Death, Riots, and Justice

Freddie Gray is the most recent newsworthy death in a long line of deaths–deaths of young, black men at the hands of police officers.

The media has taken to highlighting all these deaths in recent years and months, focusing on the death itself and the events that follow. While this media coverage is often skewed to suit certain perspectives, either to portray the victim as the villain or to portray police officers as corrupted beings (consumers are free to pick and choose news outlets that cater to their biases), this media coverage is ultimately good, I think, because it forces broader American culture to acknowledge a trend that isn’t recent: That if you are a black male you are more likely to die of violence.

What really gets me about this is, young black man after young black man is murdered by police officers. (I will grant ambiguity where ambiguity is present, in addition to the necessary due process. Please note that before attacking my word choice of “murdered.”) We have video of Eric Garner being smothered and killed. We have reports of witnesses lying to the grand jury in St. Louis. And now we have a 25-year-old man dead from a spinal injury, an injury surrounded by confusion and mystery as to what happened during the 45 minutes after he was arrested and finally taken to the police station and paramedics were called.

After all these reports and more, so many people still have the knee-jerk response to condemn the victim, implying the victim deserved it. I read Facebook statuses after Michael Brown’s death expressing a connection between Brown’s marijuana use and his death, the implication being that since he did marijuana it’s okay he died. I read articles and more Facebook statuses about how honorable and noble police officers are. I am not refuting that police work is an honorable job–it is. We need police officers and it is without question a difficult and dangerous job. But when person after person is killed by police, we can’t simply throw off the term “murder” because the perpetrator was an honorable police officer. Police officers aren’t infallible. And it should go without saying that if a police officer kills a suspect he is acting as officer, attorney, and judge all at once. The killing of young black men is a trend, not an anomaly.

The obvious fact that people are missing is this: Young men are dead. Dead. They are dead at the hands of authority and power, thus there is a tendency to think that the victim had it coming. Because why else would a police officer kill a person? He had to have had it coming. But the truth is, a police officer who kills someone deserves due process just like everyone else. But being a police officer doesn’t remove the possibility of murder, as many people seem to believe it does.

And as for the riots, well, I am not one to condone rioting. I think it causes more harm than anything else, driving existing wedges ever deeper in addition to the physical and emotional harm that results from rioting. But as that great man Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

I contend that the cry of “black power” is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? (Emphasis added.)

At the time MLK said this, he specifically cited the economic plight of the “Negro” and how it had worsened over the years. Decades later, what is it America has failed to hear? Economics are one thing, but what of the reality that just by being black and male you are more likely to be killed? What about the suspicion, doubt, and fear that arise just because of skin color? If Freddie Gray had been white would police officers still be heralded as heroes? Would there be riots? Chances are there would be no need for riots because by virtue of being born white, his voice would have been heard.

So the next time this happens–and unfortunately the chances of an officer killing a black man again is high–try to listen to the victim’s family. Listen to the community. Look under the riots and listen to what the underlying problem is.

Men are dying. Men are dying and their deaths are unnecessary, unjust. To stop this trend, we must listen. We cannot let the voices of these men go unheard.

Selma: The otherwise ignored Best Picture Nominee

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I love movies. Love them. I am perfectly fine going to multiple movies in a week. And recently, I have taken to bringing along a notebook to the theatre in order to write down thoughts and questions and observations I have about the film I am watching. Film is great.

My love of film does not blind me to the valid argument that the Academy Awards are by and large pointless and don’t bear a true reflection of the quality or importance of a film. Arguments against the value of the Academy Awards may include:

  • Instead of a group of people watching all the noteworthy films, and then basking in their film-watching brilliance before making a series of decisions, there are campaigns for films and actors and directors. That seems much less like awards are given out of sheer merit.
  • Isn’t it just a big expensive evening for rich and famous people? Couldn’t money be better spent elsewhere?
  • If you accept film as art, and art is meant to affect people on a personal and individual level, does a fancy award matter at all?
  • That one time Moulin Rouge didn’t win Best Picture and it broke my heart. “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return!!!!!”

Those arguments and others aside, the Academy Awards matter simply because film is so prevalent in our culture. Film is arguably the most visible media we consume and therefore what films receive accolades matter. The nominated films become buzz words and achieve a longer stay at theaters. People who have never even heard of art houses will seek out independent theaters just to go see the Oscar nominated films that never made it to mainstream viewers. Actors and directors will henceforth have, “Featuring Oscar-nominated director…” in the trailers for new movies. There is a ripple effect as a result of nominations and wins.

