nail-art-printer-be-girls-gateway-to-the-tech-world?ft=nprml&amp;f=453290268" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 10 Nov 2015 13:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/could-nail-art-printer-be-girls-gateway-tech-world-113728 For some teen girls, surviving a rape can mean losing an education http://www.wbez.org/news/some-teen-girls-surviving-rape-can-mean-losing-education-113698 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/npr_4_3_15_slteens-73f5e54fe48c3617f3dd3844c55e5957a61141d3-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res455034458" previewtitle="Maria Fabrizio for NPR"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Maria Fabrizio for NPR" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/06/npr_4_3_15_slteens-73f5e54fe48c3617f3dd3844c55e5957a61141d3-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="(Maria Fabrizio for NPR)" /></div><div><div>Last spring, with the Ebola outbreak under control, students in Sierra Leone returned to school after a months-long hiatus. But absent from the classrooms were several thousand adolescent girls. A law that went into effect in April bars &quot;visibly pregnant&quot; students from school.</div></div></div><p>The consequences of this new law have been heartbreaking, says Esther Major, who researches economic, social and cultural rights at Amnesty International. &quot;A 12-year-old girl I interviewed was five months pregnant. She was raped &mdash; and my heart broke,&quot; Major recalls. &quot;And she told me of her hopes and dreams to help people in the future but now she feels she won&#39;t be able to do that.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>Major co-authored&nbsp;<a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/afr51/2695/2015/en/">a report</a>&nbsp;Amnesty published this Friday titled&nbsp;<em>Shamed and Blamed: Pregnant girls&#39; rights at risk in Sierra Leone</em>.&nbsp;We asked her to tell us more about the law and its effects.</p><p>The interview has been edited for length and clarity.</p><hr /><p><strong>Why is Sierra Leone banning pregnant students?</strong></p><p>This official ban occurred in April, but we know that the practice had gone on informally for a long time.</p><p>Moijueh Kaikai, the minister of social welfare, told us that he could not have pregnant girls with normal girls because it&#39;ll encourage other girls in the class to get pregnant. He said, &quot;During the Ebola outbreak children were given clear instructions: Do not touch... These girls could not even comply with basic rules and there must be consequences for their actions.&quot;</p><div id="res455034500"><div><strong>RELATED:&nbsp;<a data-metrics="{&quot;category&quot;:&quot;Story to Story&quot;,&quot;action&quot;:&quot;Click Internal Link&quot;,&quot;label&quot;:&quot;http:\/\/www.npr.org\/sections\/goatsandsoda\/2015\/04\/06\/397272538\/visibly-pregnant-girls-are-banned-from-school-in-sierra-leone&quot;}" href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/04/06/397272538/visibly-pregnant-girls-are-banned-from-school-in-sierra-leone">&#39;Visibly Pregnant&#39; Girls Are Banned From School In Sierra Leone</a></strong></div></div><p>This language is deeply concerning. There is among many the idea that the girls have &quot;chosen&quot; pregnancy and should be punished as a result. But many of these girls are either victims of sexual violence or they didn&#39;t have the information or the health services to avoid early pregnancy. And even if they did choose to become pregnant, they should not have the right for an education taken away from them.</p><p><strong>Can these girls go back to school once they&#39;ve had the baby?</strong></p><p>Because they don&#39;t have the support and finances to have child care, the likelihood of their returning to school after giving birth is very, very slim.</p><p>Girls talked to us about their desire to contribute to their country and how they wanted to be nurses, doctors and lawyers, and would love to go to school if given the chance to do so. In particular one girl said how humiliated she felt when she found out she was pregnant and her school bag and books were given to her younger sister.</p><p><strong>Pregnant girls are also banned from taking national exams coming up this month, right?</strong></p><p>Yes. These two sets of exams on Nov. 23 are crucial. One set determines who can go on to senior high school. And the other set is for graduating seniors, in rough American terms similar to a high school diploma.</p><p>Some girls in desperation inevitably are going to try to hide their pregnancy in order to be able to sit these crucial exams. In our interviews, we heard that girls were strapping their stomachs down in order to pass for non-pregnant in order to be able to sit the exams.</p><p><strong>So &quot;visibly pregnant&quot; students are banned. But do schools actually check to see if girls are pregnant?</strong></p><p>We spoke to girls who had their breasts and stomachs touched and some were being forced to give urine tests.</p><p><strong>Your report recommends that pregnant girls should be allowed back in school and allowed to take exams. What else do you and your colleagues recommend?</strong></p><p>Schools should be prohibited from the treating girls in this degrading way to ascertain their pregnancy status.</p><p>One of the girls said to us, &quot;Instead of banning us from school, why didn&#39;t they give us sex education?&quot;</p><p>Instead of punishing the girls they should be punishing rapists. And giving the girls the information, health services and support they need to go forward.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/11/09/455012815/for-some-teen-girls-surviving-a-rape-can-mean-losing-an-education?ft=nprml&amp;f=455012815" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 09 Nov 2015 12:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/some-teen-girls-surviving-rape-can-mean-losing-education-113698 Can't afford school? Girls learn to negotiate the Harvard way: #15Girls http://www.wbez.org/news/cant-afford-school-girls-learn-negotiate-harvard-way-15girls-113240 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Now in tenth grade, Mulando is already planning how to negotiate her tuition for 11th grade. She&#039;s also trying to figure out how to get to medical school..jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res446322603"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Madalitso Mulando studies at the Chinika Secondary School in Lusaka, Zambia. By fifth grade, the school dropout rate is three times higher for girls than for boys." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/06/zambia-4_custom-077cecb0aaa29cfa3124f09f995f0219cddb455e-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 399px; width: 600px;" title="Madalitso Mulando studies at the Chinika Secondary School in Lusaka, Zambia. By fifth grade, the school dropout rate is three times higher for girls than for boys. (Samantha Reinders for NPR)" /></div><div><p>Madalitso Mulando knew what she needed to finish 10th grade: $150.</p></div></div><p>That&#39;s the cost of tuition at Chinika Secondary School, a public high school in Lusaka, Zambia. Completing 10th grade was part of Mulando&#39;s dream to go to medical school and become a doctor.</p><p>But the 15-year-old&#39;s parents were broke.</p><p>&quot;Yeah, I was alone. I was in my bedroom ... and I started, like, crying because Mom and Dad didn&#39;t have any money,&quot; she remembers. &quot;And I was like, maybe I&#39;ll never go to school again because Mom and Dad didn&#39;t have any money.&quot;</p><p>Zambia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Mulando shares her room with her sister and two nieces &mdash; and a stack of dog-eared textbooks.</p><p>&quot;I like biology,&quot; she says, laughing.</p><div id="res446322759"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Madalitso Mulando brushes off her shoes before heading to school in Lusaka, Zambia. Last year, she missed a whole semester while her parents struggled to scrape together tuition." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/06/zambia-2_custom-005abbe76c82a6dc1c1b7f65b9b9dc29c8a21942-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 399px; width: 600px;" title="Madalitso Mulando brushes off her shoes before heading to school in Lusaka, Zambia. Last year, she missed a whole semester while her parents struggled to scrape together tuition. (Samantha Reinders for NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>For most Zambian schoolgirls, that&#39;s where their education might have ended. Most Zambian families live below the poverty line. Most Zambian schoolkids, especially girls, never make it to 10th grade because their families can&#39;t afford it.</p></div></div></div><p>One might see this as an unchangeable fact of poverty.</p><p>But Kathleen McGinn, a professor of negotiation at Harvard Business School, sees it as a communication deficit. She says Zambian schoolgirls have to advocate for their interests in a way that American high-schoolers rarely need to.</p><p>&quot;In the U.S., it&#39;s illegal to take your kid out of school,&quot; says McGinn. &quot;In Zambia, you have to pay to keep your kid in school.&quot;</p><p>Some programs have tried to remedy this by offering cash grants and other incentives to schoolgirls, but the well-intentioned money always runs out. So, McGinn and her colleagues Nava Ashraf and Corinne Low wondered: Could Zambian schoolgirls stay in school if they received training in negotiation &mdash; a version of the same training given to Harvard MBAs, undergrads and executives? Could techniques honed around an oak boardroom table apply in a slum in southern Africa?</p><p>With the help of the Zambian Ministry of Education and the New Haven-based Innovations for Poverty Action, a research nonprofit, they&#39;re hoping to find out. They wrote a curriculum to teach Zambian high school students the art of getting to &quot;yes.&quot; It&#39;s part of a multiyear research study to see if a week of negotiation training can&nbsp;<a href="http://www.poverty-action.org/study/negotiating-better-future-impact-teaching-negotiation-skills-girls-health-and-educational">help Zambian schoolgirls stay in school</a>&nbsp;and avoid getting pregnant.</p><p><img alt="After a weeklong course in negotiation training, Mulando petitioned relatives to cover her school fees by convincing them that her education was worth investing in." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/06/zambia-3_custom-c686cadd60ae88ddd06c7477375644acf950856d-s300-c85.jpg" style="float: right; height: 413px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="After a weeklong course in negotiation training, Mulando petitioned relatives to cover her school fees by convincing them that her education was worth investing in. (Gregory Warner/NPR)" /></p><p>Earlier this year, we visited a high school in Lusaka, where coach Jean Mwape was leading a discussion with 50 teenage girls crowded into a tiny classroom. The students volunteered for this weeklong negotiation course taught by local university grads.</p><div id="res446322673"><div><div><p>At times, the language sounded like it was ripped from an arbitration manual, which, of course, much of it was.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;Finding out the other person&#39;s interests helps you think of solutions to meet both your interests and theirs,&quot; Mwape says. &quot;OK?&quot;</p><p>The girls were brainstorming ideas on how to ask open-ended questions to figure out what their parents really want &mdash; and how to speak more effectively with them.</p><p>&quot;How can we become better negotiators?&quot; Mwape asks.</p><p>&quot;Practicing!&quot; the students reply.</p><p>Madalitso Mulando took this course two years ago when it was first offered. She found it so useful, she&#39;s back for a refresher, even though it means walking an hour each way from her house in Kanyama slum, past mangy chickens and mobile phone shops on flooded, muddy roads.</p><p>Mulando hops from stone to stone across the huge puddles.</p><div id="res446322499"><div><div><p>She opens a metal gate, slips off her plastic shoes, and she&#39;s home.</p></div></div></div><p>Her house is tidy and spare. The only decorations on the walls are her parents&#39; graduation photos.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Mulando fetches water from a tap a short walk from her home. Most Zambian schoolgirls have to advocate for their interests in a way that American high schoolers rarely need to, says Kathleen McGinn, a professor of negotiation at Harvard Business School." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/06/zambia-5_custom-a6829c700fe35c3e6533047f66895ae7688fb324-s600-c85.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 399px; width: 600px;" title="Mulando fetches water from a tap a short walk from her home. Most Zambian schoolgirls have to advocate for their interests in a way that American high schoolers rarely need to, says Kathleen McGinn, a professor of negotiation at Harvard Business School. (Samantha Reinders for NPR)" /></p><p>Mulando&#39;s parents care deeply about education. Her older brother and sister went to college, but her mom&#39;s grocery stand closed two years ago. Her father&#39;s hardware store is failing. And, so, one night this January her parents had to tell her they couldn&#39;t afford to pay her $150 yearly tuition.</p><p>This wasn&#39;t the first time this had happened to her. In ninth grade, she missed a whole term while her parents struggled to scrape together tuition. But this time around, Mulando vowed to use her new negotiation skills to do some fundraising with her extended family.</p><div id="res446322448"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Mulando lives at home, in Lusaka's Kanyama slum, with her extended family." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/06/zambia-6_custom-68f0b897a593d52f66d6de7a9ad856b196055c4f-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 300px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Mulando lives at home, in Lusaka's Kanyama slum, with her extended family. (Samantha Reinders for NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>&quot;I learned a lot in negotiation,&quot; she says. &quot;If you want to ask something, you need to tell them what you want.&quot;</p></div></div></div><p>If she were going to cold-call her relatives, she&#39;d have to be crystal clear about her intention to finish school. Because most schoolgirls do drop out, she would have to prove that she wouldn&#39;t end up just another statistic: that she was worth investing in. She took some deep breaths, as she&#39;d learned in the training, and asked to use her mom&#39;s phone.</p><p>&quot;I first called my cousin,&quot; Mulando says. &quot;I was like, &#39;I passed my grade nine, but it&#39;s kind of difficult to pay my school fees.&#39; &quot;</p><p>Her cousin was impressed enough to send her $55.</p><div id="res446322380"><div><div><p>Then, she called her older sister, who gave her nearly $70. And somehow her parents came up with the last $25.</p></div></div></div><p>But she still needed money for textbooks. So she called the person her mother least wanted her to call: her uncle, Neba Mbewe.</p><p>&quot;I should say I&#39;m in a privileged position to help others,&quot; Mbewe says.</p><p>He&#39;s the managing editor of a big Zambian newspaper. He has helped Mulando&#39;s family financially several times in the past. But he also made it clear that he won&#39;t be their piggy bank. He won&#39;t bail out his nieces and nephews for what he called her parents&#39; business mistakes.</p><p><img alt="According to the World Bank, if girls in developing countries complete high school, there's a better chance they'll earn more and their kids will go further." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/06/zambia-7_custom-bdac9a8acb08e327feac2e0af10a5ecaa6cd87d4-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="According to the World Bank, if girls in developing countries complete high school, there's a better chance they'll earn more and their kids will go further. (Samantha Reinders for NPR)" /></p><p>Mulando&#39;s mother, Dorcus Mulando, says the idea of begging from her older brother was shameful. He&#39;d refused them so many times before. So, when her daughter asked for the phone to call her uncle, Dorcus Mulando simply warned her: &quot;If he says he doesn&#39;t have [the money], don&#39;t get hate.&quot;</p><p>Don&#39;t get hate in your heart, she warned her daughter. Like most of us, she saw the situation as a fixed pie. Her brother had more, she had less. Any act of asking felt shamefully like begging.</p><p>Mulando, though, had learned to see it differently. She&#39;d learned about things like &quot;core values&quot; and &quot;aligning incentives.&quot; This 15-year-old girl didn&#39;t feel she was asking her uncle for money. She was expressing to him how much she desired to finish her education, something he has often encouraged her to do, and what she needed to achieve that goal.&nbsp;It&#39;s a subtle shift, but it made the difference.</p><div id="res446323488"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Mulando with her niece, Destiny." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/06/zambia-8_custom-367f665c651ae714246833274813be22e3e464ca-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 600px;" title="Mulando with her niece, Destiny. (Samantha Reinders for NPR)" /></div><div><p>&quot;Now that you&#39;re mentioning it, she was more focused on exactly what she wanted and how that would benefit her,&quot; her uncle recalls. &quot;The minute someone says &#39;education,&#39; that certainly hits a nerve in me.&quot;</p></div></div><p>Did she negotiate well?</p><p>&quot;Excellent,&quot; he says. &quot;She did a good job!&quot;</p><p>Mulando&#39;s uncle shelled out the $25 that she needed to buy all of her books for the year. And Mulando was able to enroll in 10th grade.</p><p>For a poor country like Zambia, these small choices matter. World Bank research shows that if girls in developing countries complete high school, there&#39;s a better chance they&#39;ll earn more and their kids will go further. The choices of teenage girls can have a socioeconomic impact across generations.</p><div id="res446322340"><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Now in tenth grade, Mulando is already planning how to negotiate her tuition for 11th grade. She's also trying to figure out how to get to medical school." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/06/zambia-1_custom-27714249e32568b6d2cf8c1568529a704876b2e7-s600-c85.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 399px; width: 600px;" title="Now in tenth grade, Mulando is already planning how to negotiate her tuition for 11th grade. She's also trying to figure out how to get to medical school. (Samantha Reinders for NPR)" /></p><p>For Mulando, making it to 10th grade is only the beginning of a long string of negotiations to come. She&#39;s already trying to come up with a plan for how to pay for 11th grade, not to mention medical school. Still, she believes she&#39;ll be a doctor one day. And by the time her niece, Chichi, is 15, eight years from now, she hopes Chichi will come calling to negotiate with her.</p></div><hr /><p><span style="font-size:20px;"><strong>About This Series</strong></span></p><p><em>In many countries, the decisions teens make at 15 can determine the rest of their lives. But, often, girls don&#39;t have much say &mdash; parents, culture and tradition decide for them. In a new series,&nbsp;#<a href="http://www.npr.org/series/446115168/-15girls?source=blog">15Girls</a>, NPR explores the lives of 15-year-old girls who are seeking to take control and change their fate.</em></p><p><span style="font-size:20px;"><strong>Share Your Story</strong></span></p><p><em>No matter where you live, being a 15-year-old girl can be tough.