So. Does winning an Oscar matter for the film itself? Not really. (Unless my favorite film of the year is nominated. I JUST WANT MY FAVORITE TO WIN!!!!)

But from a cultural perspective Oscar nominees matter greatly. Which is why I am so peeved at the Oscar nominations–or more accurately, lack of nominations–for Ava DuVernay’s Selma.

selma_movieSelma is nominated for Best Picture. Great! It deserves that nomination. Selma is an amazing film with great acting, great music, great directing, a great screenplay. (Pardon my overuse of the word ‘great.’) However, that is the only nomination for the film itself. Selma is nominated for Best Picture, yet is snubbed for every category that makes it great. If the categories leading up to the final award given at the awards show are what add up to make a film the all around best, how can a film nominated for Best Picture be absent from every single other category?

Winning awards in other categories does not guarantee a Best Picture win. But to me the absence of any other nominations seems like the Academy is saying, “Well, I guess we’d better include this here civil rights movie… People will be angry if we don’t. But I don’t really like it when women direct films and I don’t really like it when black men star in movies so let’s not give it any more nominations than we have to.”

Yep, I did it. I blamed sexism and racism for the Selma snubs.

Do I really know what went through the minds of the people who make the nominations? Of course not. But you can’t watch Selma without feeling stunned by the acting and overall experience. Ava DuVernay did a remarkable job as a director. David Oyelowo was the perfect choice to play Martin Luther King, Jr. Everything about that film is perfect. It is no wonder it has a Best Picture nominee. But it is sheer film-watching insanity that its only other nomination is for the song that plays during the end credits. And so I have to ask, Why? Why the snub? And then my mind turns to the darkest answers: Social diseases such as sexism and racism, the answers supported, of course, by the overall lack of diversity in film in general and in nominations for awards.

DuVernay directing

DuVernay directing

Here is a list of everything I can recall from Selma that deserves attention:

  • Costumes
  • David Oyelowo
  • Ava DuVernay
  • Carmen Ejogo
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Set design
  • Dialogue
  • Story
  • Depiction of a tumultuous time in history in such a way that the viewer starts to get a sense–even a tiny sense–of what it was like
  • A story about black people told by black people, and without the white savior character
  • I think I cried out in emotion at least four times–this film is essential
  • Cinematography
  • This movie acknowledged Martin Luther King’s philandering. An unpleasant but important thing to know.
  • While there weren’t many female characters, what women were present were REAL PEOPLE. And not just in the sense that this is a movie about true events and therefore historical figures. I mean the characters had depth. And good lines. And had stories of their own.

I’m not saying for sure what movies should win in which categories–there were a lot of great films this year (The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game, anyone?). But the absence of Selma in the other categories irks me and hurts me. If it’s worthy of a Best Picture nomination, where are the nominees that add up to Best?

And when will the Academy and Hollywood at large start to recognize the tremendous contributions by all persons that do not fit the white male mold?

The Feminine Mystique happened, Remember?

There is an article circling ’round the Interwebs, especially amongst the Latter-Day Saint circles on Facebook, that is simply infuriating. This article has the appearance of having been written in the 1950’s pre-second wave feminism, but in fact was written in 2014.

The article is entitled, “5 ways you are unknowingly destroying  your husband and killing your marriage.” Dramatic, right? I think it’s time to break down why this article is not only glaringly wrong, but absolutely harmful to women and by extension marriage in general.

1. Living Outside What You Can Afford

The author of this article quotes someone in her church congregation saying,  “The best thing you can do as a wife is to live within your husband’s means.” I know there are families that have chosen to be a single-income household. And that’s great! Choices are wonderful and choosing what works best for you and your family’s unique circumstance is fantastic! But this quote assumes no women have an income of their own, but instead rely on a man to survive. This is 2014. Women have incomes. Let’s not pretend women are unable or unwilling to work for their own incomes.

And also, “The best thing you can do as a wife is to live within your husband’s means?” Really? It isn’t to be a loving partner? It isn’t to grow and develop wonderful and beautiful roots together? It isn’t to share a life together? Gee, reducing a wife down to her spending habits just sounds swell!