&nbsp;Tell us:&nbsp;<a href="http://n.pr/1LzkPNo">What was the hardest thing about being 15?</a>&nbsp;Post a photo of yourself as a teen with your answer on Twitter or Instagram, and tag your post with #15Girls and @NPR.&nbsp;<a href="http://n.pr/1LzkPNo">More details here.</a></em></p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/10/08/446237057/can-t-afford-school-girls-in-zambia-learn-to-negotiate-the-harvard-way-15girls?ft=nprml&amp;f=446237057"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 11:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cant-afford-school-girls-learn-negotiate-harvard-way-15girls-113240 The surreal reasons girls are disappearing in El Salvador: #15girls http://www.wbez.org/news/surreal-reasons-girls-are-disappearing-el-salvador-15girls-113187 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/After Aby Salas&#039; best friend disappeared, she stopped leaving her house except to go to school..jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res446006664" previewtitle="A girl looks away from the body of an assassinated man, who was killed by a gang member in San Salvador."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="A girl looks away from the body of an assassinated man, who was killed by a gang member in San Salvador." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/05/elsalvadorgirls-2_custom-5a335e07affdb26df84a4e147462a27895e68a0b-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 401px; width: 600px;" title="A girl looks away from the body of an assassinated man, who was killed by a gang member in San Salvador. (Encarni Pindado/for NPR)" /></div></div><p>In many countries, the decisions teens make at 15 can determine the rest of the lives. But, often, girls don&#39;t have much say &ndash; parents, culture and tradition decide for them. In a new series,&nbsp;#15Girls, NPR explores the lives of 15-year-old girls who are seeking to take control and change their fate.&nbsp;Warning: some of the depictions and images in this story are graphic.</p><p>It&#39;s our first morning in El Salvador&#39;s capital. We&#39;re eating breakfast and we get a call from a local reporter we know.</p><p>There&#39;s a crime scene, he says. A girl. You should come. We take a taxi to what looks like a major intersection in San Salvador. When we get there, we look around. And then we see her, slumped on a street corner.</p><div id="res446006632" previewtitle="Marcela, 15, was assassinated in San Salvador in July. She was walking with her sister when a man approached them and shot her twice in the head, killing her instantly."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Marcela, 15, was assassinated in San Salvador in July. She was walking with her sister when a man approached them and shot her twice in the head, killing her instantly." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/05/elsalvadorgirls-3_slide-0e50554dfaf64dd923afda32167d2f48a3fd1aff-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 600px;" title="Marcela, 15, was assassinated in San Salvador in July. She was walking with her sister when a man approached them and shot her twice in the head, killing her instantly. (Encarni Pindado/for NPR)" /></div><div><p>The girl is dead. She&#39;s 15 years old and her name is Marcela. Witnesses tell us she was executed by a gang member.</p></div></div><p>We can&#39;t see her face. All we can see is her plaid pants and grey t-shirt. Her family is across the street, in a pickup truck. We can&#39;t tell you their names because it would put them in danger.</p><p>Marcela&#39;s mother is too upset to talk. So, we talk to her grandmother. She says Marcela left the house that morning with her sister. The two worked in downtown San Salvador, the capitol of El Salvador, making tortillas.</p><p><img alt="Marcela's grandmother cries at the scene of her granddaughter's death." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/05/elsalvadorgirls-4_slide-aef4db9716b0a6e2828fb0f71373bdae416d517d-s300-c85.jpg" style="height: 199px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Marcela's grandmother cries at the scene of her granddaughter's death. (Encarni Pindado/for NPR)" /></p><p>The grandmother tells us that Marcela&#39;s boyfriend was a bus driver in a gang-controlled neighborhood. First, he got threats. &quot;Help the gang or we&#39;ll kill you.&quot; Then he disappeared.</p><div id="res446006464" previewtitle="Marcela's grandmother cries at the scene of her granddaughter's death."><div><p>Then Marcela started getting threats. And now this: Marcela&#39;s body, laying on the ground, while people drive to work.</p></div></div><p>If you were standing at the U.S.-Mexico border two summers ago, during the so-called &quot;surge&quot; of unaccompanied minors trying to come to the U.S., you would have seen thousands of young girls from El Salvador.</p><p>If you had asked them why they came, they would have told you the answer is simple: gangs. Back in the 1980s, during El Salvador&#39;s civil war, many people migrated from El Salvador to the U.S. On the streets of cities like Los Angeles, they formed gangs.</p><p>Then, many of them were deported back to El Salvador. And they brought the gangs with them. Now, El Salvador&#39;s two main gangs &mdash; Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 &mdash; control much of the country. There is so much violence in El Salvador that someone dies there, on average, every hour.</p><p>Much of the killing is over turf or revenge. And sometimes people are just caught in the middle. Many times, those caught in the middle are girls.</p><p>We went to El Salvador to talk to these girls, to understand why they would want to make the perilous journey to the U.S., why they would ever want to leave home.</p><p>This is the story of four of those girls. In most cases, we&#39;re not using last names; to bring any attention to them would make them a target of the gangs.</p><h3><strong>Marcela</strong></h3><p>We find the police investigator on the case. He says Marcela was attacked from behind and shot twice in the head. He says Marcela&#39;s sister witnessed the killing. She&#39;s now in police protection.</p><p><br />We find the police investigator on the case. He says Marcela was attacked from behind and shot twice in the head. He says Marcela&#39;s sister witnessed the killing. She&#39;s now in police protection.</p><p>We ask him why a gang member would kill a 15-year-old girl. He speculates that it&#39;s because she didn&#39;t want to be someone&#39;s girlfriend or didn&#39;t want to do something for that gang.</p><p>Is this normal, we ask? Does it happen to young women a lot?</p><p>It happens every day, he says.</p><p>The police later release Marcela&#39;s sister from their protection, even though local reporters tell us the gangs will probably go after her now.</p><p>The family tells us their only option is to leave the country, ideally for the U.S. But they&#39;ve got about $200 to their name. It&#39;s not nearly enough to pay a smuggler.</p><p>All this happened on our first full day in El Salvador. If this is how bad it is, how do girls live?&nbsp;<br /><br />To answer that question, we go to a school. And start interviewing 15-year-old-girls.</p><h3><strong>Aby</strong></h3><p>One girl stands out. Her name is Aby Salas &mdash; and she wants to study law. She says her favorite thing is to sit down with some hot chocolate and a book. That and go to church.</p><div id="res446006336" previewtitle="After Aby Salas' best friend disappeared, she stopped leaving her house except to go to school."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="After Aby Salas' best friend disappeared, she stopped leaving her house except to go to school." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/05/elsalvadorgirls-5_slide-f04bc535ff7437a75a68f98d415108b08057a244-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 600px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="After Aby Salas' best friend disappeared, she stopped leaving her house except to go to school. (Encarni Pindado/for NPR)" /></div></div><p>It was at church that Aby met her best friend, Jessica. Aby and Jessica used to go to school together.</p><p>Then another girl at school started threatening Jessica.</p><p>&quot;At first it was like a little game,&quot; Aby says. &quot;If you don&#39;t give me this, you&#39;ll be in trouble.&quot;</p><p>Give me that blouse, the girl would say to Jessica. Give me those jeans.</p><p>&quot;And it got to the point when she wanted help cheating on tests,&quot; Aby says. &quot;And the threat was always like, &#39;We&#39;re going to be waiting for you outside of class, to beat you up.&#39;&quot;</p><p>It might sound like pretty typical bullying. But this bully&#39;s brothers were in a gang. One day the girl asked Jessica for a pencil. Jessica only had one pencil, so she said no.</p><p>A few days later, Jessica went to the store.</p><p>&quot;Her mom says she left at 3:30 in the afternoon, and then it was 4:00, and then it was 5:00, and this was a store that was right on the corner,&quot; Aby says. &quot;And we haven&#39;t heard from her since.&quot;</p><p>And now, ever since her best friend Jessica disappeared, Aby spends all her time at home.</p><p>A few days after we meet her at the school, she shows us her room. It&#39;s about 8 x 8 ft., painted pink with cinder block walls. If she&#39;s not in school or helping with dinner, she&#39;s here.</p><div id="res446011246" previewtitle="Aby spends most of her time in her room these days. She wants to study law or work for NASA someday."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Aby spends most of her time in her room these days. She wants to study law or work for NASA someday." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/05/elsalvadorgirls-6_custom-2b69efdbf04954abed191c6a9f29b39fac07e4a0-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 267px; width: 400px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="Aby spends most of her time in her room these days. She wants to study law or work for NASA someday. (Encarni Pindado/for NPR)" /></div><div><p>And it&#39;s her choice, she says. It&#39;s basically a self-imposed lockdown. After what happened, Aby&#39;s too afraid to go out. And her parents are cool with that.</p></div></div><p>But her parents won&#39;t talk about what happened. They don&#39;t want to scare Aby&#39;s little brother and sister.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s too dangerous to talk about that,&quot; she says. &quot;If somebody hears you talk about it, something bad could happen to you.&quot;</p><p>The family of Aby&#39;s best friend, Jessica, has moved away. They&#39;re hiding from the gang. They&#39;re planning to come to the U.S.</p><p>&quot;Then I&#39;ll have nothing left of my friend, Aby says. &quot;She&#39;ll just be in my head.&quot;</p><p>After we meet Aby, we start asking people in El Salvador, &quot;Is it normal for girls to shut themselves in the house all day?&quot;</p><p>Yes, they tell us. It&#39;s the only way to stay safe from the gangs.</p><p>In other words, El Salvador is a country of girls with two main choices: hide from gangs or give in to them.</p><h3><strong>Mimi</strong></h3><p>We do find an exception to that rule.</p><p>Her name is Stephanie Noemi. Her friends call her Mimi. She&#39;s 15 years old. And instead of saying home on a Friday night, she puts on bright yellow coveralls, chants a prayer and starts the overnight shift as a volunteer ambulance worker with a group called the Commandos de Salvamento.</p><p>Mimi joined the squad when she was 10. A relative suggested she try it. Now, she says, it&#39;s the only way to get out of the house but stay out of trouble. Her neighborhood is completely controlled by gangs.</p><div id="res446005871" previewtitle="Mimi, 15, volunteers at Comandos de Salvamento. She deals with all kinds of emergencies, extreme violence and people that have been severely injured or killed by the gangs in El Salvador."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Mimi, 15, volunteers at Comandos de Salvamento. She deals with all kinds of emergencies, extreme violence and people that have been severely injured or killed by the gangs in El Salvador." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/05/elsalvadorgirls-7_slide-045beff50631af16ac7599601cd6a6b2ecc5ff42-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 600px;" title="Mimi, 15, volunteers at Comandos de Salvamento. She deals with all kinds of emergencies, extreme violence and people that have been severely injured or killed by the gangs in El Salvador. (Encarni Pindado/for NPR)" /></div><div><p>As a paramedic, she likes being able to help people who are victims of the gangs.</p></div></div><p>&quot;It feels good to be somebody else&#39;s shield,&quot; she says.</p><p>We spend the night shift with Mimi. We watch as she and her colleagues help a girl with special needs, who has spiked a fever, get to a hospital. We watch as they respond to a man who has been hit by a car and is now unconscious.</p><p>And, toward the end of the shift, we watch as they confront El Salvador&#39;s gang violence up close.</p><p><img alt="A wounded woman arrives at the offices of Comando de Salvamento. Her companions claim she was pushed from a bus by gang members." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/05/elsalvadorgirls-8_slide-58afc0a8852eec046e0af6ca61903ecd728d51cb-s300-c85.jpg" style="height: 265px; width: 400px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="A wounded woman arrives at the offices of Comando de Salvamento. Her companions claim she was pushed from a bus by gang members. (Encarni Pindado/for NPR)" /></p><p>A woman stumbles into the Commandos headquarters, which is basically a garage for a handful of ambulances. One side of the woman&#39;s face is covered in blood and the men with her say she&#39;s been thrown from a bus by gang members. Her little boy&#39;s shirt is bloody, too.</p><p>The Commandos bandage the woman and Mimi cleans the boy. Then she puts them both into an ambulance that will take them to the hospital.</p><p>Mimi tells us she wants to say in El Salvador. She says if she helps people like this, maybe someday someone will help her, too.</p><h3>&nbsp;</h3><h3><strong>The Deported&nbsp;</strong></h3><p>One reason we&#39;re not seeing a &quot;surge&quot; in unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S. from Central America is that Mexico is catching them before they even reach the U.S.</p><p>If you&#39;re from El Salvador and you get caught, you end up in a place called the deportation center. It&#39;s one of the last places we go in El Salvador. And it&#39;s where we meet a girl who we&#39;re not even sure will make it to 15.</p><p>We can&#39;t tell you her name, because to do that would put her in a lot of danger.</p><p>She says she got caught in Tampico, Mexico. This 13-year-old girl went more than 1,000 miles and was only a few hours from the U.S.</p><p>The girl says the smuggler her family paid for left her alone on a bus. She fell asleep, got caught by Mexican immigration and was sent back to El Salvador.</p><p>We ask her why she left. It is not a happy story.</p><p>The girl says her father is in one of El Salvador&#39;s two main gangs. He&#39;s in prison for murder. And now he says if his ex-wife, the girl&#39;s mother, doesn&#39;t give him $50,000 when he gets out, he&#39;ll have the girl raped and killed.</p><p>This is how gangs work in Central America.</p><p>The girl says the family doesn&#39;t have $50,000. The girl&#39;s mom is in the U.S. Her grandmother works in a street stall. Her grandfather doesn&#39;t have a job.</p><div id="res446005779" previewtitle="Mother and daughter hang around the streets of a residential area in San Salvador controlled by the gang Barrio 18."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Mother and daughter hang around the streets of a residential area in San Salvador controlled by the gang Barrio 18." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/05/elsalvadorgirls-9_slide-3f545a102fdc5f671768061d9b6c26e16bd7fd2e-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 600px;" title="Mother and daughter hang around the streets of a residential area in San Salvador controlled by the gang Barrio 18. (Encarni Pindado/for NPR)" /></div></div><p>It&#39;s a Catch 22 &mdash; one that so many girls in El Salvador find themselves in.</p><p>If this girl stays, she could be killed. But if she tries to go to the U.S. to claim asylum, she&#39;ll probably get caught again in Mexico. Or, worse. We know from people who study these migration routes, she could be robbed or kidnaped or raped along the way.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t want that to happen,&quot; she says. &quot;I&#39;m not one of those kids who waits &#39;til the last minute to make things right. I don&#39;t have to let these things happen to me.&quot;</p><p>Pretty soon, it&#39;s time for the girl to go. Her grandpa is here to pick her up and take her home.</p><p>We get her family&#39;s phone number and make plans to see her again. But we don&#39;t see her again.</p><div id="res446010954" previewtitle="View of San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, where the murder rate in August 2015 was about 30 deaths a day."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="View of San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, where the murder rate in August 2015 was about 30 deaths a day." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/05/elsalvadorgirls-10_custom-97190ed23ad6244f3a529852cfb3ebb17f57b7f0-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 407px; width: 610px;" title="View of San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, where the murder rate in August 2015 was about 30 deaths a day. (Encarni Pindado/for NPR)" /></div><div><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/10/05/445985671/never-leave-your-house-survival-strategies-for-el-salvador-s-15girls?ft=nprml&amp;f=445985671" target="_blank">via NPR&#39;s Goats and Soda</a></em></p></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/surreal-reasons-girls-are-disappearing-el-salvador-15girls-113187 Title IX rules hit Chicago http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-14/title-ix-rules-hit-chicago-112383 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/146165203_a231642c3d_z (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/214535761&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">It&rsquo;s parade day in New York to celebrate the US Women&rsquo;s Soccer Team World Cup win. There&rsquo;s no doubt lots of young girls have gotten the soccer bug due to the World Cup excitement. But if you&rsquo;re a Chicago Public Schools high school student there&rsquo;s a chance you didn&rsquo;t have an opportunity to play on a girls soccer team. That&#39;s because according to a lawsuit filed by the National Women&rsquo;s Law Center, CPS discriminated against female students on the basis of sex when it came to interscholastic sports.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">CPS has agreed to up its game as part of an agreement with the US Education Department, in accordance with Title IX rules. Here with more on the agreement and why it was needed in the first place is Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment at the National Women&#39;s Law Center.</span></p></p> Fri, 10 Jul 2015 13:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-14/title-ix-rules-hit-chicago-112383 The 10 most controversial TV episodes http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-09/10-most-controversial-tv-episodes-108657 <p><p><img a="" alt="" and="" before="" breaking="" class="image-original_image" creator="" dunham="" episode="" episodes="" from="" girls="" gone="" has="" href="http://screenrant.com/breaking-bad-ending-finale-interview-vince-gilligan/" in="" internet="" left="" lena="" little="" nuts="" one="" only="" over="" patrick="" s="" so.