The author says, “Constantly complaining about not having enough to fulfill your lavish desires or racking up astronomical amounts of debt on your credit card is a poor way of saying ‘thank you’ to a faithful spouse who works hard every day to provide for the family.” I am impatiently awaiting the day to arrive when the stereotype that women are greedy consumerists dies.

Living within a budget is obviously wise. But instead of detailing how a couple can and should make a budget together, the author talks about wives’ obsessions with Kate Spade. Sure, some women love Kate Spade enough that they will go into ridiculous amounts of debt to buy a Kate Spade product. But to imply that all women and all wives don’t care about hard-earned money and flippantly spend thousands of dollars on doodads, is insulting and inaccurate. Not to mention that kind of commentary is completely unhelpful in helping couples figure out how to live within their means.

2. Constant Negativity

No one likes a Negative Nellie. However, this section of the article basically reads like this:

goodwifeguide

And that’s just not okay. If a wife is having a hard time with something, she should discuss it with her husband. That’s marriage, folks! It isn’t only about him and his hard day at work. It is also about her and her hard day at work, whether that is work away from the home or as a stay at home mother. Marriage discusses the highs and lows. If your spouse’s troubles are too frustrating for you to hear, why did you get married in the first place?

3. Putting Everything Else First

Honestly, when two people in a relationship prioritize each other that is a good thing. No arguments there.

However, I think it is vital for both partners to realize that if a wife has a career or a passion she focuses on a good amount of the time, that is not necessarily neglecting said husband. If a husband starts to complain every time a wife goes to an art class or has a work meeting during dinner, the question becomes less about what she is prioritizing, and more about why he won’t support her goals and aspirations. Balance is a necessity.

4. Witholding Physical Affection

Let me just copy and paste this entire section:

“Men crave and need physical affection with their wives. When you constantly decline intimacy, it wears on them.

Sex should not be used as a tool to control your spouse; it should be viewed as a sacred tool to draw you closer to one another and to God.

It is a great blessing to be wanted and needed by a loving, romantic husband who wants to share something so beautiful and important with you — and you only. Even though you might not always be in the mood, it’s worth it to give in (when you can) and spend that time bonding.” (Emphasis added.)

So… have you ever heard of rape? How about marital rape? Rape doesn’t stope being rape just because you are married. Sex without consent is rape. “Giving in” is not consent. Thus, “giving in” is a form of rape. This entire section is evil and wrong. If a husband truly cares about his partner, he’s not going to be down with getting down if there is not true and enthusiastic consent.

Got it?

And let’s not forget that this section implies all men are hound dogs who have the higher sex drive in the relationship. For many couples, the husband does have the higher sex drive. But not in all couples. It also implies that the behavior of men and women is set in stone, that there is minimal to no variation in how two or more men might behave. All men are different, all women are different. Let’s not put each other into boxes, shall we?

5. Not Speaking His Language

Good communication in a relationship or marriage is imperative. But I resent the idea that if there are communication problems it’s because the wife is benignly dropping hints or bottling things up and the husband is too much a dunce to understand anything. This happens, sure. But as much as our culture likes to teach us men are blind idiots who don’t know what’s what, I think by and large men are much brighter than that. And, sure, there have been generations of enculturation saying women can’t be blunt or open, but if you think wives are running around hiding while dropping hints and never speaking their minds and never being honest with their husbands, I’m afraid you might be trapped in 1897 and need to hitch a ride on the next time machine back home.

The messages in this article hurt men and women. By and large the message is: Men Come First! Get With the Program or Get Out!!!!

Relationships aren’t about who’s “destroying” one partner and who’s “killing” the marriage. From what I have observed, most of the time a divorce occurs it is because of both partners. It isn’t the wife “neglecting her wifely duty.” It isn’t a woman detailing her troubles to her husband. It isn’t a woman accepting she is a full-fledged human being. The sooner we can leave behind the idea that a marriage’s success is contingent on the wife, the sooner we can have more long-lasting and fulfilling marriages.

Back From the Dead Zone

And by dead zone I mean my blatant absence from blogging.

It all started with preparations for departure on a trip to France and Italy. Too excited and busy to write, I let it slide. And while there I only wrote in notebooks. Since returning, it’s been a transitionary phase. Transitioning from travel, transitioning to a new job (really kind of an old job to which I returned. Nonetheless, transition I must!).