="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/One Man's Trash .jpg" star="" still="" target="_blank" the="" title=" &quot;Girls&quot; star Lena Dunham and Patrick Wilson in a scene from the episode &quot;One Man's Trash.&quot; (Girls/HBO)" two="" understandably="" vince="" wilson="" with="" /></p><div class="image-insert-image "><p>The Internet is going a little nuts over the ending of &quot;Breaking Bad,&quot; and understandably so. With only three episodes left until creator Vince Gilligan&#39;s avowedly <a href="http://screenrant.com/breaking-bad-ending-finale-interview-vince-gilligan/" target="_blank">polarizing</a> finale,&nbsp;each new plot twist is more shocking and sensational than the one before. Plus, a Saul Goodman&nbsp;<a href="http://insidetv.ew.com/2013/09/11/breaking-bad-spinoff-better-call-saul/">spin-off</a>&nbsp;starring Bob Odenkirk is already in the works: another AMC series&nbsp;destined to continue pushing the boundaries of cable TV to a) new levels of borderline hysteria or b) serial drama fatigue.</p><p>Hot button television is nothing new; but oh, how times have changed. For example, the intense shock and dismay stirred up by the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78juOpTM3tE" target="_blank">Red Wedding</a>&nbsp;massacre on &quot;Game of Thrones&quot;&nbsp;makes the once-scandalous aspects of much older shows, like Lucy being (gasp!) pregnant on &quot;I Love Lucy&quot; or the Brady parents sharing a bed on &quot;The Brady Bunch,&quot; seem adorably quaint by comparison.&nbsp;</p><p>But beyond the provocative themes that have persisted throughout many a series&#39; run, from the foul mouth of &quot;All in the Family&quot; patriarch Archie Bunker to the perpetual <a href="http://voices.washingtonpost.com/celebritology/2010/04/the_10_freakiest_moments_in_tw_1.html" target="_blank">weirdness</a> of &quot;Twin Peaks,&quot; certain landmark episodes have also served as cultural powder kegs for audience uproar and debate.&nbsp;</p><p>So, which episodes reign as the most controversial to date? Here are&nbsp;my top 10:&nbsp;</p><p><strong>10. Girls, &quot;One Man&#39;s Trash&quot;</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><p>What&#39;s so controversial about this episode is why audiences found it controversial in the first place. Lena Dunham&#39;s character Hannah has a steamy dalliance with a rich, hunky stranger played by Patrick Wilson. Many viewers cited the impossibility of such an affair, saying that a man who looks like Wilson would never be attracted to an average-looking <a href="http://jezebel.com/5983437/what-kind-of-guy-does-a-girl-who-looks-like-lena-dunham-deserve" target="_blank">schlub</a>&nbsp;like Dunham. Many critics concluded that the episode must have been a <a href="http://www.esquire.com/blogs/culture/girls-season-2-episode-5-recap" target="_blank">dream</a>; because seriously, how could that ever happen? Insert massive eye roll here.</p><p>Thankfully, countless other viewers and critics jumped in to clarify that yes, a handsome man can still be attracted to a woman who doesn&#39;t look like a supermodel. Also, naked ping pong is okay.&nbsp;</p><p>Honorable Mention: &quot;On All Fours,&quot; the episode in which Adam&#39;s shocking, agressive sex with new flame Natalia looked a lot like <a href="http://hbowatch.com/on-all-fours-did-we-witness-a-rape-on-sundays-episode-of-girls/" target="_blank">rape</a>.</p><p><strong>9. Seinfeld, &quot;The Puerto Rican Day&quot;</strong></p><p>In this Season 9 episode, the &quot;Seinfeld&quot; group become stuck in traffic among the celebrants of a Puerto Rican Day Parade. Kramer accidently sets the Puerto Rican flag on fire with a sparkler and then stomps on it to quell the blaze, inciting an attack from the Puerto Rican mob that leads to Jerry&#39;s car being thrown down a stairwell.</p><p>Obviously, the National Puerto Rican Coaliton was <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Puerto_Rican_Day" target="_blank">not pleased</a> with this representation. NBC apologized; and until 2002, the episode was excluded from syndication packages to other networks.&nbsp;</p><p>Honorable Mention: &quot;The Contest,&quot; the episode in which Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer make a bet to determine who can hold out the longest as the&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_contest" target="_blank">master of their domains</a>.</p><p><strong>8. The Simpsons, &quot;The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson&quot;</strong></p><p>Since <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_vs_Homer_Simpson" target="_blank">shenanigans</a> in and around the World Trade Center featured heavily in the plot of this episode, it was removed from syndication following the September 11 attacks. By 2006, the episode come back to syndication in some areas, but with many parts edited out.&nbsp;</p><p>Honorable Mention: &quot;Blame it On Lisa,&quot; in which Lisa Simpson stumbled upon some rat-infested Brazilian slums &quot;painted bright colors...so the tourists would not be offended.&quot; Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2002/apr/09/broadcasting.internationalnews" target="_blank">spoke out</a> against the show for portraying &quot;a distorted vision of Brazilian reality.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p><strong>7. Married with Children, &quot;I&#39;ll See You in Court&quot;</strong></p><p>Due to the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I'll_See_You_in_Court" target="_blank">sex tape plot</a> orchestrated by the already controversial Bundy family, this episode was pulled by the censors and prevented from being aired for over a decade. Showrunner Michael Moye has since claimed that producers dubbed it &quot;The Lost Episode,&quot; both because it never aired and because they felt that they had lost control of the project.&nbsp;</p><p>Honorable Mention: &quot;Her Cups Runneth Over,&quot; another highly sexual episode of &quot;Married with Children&quot; that prompted Michigan woman <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Rakolta" target="_blank">Terry Rakolta</a> to launch a letter-writing campaign urging audiences to boycott the show.</p><p><strong>6. The X Files, &quot;Home&quot;</strong></p><p>While &quot;The X Files&quot; has never shied away from creepy subject matter, this 1996 episode was by far the most horrific. Brief summary: a quadruple amputee mother is caught breeding with her disfigured sons, thereby creating more <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiMq8e2RJA4" target="_blank">montrously disfigured</a> children.</p><p>&quot;Home&quot; was yanked after its initial airing to its graphic nature, making it the only &quot;X Files&quot; episode to be banned from repetition on Fox.&nbsp;</p><p>Honorable Mention: &quot;Irresistible,&quot; one of the few &quot;X Files&quot; episodes to feature a human <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irresistible_(The_X-Files)" target="_blank">serial killer</a> (played by Donald Pfaster) instead of a supernatural entity.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>5. South Park, &quot;Trapped in the Closet&quot;</strong></p><p>In 2006, Comedy Central&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trapped_in_the_Closet_(South_Park)" target="_blank">canceled</a> the rebroadcast of this episode without prior notice, allegedly because parent company Viacom was being faced with threats from Tom Cruise to boycott publicity for <em>Mission Impossible III.</em>&nbsp;Rumor has it that Cruise, who also reportedly&nbsp;<a href="http://freespeechdebate.com/en/case/tom-cruise-sues-south-park/" target="_blank">threatened to sue</a> &quot;South Park&quot; for besmirching his action star image, did not find a gay cartoon version of himself &quot;trapped in the closet&quot; to be particularly amusing.&nbsp;</p><p>Honorable Mentions: &quot;Jared Has Aides,&quot;a 2002 episode later&nbsp;<a href="http://tv.msn.com/tv/episode/south-park/jared-has-aides.1/" target="_blank">banned</a> by Comedy Central. Ironically, this decision was made not because of the AIDS-related material, but due to the portrayal of Butters being abused by his parents.</p><p><strong>4. The Sopranos, &quot;Made in America&quot;</strong></p><p>The anti-climactic fadeout of &quot;The Sopranos&quot; series finale left the majority of diehard fans feeling <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Made_in_America_(The_Sopranos)" target="_blank">very upset</a>. However, retrospective reviews of the episode have been mostly positive&mdash;likely fueled by the lengthy media discussions that immediately followed the broadcast and caused many viewers to change their interpretations of the ending.</p><p>Honorable Mentions: The much-maligned season finales of &quot;Lost,&quot; &quot;Roseanne&quot; and &quot;Gossip Girl&quot; (Dan Humphrey was GG all along? <a href="http://www.wetpaint.com/gossip-girl/articles/5-reasons-were-mad-that-dan-humphrey-is-gossip-girl" target="_blank">As if</a>.)&nbsp;</p><p><strong>3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, &quot;Earshot&quot;</strong></p><p>A school shooting on a popular teen drama is a hard sell at any time, but especially in the wake of a real-life tragedy. Such was the case with the infamous &quot;Buffy&quot; episode about a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earshot_(Buffy_the_Vampire_Slayer)" target="_blank">high school gunman</a>: originally scheduled to air one week after the shooting at Columbine High School had taken place. &quot;Earshot&quot; did not appear on American television until five months later, but viewers&#39; emotions were still rubbed raw.&nbsp;</p><p>Honorable Mention: &quot;Glee&quot; airing its <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_Star_(Glee)" target="_blank">&quot;Shooting Star&quot;</a> episode just four months after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, and receiving a hailstorm of backlash as a result.