It has been three weeks since my return. Three good weeks, yet I feel homesick for Italy. And Paris. Can you feel homesick for places you don’t live? Regardless, I think upon the entire country of Italy and the few spots in France I’ve visited and feel sick not knowing when I will return. Some places just reach inside your heart and camp there. They put permanent stakes in and become a part of you as sure as your arms and legs and head are a part of you.

Italy and Paris are embedded in my heartstrings forevermore.

Upon my departure from Europe, I teared up a bit. I cried at Charles de Gaulle and cried again when I landed at Salt Lake International. I’m not talking heaving sobs, here. Merely stinging eyes and a few solitary drops. It felt like I was leaving home, taking off from Paris that morning. Don’t ask for a logical reason for why this happened. I don’t have a logical explanation. It is what it is.

I want to talk about Paris for a bit.

I know multiple people who don’t like Paris. Or France. Or the French. I don’t understand it. I’ve never encountered a rude French person. Granted, I don’t speak fluent French so the few times random locals spoke to me for all I know it could have been insults. But even if that is the case, there are rude people everywhere. Most French people I have met are wonderful. Doesn’t it take a wonderful person to give a visitor a free macaron? Doesn’t it? (Side story: I bought two macarons at a patisserie in le Marais. The guy working there threw in an extra one. It was nice. And yummy.)

Perhaps people don’t love Paris because so many visitors mainly hit the high spots? The main tourist attractions? If you only visit those parts of Paris you probably won’t love Paris. Too many people, too many gimmicks, too many vendors hawking their goods, sometimes including an umbrella for fifteen euro at the sudden change in weather.

The historical and cultural attractions like the Eiffel Tower and Le Louvre and Le Champs Elysees are worth the visit. They have power and meaning. But they are not the “real Paris.”

One of my favorite things to do in Paris is to get lost. Just wander around looking at shops and bakeries. Finding the street musicians and listening. The details of Paris. That’s Paris.

This is going to sound completely full of snobbery, but I think if you come away from France and Paris thinking the French are rude and Paris is terrible, you probably had your eyes closed the entire time. That’s not to say everyone has to think of Paris as their most cherished place in the world. But to completely hate it and dislike the French… I just don’t see how that’s possible if you are truly absorbing the place and interacting with the people.

One thing about traveling in Europe is I often feel embarrassed. Embarrassed that I don’t speak the languages better. I always attempt to speak the local language and speak it as much as I can, but without fluency I am limited. However, most Italians and Parisians seem to speak a little bit of English. “A little bit of English” really means way more English than my Italian or French. It’s somewhat amusing. I’m trying to be considerate, in addition to practicing my language skills. They in turn are also trying to be considerate by speaking what English they know. Well, that and simply trying to get through to the ignorant tourist.

I always appreciate when locals let me run the course of my local language skills before they chime in with English. It lets me practice what I do know, which only helps me to learn more.

So what did I learn this trip?

Always eat the brie when it is nice and warm. Warm to the point of oozing. That is some delicious cheese.

If you are in Italy at a restaurant and they bring you a bread basket and some oil and vinegar, DON’T dribble the oil and vinegar on the bread. That’s not the intention. Use the bread to clean the sauces from your plate. Use the vinegar and oil to add any seasoning to your dishes.

The machines at the airport aren’t the only place to buy an RER ticket. Seems so obvious now…

In Paris at least, you can order a pitcher of water for free instead of buying mineral water.

The metro is great, but often it is just nicer to walk.

Piazzas can be at their most pleasant at night.

Don’t hesitate to go into the vintage stores. Do it NOW, when you see it. Planning to return often doesn’t pan out because there’s so much to do.

Don’t bother packing any scarves. You’ll just buy more.

The best olive oil comes from a little stand by the side of the road near a tiny localita, where only Italian is spoken.

Life Lessons From Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks is a TV show that only lasted one season on air, but will last forever in our hearts. Few things beat coming-of-age comedy, especially if it’s a TV show starring now famous actors when they were just starting out. What follows are some of the life lessons I’ve learned from Freaks and Geeks.

1. Just dance

I’ve heard many people say, “I hate dancing because I don’t know how.” But when it comes to dancing, you just have to go for it. Move! Give it a go! You don’t learn dancing by sitting still.