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>2. Maude, &quot;Maude&#39;s Dilemma&quot;</strong></p><p>&quot;Maude&quot; was a revolutionary sitcom that continually broke new ground in the 1970s, but one episode stands out above the rest. In this iconic two-parter, which originally aired in November 1972, the titular character (played by Bea Arthur) is dismayed to find herself pregnant at 47 and decides to have an abortion.</p><p>Roe v. Wade made abortions legal nationwide <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v_wade" target="_blank">two months later</a>; but members of the clergy still reacted to strongly to &quot;Maude&#39;s Dilemma&quot; being re-run in 1973, and at least 30 stations&nbsp;<a href="http://news.google.co.uk/newspapers?id=AUsNAAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=Dm0DAAAAIBAJ&amp;dq=maude%20abortion&amp;pg=3411%2C2835386" target="_blank">pre-empted</a> the episode.</p><p>Honorable Mention: A controversial <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accidents_Will_Happen_(Degrassi:_The_Next_Generation)" target="_blank">teen abortion</a> arc on the Canadian soap &quot;Degrassi&quot; also kept the 2004 episode &quot;Accidents Will Happen,&quot; from airing in the United States for many years.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>1. Ellen, &quot;The Puppy Episode&quot;</strong></p><p>This unforgettable two-part episode of Ellen Degeneres&#39; late &#39;90s sitcom, in which both she and her character Ellen Morgan&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Puppy_Episode" target="_blank">came out as gay</a>, caused such a furor upon its initial airing that ABC had to issue a &quot;Parental Advisory&quot; at the top of each new episode. The series was cancelled one season later, and both Degeneres and co-star Laura Dern faced career backlash for years afterward. Oprah, who played the small role of Ellen&#39;s therapist in the episode, later said that she received <a href="http://radaronline.com/exclusives/2012/08/oprah-winfrey-ellen-degeneres-coming-out-backlash/" target="_blank">death threats</a>.</p><p>Today, &quot;The Puppy Episode&quot; is <a href="http://www.emmytvlegends.org/blog/?p=5903" target="_blank">widely regarded</a> as one of the most important and influential broadcasts in scripted television history. Degeneres&#39; career has recovered <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW5jDoD_IYw" target="_blank">quite nicely</a> as well.&nbsp;</p><p>Which episodes would you add to this list?</p><p><em>Leah Pickett is a pop culture writer and co-host of WBEZ&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2">Changing Channels,</a>&nbsp;a podcast about the future of television. Follow Leah on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>&nbsp;and<a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">&nbsp;Tumblr</a>.</em></p></div></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 13 Sep 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-09/10-most-controversial-tv-episodes-108657 'Frances Ha' gets young women and millennials right http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/frances-ha-gets-young-women-and-millennials-right-107411 <p><p><a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=6&amp;ved=0CGMQFjAF&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.franceshamovie.com%2F&amp;ei=6BWmUdilIIrK9gSeq4DoCg&amp;usg=AFQjCNE9dGzWz47gWHrazMzBTDHcf3EbPw&amp;sig2=Vv3gALUP77OzEm-zDFMMwg&amp;bvm=bv.47008514,d.eWU" target="_blank"><em>Frances Ha</em></a> is a truly great film. It appears light and lovely and even (lovingly) frivolous and it is all of those things. But it is also very, very good. If one gives it the chance it deserves, it might even surprise and delight.</p><p>Yes, the movie was filmed in black and white, giving Manhattan and Brooklyn and Paris and even a small house in Sacramento a certain beauty that romanticizes the story line.</p><p>Yes, the dialogue can be fast and unnatural.</p><p>And yes, the end which wraps up almost too nicely can feel frustrating knowing the journey beforehand. But these things should not deter from the film as a whole. If films are meant to offer slices of life, then <em>Frances Ha</em> offers just that. Life is not a perfect narrative, but one that changes course along the way turning from comedy to drama and back again.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/still2.jpg" style="height: 188px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="(Courtesy of IFC Films)" />Frances stumbles onto the screen. And once she is there, it is hard to imagine her not there. She stumbles in both her conversations (never graceful, always uncomfortable) and in her physicality. Greta Gerwig is a tall actress, not entirely a rarity in Hollywood. But she has a physical presence on screen in <em>Frances Ha</em> (a film she co-wrote with director Noah Baumbach) that is captivating and demanding. It was evident in early mumblecore films such as <em>Hannah Takes the Stairs</em> and director Baumbach&rsquo;s <em>Greenberg</em>. It is especially evident here. Yes, she is the star of the film. But even if she wasn&rsquo;t, even if she was a minor character like the few minor yet perfect characters that pop up in <em>Frances Ha</em> throughout her 18-month journey (such as the always enigmatic Adam Driver as roommate #2 Lev), she would still demand attention. That Frances is an aspiring modern dancer only further highlights the ways in which life literally changes the machinations of our body.</p><p><em>Frances Ha</em> is a movie about many things. On the surface, it appears to be about millennials. Frances faces big and little disappointments that slowly try to break her spirit. Her best friend moves out of their apartment and into Manhattan. The rent on her Chinatown shared apartment goes up past what she can afford. She is not asked to be a part of her company&rsquo;s winter performances. These situations are physically affecting on Frances, if only temporarily. One sees it in her hunched shoulders or her face, a brief tell. But through it all she maintains a sort of millennial optimism that emphasizes finding joy in what life has given you, even if it is not perfect.</p><p>Frances is a character both easy and not easy to love. This is common for most Baumbach characters, but her possible lack of appeal stems more from her optimism and enthusiasm than from his typical pessimism and cruelty. In many ways, she might seem unreal. There is a perception that millennials want everything and want it immediately. But <em>Frances Ha</em> shows the reality, one that merely asks that happiness <em>be</em> possible.&nbsp;More than anything, the movie is a story about the loss of friendships. It seems impossible that the friends we hold so dear can one day slip away from us. But perhaps a part of us has always known that this might (or would certainly) happen and it is too difficult to understand.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/still3.jpg" style="height: 388px; width: 620px;" title="(Courtesy of IFC Films)" /></p><p>This is a story told through Frances&rsquo; perspective. We assume that Frances&rsquo; roommate does not like her boyfriend because Frances does not like him. But she stays with him. This continues to shock Frances. But what does Frances truly know about the world around her? What does she know about the people around her? When best friend Sophie moves to Tribeca, Frances takes it almost like an act of betrayal. Maybe it is. It is not impossible to imagine being in a similar situation. But Sophie supposedly expressed her desire to live in Tribeca before. That this dream would involve Frances factored little into her motivation. In friendship, we hope to find someone agreeable. In reality, we find this and something more: an actual individual person with hopes and dreams and desires. Even having diverging interests can fracture a friendship. The things we do, the people we hold dear, can change the course of our lives forever.</p><p>The film greatly supports the power and strength of female friendships too. They are unique and precious and to have a truly great best friend as a woman with another woman is to know love that transcends the complications of life. To lose that, then, is to lose comfort and security. It is the loss of someone we think we know as well as ourselves. It is the loss of self.</p><p>Dreams change. Friendships slip away. This is difficult to process. It seems unfair. Recognizing what you saw for yourself and what life actually gave you can be heartbreaking. This is what <em>Frances Ha</em> reminds its audience. I went to see the film on a Monday afternoon. The audience was largely comprised of middle-age couples, probably the ideal Baumbach audience. There were very few people my age and that is a shame because this is a film for them &ndash; for &quot;us&quot; &ndash; in a way that many films are not.</p><p>I can understand now why a show like <em>Girls</em> is popular even when many people (including me) do not like it. It is rare to see that life, the one of a young woman, reflected back on the screen. Not all fiction needs to be a study in our own desires for self-reflection. But its lack of presence in popular culture points to how refreshing it is to see on screen. Living through it now, it is difficult to say whether or not the millennial situation is worse than previous generations. But it is certainly unique and complicated in a way that very few have captured honestly. In <em>Frances Ha</em>, we are given a movie that understands. It does not condescend. It loves and loves fiercely.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Frances Ha is in theaters now.