 

2. Everyone cuts the cheese

Oh, the horror!!!! You’re hanging out with a friend or maybe even a significant other and… AAAAHHHH! Your stomach starts a gurgling and you know it’s coming and… there it goes. The cheese. A toot. A fart. Whatever you want to call it. Oh, the humanity! But, hey. It’s a normal bodily function. Deal with it.

 

3. Sometimes what is winning and hilarious in TV and movies can be kind of weird in real life

Lindsay is noticeably uncomfortable in this scene, despite that in many ways it is a classic, romantic grand gesture often lauded as the best way to get the girl in romantic comedies. It’s one of the most hilarious scenes I have ever seen in TV. But Lindsay’s reaction is a life lesson in itself.

 

4. Smashing pumpkins in broad daylight can be tough

 

5. Be nice–you never know when that robot is actually your little brother

 

6. Don’t be afraid to speak up

I couldn’t find a video clip or image to illustrate this one, but there is an episode in which Vice President Bush visits the school and Lindsay is selected to be a student representative and pose a question to him. When she submits her question for approval, it is deemed too controversial so she is told to stick to a simpler question. When the moment comes to ask her question, instead of sticking to the watered-down, simple and pointless question, she asks, “Why did your staff reject my question? Are you afraid of an open discourse with students?”

Perfect.

7. Dodgeball is vicious 

An additional note on this scene: Do you know what it really means when you insult a guy by telling him to not be or act like a girl? It means being a girl is the worst possible thing you could be. It encourages sexism and degrades women and girls. Just a feminist plug for you, there.

8. All bodies are beautiful

 

9. Awkward love + Cat Stevens = a great montage

Uggh! Why can’t they just get it together????

 

*And just a bonus scene/song: 

Author: Tamsen Maloy |

 

Positive Change–Supporting the President

Politics are a hot button issue around town, “town” being everywhere. People rant, people decant thoughts, people argue, people debate. Sometimes friendships are made or ended over politics. I’ve even heard people declare members of the opposing party as sinful or unrighteous just for holding an opposing political philosophy (I’ve heard this from both sides, so please stop those self-righteous comments before they’re borne).

But here’s the problem with most political debates I’ve seen: They focus on name-calling or checklists of supposed “crimes” or the character (or lack of character) of politicians. I’m hugely in favor of politicians who avoid the bandwagon of corruption and lies and buy-outs. But you know what none of these debates addresses? Solutions.

Right now the world is in crisis. There is an epidemic of ebola (the disease I am irrationally terrified of thanks to an Anthropology class I took once). Over 200 girls in Nigeria were kidnapped from school, most of whom still haven’t been found. The Islamic State threatens life in the Middle East, while also threatening the United Kingdom and its allies. Russia invaded Ukraine. There’s conflict in Gaza. Drought is so severe people are losing their livelihoods. Campus rape is rampant. An unarmed young man was murdered by a police officer. Ecosystems are breaking down. Climates are changing. Locally, my precious desert is threatened by oil and business and greedy politicians.

That’s an entire paragraph’s worth of problems that to a certain degree as individuals, there’s not much we can do. But our world leaders are in the position to do something significant. Their role, whether we like the individual or not, is vital for these problems to be solved and for justice to be served. Their role does NOT negate the need for activism on an individual basis, whether that activism is in the form of doing what you can to solve the problem or in the form of pushing your politicians to do the right thing.

Unfortunately, I’m no idealist when it comes to esteeming politicians. In fact, the opposite is true where I have a very cynical view of them. And it is imperative to sound the alarm when politicians have a heavy misstep or completely go wrong. But that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize their position as an opportunity to do great things. And that is where how we as citizens behave comes in.

It is frustrating when you see politicians do horrible things. And truly horrible things should result in removal from office. But what I see most frequently is people going on and on about how horrible of a president President Obama is. Do they offer solutions? (Saying, “If only my candidate had won the election,” doesn’t count as a solution.) No. Do they offer a diplomatic solution to the strife in Russia and Ukraine? No. They simply complain.

When we spend all our time complaining about politicians we aren’t giving them the positive energy they need to do a good job. That might sound new age-y or something, but I believe it to be true.

So. My call to action in this post is to ask everyone to instead of complaining, send good energy to our leaders. Whether that is by prayer or meditation or good vibes or whatever your method of directing positive energy is, just do it. Making the world a better place and solving problems isn’t an easy job. In fact, it’s often a thankless job that merits more condemnation than praise, whether the mover and shaker is a politician, activist, or average citizen. Reserving judgement and offering solutions is what will ultimately make positive headway, whether your party is in office or not.