&nbsp;Britt Julious blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 29 May 2013 10:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/frances-ha-gets-young-women-and-millennials-right-107411 Girl problems: Why Lena Dunham gets scapegoated for TV's lack of diversity http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-02/girl-problems-why-lena-dunham-gets-scapegoated-tvs-lack-diversity-105376 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/large_2.jpg" style="width: 449px; height: 280px;" title="(Golden Globes/AP)" /></div><p>If you&rsquo;ve logged on the internet at all in the past year (or even passingly know what Jezebel is), you know that a lot of people have a big, casually racist bone to pick with Lena Dunham. As the writer/producer of <em>Girls</em>, Dunham was being billed as the &ldquo;voice of a generation,&rdquo; one that would revolutionize the ways in which we talk about women in the media.</p><p>The problem for many with Dunham is the inclusion of young, privileged white women&mdash;about which there are many shows&mdash;speaks to the disinclusion of women of color, who have no one speaking for them. The show continued to marginalize anyone not of Dunham&rsquo;s background and social status (as the daughter of a famous artist), and as the show was marketed as a representation of the Millenial Generation, many felt it was a damaging and problematic representation. Rather than pushing things forward, <em>Girls</em> represented a nudge in the right direction&mdash;or more like a plaintive tiptoe.</p><p>But to many, it looked like more of the same. It was White Girl Problems all over again.</p><p>In interviews, Dunham hasn&rsquo;t been shy about speaking to the show&rsquo;s race problem. She mentioned that, when casting the show, race was not much of a consideration, which speaks the ways in which both white feminists and the television industry often don&rsquo;t recognize racial inclusion as being an issue.</p><p>With the new season, I was looking forward to Dunham taking the internet&rsquo;s criticisms and learning from them, and lo and behold, the premiere practically opens with Dunham carnally knowledging Donald Glover, the black comedian known best for his role as Troy on <em>Community</em>.&nbsp; While they&rsquo;re getting all up in each other, Glover and Dunham keep repeating phrases like &ldquo;You wanted this&rdquo; and &ldquo;It&rsquo;s about damn time,&rdquo; as an overt message to the show&rsquo;s fans. Dunham gets it, y&rsquo;all.</p><p>Many were concerned that Glover was being cast to as a &ldquo;token black friend,&rdquo; and the fact that the show opened with them sexing each other didn&rsquo;t help much, as it looked like just another image of the hyper-sexualized black male. The fear was that Glover wouldn&rsquo;t be presented as a character but an essentialized object, a vehicle of desire. To an extent, that was exactly the case.</p><p>However, Dunham did something interesting: she used Glover&rsquo;s character to call her on her bullshit&mdash;criticizing her for tokenizing him and not being truly interested in getting to know him. Dunham&rsquo;s Hannah was the kind of girl who would date a black guy to feel cool and get to go to the &ldquo;scary&rdquo; part of town. Basically, Glover&rsquo;s character was calling her a hipster racist, which was the major charge against<em> Girls</em> last year. Dunham literally put all of her critics&rsquo; words in Glover&rsquo;s mouth.</p><p>True to her character&rsquo;s narcissism, Hannah ignores them and creates a narrative in which she&rsquo;s in the right in the break up. She&rsquo;s the savior. Life is like <em>The Blind Side</em>, guys.</p><p>Q: Is this progress?</p><p>A: Not so fast. Let&rsquo;s examine.</p><p>Last year, Dunham mentioned that she wrote for white girls because she wanted to write from her own experiences, and this scene serves to narratively let her off the hook for not writing a black actor into the show or doing the work of inclusion. Part of being a good writer is pushing yourself to write outside of your world. Was Dave Eggers an African refugee when he wrote <em>What Is the What</em>? No, but he pushed himself to get inside someone else&rsquo;s head and see the world from someone else&rsquo;s point of view.</p><p>Martin McDonagh, the playwright and director&rsquo;s newest film, <em>Seven Psychopaths</em>, comments on this phenomenon through his lead character, played by Colin Farrell. McDonagh has often been criticized for not writing roles for women, and his lead, a screenwriter, grapples with the same issues in his work. As a part of this meta-commentary, the film&rsquo;s two female characters are vastly underwritten, and actresses Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurlyenko maybe share ten minutes of screen time between the two of them.</p><p>However, McDonagh calling himself on his own bullsh*t lends him an easy out, as he still doesn&rsquo;t have to write a female character. The same is true for Dunham, who gave herself a nice Get Out Of (Hipster Racist) Jail Free card by casting Glover for two whole episodes.</p><p>But what does give me hope is that Dunham has the courage to take responsibility for her show&rsquo;s representation of gender, race and sexuality in a way many shows do not. Shows like <em>How I Met Your</em> <em>Mother </em>and <em>Two and a Half Men</em> have repeatedly bashed transgender people for years, using the idea of transitioning as a cheap ploy for ridicule and laughter. <em>Two Broke Girls</em>, <em>That 70&rsquo;s Show</em>, <em>Sex and the City</em>, <em>Family Guy</em>, <em>Outsourced</em>, <em>Modern Family</em>, <em>Seinfeld </em>and <em>Homeland</em> have gotten away with trafficking in overt racial stereotypes, and shows like <em>Nashville</em>, <em>Mad Men</em>, <em>Raising Hope</em>, <em>The Middle</em>, <em>Enlightened</em> and my beloved <em>Cougar Town</em> have little to no POC representation.</p><p>Even reality shows aren&rsquo;t much better. Food for thought: Neither the <em>The Bachelor</em> nor <em>The Bachelorette </em>have ever starred a minority.</p><p>Last year, television critic Maureen Ryan argued that shows like <em>Girls</em> highlight the ongoing racial disparities on television. The problem isn&rsquo;t that Dunham is racist. Television is racist. Currently, the only primetime network sitcom about a black family is <em>The Cleveland Show</em>, which is a) animated and b) crazy problematic. In the 2000&rsquo;s, network TV saw shows like the traditional family comedy <em>My Wife and Kids</em> and the critically lauded <em>Everybody Hates Chris</em> come and go.</p><p>A television landscape that makes room for <em>A Different World</em>, <em>Cosby</em> and <em>The Fresh Prince</em> is largely a thing of the past, and unless it&rsquo;s Kerry Washington on <em>Scandal</em>, people of color are our black friends or casual flings&mdash;like Glover or Idris Elba on <em>The Big C</em>.&nbsp; Remember: Washington was the first black female lead on a network show in almost <a href="http://www.oprah.com/own-oprahs-next-chapter/Oprahs-Next-Chapter-Kerry-Washington-and-Shonda-Rhimes">forty years</a>. Clearly, TV has a race problem&mdash;or else Ken Jeong wouldn&rsquo;t be allowed to be in things.</p><p>However, Americans aren&rsquo;t often trained to see structural racism&mdash;although we&rsquo;re good at pointing out individual acts. (See: the movie<em> Crash</em>, which only looks at racism as a personal problem that can be overcome with a little shaming, yelling and Sandra Bullock falling down some stairs. Inequality solved!) <em>Scandal</em> showrunner Shonda Rhimes spoke to this tendency when she <a href="http://www.tvguide.com/News/Shonda-Rhimes-Bunheads-1048843.aspx">called out</a> ABC Family&rsquo;s <em>Bunheads</em> for not including girls of color, which sparked <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/amy-sherman-palladino-shonda-rhimes-bunheads-338681">fervent response</a> from creator Amy Sherman-Palladino.</p><p>However, Sherman-Palladino also worked on <em>Gilmore Girls</em>, which championed both women of color and full-figured women in its seven seasons. At a time when the Ally McBeal body was the norm, the show was practically bursting with big girls, and it was awesome.</p><p>I find it interesting that whereas showrunners like Larry David, Ryan Murphy, Michael Patrick King, Mark Brazil, Steven Levitan and Seth MacFarlane are often let off the hook for their race problems or lauded as champions of equal opportunity humor, Dunham and Sherman-Palladino are made to pay for our media sins. In my critiques of King and Murphy, many were quick to defend them and defend them as refreshingly un-PC, willing to say what others are not. <em>Sex and the City</em> was actually about that sort of thing.</p><p>However, almost no one has jumped to defend Dunham for the same reason to defend Sherman-Palladino&rsquo;s right to make a show about white girls. In film, directors like Wes Anderson have, for years, gotten away with making movies with all-white casts&mdash;with almost no one criticizing his right to completely leave people of color out. Anderson&rsquo;s lone black character was <em>The Royal Tenenbaums</em>&rsquo; Danny Glover, who had almost no lines, and his most <a href="http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2010/02/darjeeling-limited.html">racially inclusive</a> movie was <em>The Darjeeling Limited</em>, a film that could have been called <em>Orientalism: The Movie</em>. It was a <a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oew-pandey10oct10,0,7184917.story">neo-colonialist</a> <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2007/09/unbearable_whiteness.html">fever dream</a>.</p><p>And remember Pagoda? He won&rsquo;t be winning Anderson POC awesome points anytime soon.</p><p>The major difference between Dunham and Anderson is that one is male&mdash;and the other is not. Although the criticism of Dunham is accurate, one of the things that&rsquo;s made her so easy to critique is the fact that she&rsquo;s a woman and, thus, free game for public scrutiny and paternalism. In a tabloid- and blog-driven media, women&#39;s bodies are an avenue for debate, whether that&rsquo;s Jennifer Lawrence&rsquo;s &ldquo;fatness,&rdquo; Madonna&rsquo;s arms, Angelina Jolie&rsquo;s legs, Willow Smith&#39;s hair, Lindsay Lohan&rsquo;s plastic surgery, Megan Fox&rsquo;s thumbs or Jessica Simpson&rsquo;s pregnancy body. We look at women to ask &ldquo;Who wore it best?&rdquo;&mdash;to hold some up while others are destroyed.</p><p>If you look at shows like <em>Revenge </em>or the <em>Real Housewives </em>series, we root for women to be taken down or torn apart&mdash;to be called out and shown for the frauds they are. For instance, check out that Buzzfeed <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/louispeitzman/why-do-people-hate-anne-hathaway">article</a> on Anne Hathaway, which bashes every single facet of her career (and her &quot;stupid face&quot;)&mdash;but for what gain? Even if someone is gracious, hard-working and seemingly perfect, as Hathaway is, we can despise her anyway. As Slate <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/01/31/why_do_people_hate_anne_hathaway_one_reason_is_simple_sexism.html">put it</a>: &quot;Why do people hate Anne Hathaway? One simple reason is sexism.&quot;</p><p>And our media culture of lady hate sets up a discourse where we feel free to tear Lena Dunham apart&mdash;for her privilege, her non-normative body and the fact that she doesn&rsquo;t live up to our expectations who she&rsquo;s supposed to be. A parody of the show&rsquo;s poster&mdash;which re-titled the program as &ldquo;Nepotism&rdquo;&mdash;went viral before the show even aired, before Dunham&rsquo;s work even got the chance to speak for itself. The backlash against her was almost built-in, like the media&rsquo;s dogpiling on Diablo Cody and Kathryn Bigelow.</p><p>Compare the constant criticism of Sofia Coppola for &ldquo;always doing the same thing&rdquo; to Woody Allen who gets awarded for it. The Oscar-nominated <em>Match Point</em> was lauded as a return to form and his best film in 25 years, despite being a virtual remake of his own film, <em>Crimes and Misdemeanors</em>.</p><p>Of course, I don&rsquo;t think the fact of her gender lets her off the hook for the criticism lobbied against her. In her Golden Globes speech, Dunham thanked HBO for letting a misfit like her into their space, as girls who look like Lena Dunham aren&rsquo;t often allowed to sit at the table. However, Lena Dunham needs to use her power of representation to allow others the same privilege and use that power for good. Rather than taking the easy way out, her show needs to do the actual work of inclusion by letting others sit at the table, too. Dunham needs to realize she isn&rsquo;t the only girl in the world and make room for the Issa Raes and the Mindy Kalings.</p><p>However, the burden of change isn&rsquo;t on Dunham alone. The industry itself needs to see racial inclusion as an issue, and we as a public need to hold ourselves accountable to seeing the bigger picture. While critiquing Lena Dunham, we need to hold the industry to the same standards and ask why one of our <em>Two and a Half Men</em> can&rsquo;t be black or our <em>Two Broke Girls</em> can&rsquo;t be Asian. If we&rsquo;re serious about making TV a better place, we need to expect change out of more than just one show and one girl and stop asking women to make it better while the rest of us sit back and watch.</p><p>Dunham has clearly got girl problems, but fixing all of ours isn&rsquo;t one. We all need to call ourselves on our bullsh*t.</p><p><em>Nico Lang blogs about LGBTQ life in Chicago for WBEZ.org. </em><em>To talk more about Gilmore Girls, follow Nico Lang on Twitter @<a href="http://www.twitter.com/Nico_Lang">Nico_Lang</a> or find Nico on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/NicoRLang">Facebook</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 06 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-02/girl-problems-why-lena-dunham-gets-scapegoated-tvs-lack-diversity-105376 Lena Dunham: The voice of a generation? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-01/lena-dunham-voice-generation-105194 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Girls .png" title="From left: Jemima Kirke, Lena Dunham, Zosia Mamet and Allison Williams: the stars of HBO's smash-hit 'Girls.' (Hollywood Reporter/HBO)" /></p><p>Lena Dunham and I have a lot in common.</p><p>OK, we&rsquo;re not<em> exactly</em> alike. I don&#39;t share Dunham&#39;s <a href="http://blog.zap2it.com/pop2it/2013/01/lena-dunham-gets-criticized-for-blobby-body-in-nasty-girls-review.html">much-maligned</a> body type, and my mother is not a <a href="http://www.lauriesimmons.net">famous artist</a> with a $2 million loft in TriBeCa. I also don&rsquo;t co-write, direct or star in my own hit series on HBO (except for in my dreams) But in many ways, I consider Dunham to be a kindred spirit, or at least a wacky spirit guide for surviving my mid-twenties.&nbsp;</p><p>Her character on <em>Girls</em>, the awkward yet somehow endearing 24-year-old Hannah Horvath, is an aspiring writer trying to make it in New York after her parents cut her off financially. Replace Brooklyn with Logan Square, and that&rsquo;s my life in a nutshell. Also, since Dunham is essentially playing herself (albeit an exagerrated version with fictional monetary woes), her stories of personal and professional struggle bizarrely reflect my own.&nbsp;</p><p>Dunham isn&rsquo;t a role model per se, but she does represent a faction of society that currently dominates popular culture: postgrad twenty-somethings. Or as the baby boomers like to call us, the &ldquo;entitlement generation.&quot;</p><p>That being said, I can see why so many people hate her. Dunham was born into privilege, attended one of the<a href="http://images.businessweek.com/slideshows/20111025/most-expensive-colleges-2011.html#slide14">&nbsp;most expensive art colleges</a>&nbsp;in the country&nbsp;and apparently <a href="http://www.npr.org/2012/05/07/152183865/lena-dunham-addresses-criticism-aimed-at-girls">didn&#39;t grow up around too many black people</a>. Her pet project&nbsp;<em>Tiny Furniture</em>&nbsp;got picked up by several film festivals in 2010, prompting Hollywood hitmaker <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2012/10/16/163012161/judd-apatow-and-lena-dunham-talk-about-comedy-on-iconoclasts">Judd Apatow</a> to take her under his wing and launch <em>Girls</em>&nbsp;with his new protègè front and center. No wonder her critics keep making <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/confidential/howard-stern-big-fat-meanie-girls-star-article-1.1238991">fat jokes</a>! They have to bring her down somehow.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Rk0-irdPGhU" width="620"></iframe></p><p>&quot;Bad Friend,&quot; an episode&nbsp;documenting Hannah&#39;s misadventures with <a href="http://jezebel.com/5979536/girls-finally-tackles-ladyblogs">blogging, clubbing and cocaine</a> that aired on Sunday night, is a prime example of why&nbsp;<em>Girls </em>is one of the best shows currently on television. Hot off the heels of two <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/13/girls-golden-globe-best-comedy_n_2466394.html">Golden Globe awards</a>, one for Best Comedy Series and the other for Dunham as Best Actress, the series continues to top itself week after week and shows no signs of slowing down.</p><p>Dunham and <em>Girls</em> co-writer <a href="http://www.vulture.com/2013/01/grown-up-behind-girls-jenni-konner.html">Jenni Konner</a> have been<a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/01/10/girls-season-2-of-hbo-s-lena-dunham-comedy-soars.html"> showered with praise</a> since Season 2 began in early January, especially in addressing the <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/04/lena-dunham-girls-race.html">&quot;people of color&quot;</a> issue that had been previously overlooked in Season 1. Dunham recently acquired a $3 million-plus <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/07/lena-dunham-book-_n_2259575.html">book deal</a> as a result of the show&#39;s success, and HBO has already announced a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/12/girls-season-3-hbo_n_2117810.html">greenlight</a> for Season 3.&nbsp;</p><p>But while <em>Girls</em>&nbsp;became a commercial and critical darling almost overnight,&nbsp;Dunham&#39;s public persona is decidedly less beloved. She has been called fat, ugly, racist, talentless, stupid, elitist, sexually grotesque and offensive on every level. This doesn&#39;t seem to bother her though, as she continues to <a href="http://www.thegloss.com/2012/09/23/culture/lena-dunham-naked-cake-toilet-emmys-728/">eat birthday cake naked</a> and makes no apologies for it.&nbsp;</p><p>A lot of people hate Lena Dunham because they believe that her lifestyle--a white, privileged and excessively tattooed hipstergirl cavorting through Bushwick--does not represent them (and how dare you suggest such a thing!) However, coming from a wealthy and well-connected family doesn&#39;t make her any less clever or insightful, and being a &quot;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2012/05/07/152183865/lena-dunham-addresses-criticism-aimed-at-girls">half-Jew, half-WASP</a>&quot; with lots of white friends doesn&#39;t automatically make her a racist.</p><p>We are all the product of our environments, and Dunham happens to tell some very funny stories about hers. The voice of a generation? I wouldn&#39;t go that far. A symbol of her generation? Absolutely. So say what you will about Dunham as a cultural icon, but she&#39;s going to keep <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/lena-dunham-chubby-teenager-cake_n_2434138.html">eating her cake</a> (and enjoying it too!)</p><p><em>Follow Leah on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/leahkpickett">@leahkpickett</a></em></p></p> Wed, 30 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-01/lena-dunham-voice-generation-105194