So maybe you don’t like the current president or past presidents. Maybe you don’t like the dominant party. Maybe you don’t like ANYBODY! But if we want our government to meet its potential, when the election is over opposing candidates cease to matter in terms of running the government. There are countless issues facing the world today. Making your distaste of an individual one of those problems helps no one and harms the world.

Let’s send a big wave of positive energy out there, shall we?

Standing Up For Your Sisters

To me, standing up for your fellow sisters in situations of harassment is a big deal. It can be scary because you don’t know how the harasser will react. It could be simple annoyance, or it could be violent. But when a woman is being harassed, the feeling is often one of fear and being completely alone. Thus, as a woman, I feel it is vital to stand up for my sisters, to prove that she is not alone when she’s being harassed.

Yet despite that point of view, yesterday I failed to stand up.

I was walking down a hall at my church when I saw a guy badgering a girl and saying, “You’re always so quiet. Why are you so quiet?” Instead of interceding, I simply muttered to myself, “Because she wants to be! It’s none of your business anyway!”

Love this art series. Visit http://stoptellingwomentosmile.com/About

Love this art series. Visit http://stoptellingwomentosmile.com/About

There are obviously worse ways to harass a woman. But that fact doesn’t negate this incident as harassment. There is a misogynistic belief that women owe men our best smiles, our best selves, our best conversations. But really, we don’t owe men that. We are allowed to be quiet. We are allowed to keep to ourselves. We are allowed to not have a smile plastered to our faces at every moment of the day. We aren’t here to entertain men or to feed their ego. And when it comes to church, we are there to learn and to worship. Sure, we socialize. But we are definitely not there to engage in a witty repartee just because men think we should be.

I’ve interacted with this guy before. This is a guy who thinks his comfort level is much more important than everybody else’s, as indicated by the time he flipped out at me because I dared to turn the air down a notch. Never mind that oodles of people were freezing instead of paying attention to the church speakers. He is also the kind of guy who thinks it is wrong for a girl he claims to love to serve a church mission instead of marry him. That’s respect for you.

But even knowing this I did not stand up. I saw her face, I had a response, I muttered to myself and kept walking. Why? Why did I do nothing knowing that even the slightest form of harassment has potential to make a woman fall into a dark and lonely place?

Harassment kind of feels like this.

Harassment kind of feels like this.

I suppose it could be fear. It is always terrifying to stand up to other people. And there’s always the standby, “Oh, she’s be fine. There’s nothing to worry about.” But it is my job to make sure my sisters feel safe at church. It is my job to work towards a world where my sisters feel safe at school or on the street or in their hotels or at the movies or in their cars or anywhere they feel inclined to go.

So I guess this post is a confession of my cowardice as well as a call to myself and to everyone to be better. Sometimes our perceptions might be off, but it is always better to make sure everyone involved in a strange situation feels safe and okay, than to assume everyone is safe and okay.

Even as I am writing this I am second-guessing myself. “Maybe I’m overreacting,” I keep thinking. But here’s the thing: If it feels wrong it’s wrong! Don’t second-guess yourself in these situations–just stand up.

We need to be better. As bystanders to harassment it is our responsibility to let harassers know that what they are doing is not okay. It is our responsibility to make sure the person being harassed is safe and knows someone will stand beside them. It is our responsibility to stand up.

Author: Tamsen Maloy |

Revolutionary Women: Lauren Bacall

 

“I think your whole life shows on your face and you should be proud of that.” –Lauren Bacall

6a00d8341c2ca253ef01a73ddd5427970d-450wiWhile Lauren Bacall may have been on my list of eventual revolutionary women to cover, she has been bumped to the top due to her recent death. Her film legacy is stunning, but what her legacy means to me as a modern woman is even more extraordinary.

I hate to include a paragraph that in any way defines Bacall by her husband, but I really love Humphrey Bogart so am going to anyway. He is one of my celebrity crushes (most of my celebrity crushes are on dead men) and I just love when he smiles. The Bacall and Bogie relationship was one of commitment and love. Thinking about them just makes me grin. But that is all I’ll say about that. Bacall was not defined by Bogie, even if their marriage was beautiful.

Bacall entered the film industry as a fierce contender. Her talent and presence on the screen represented a brand of acting and female representation you rarely if ever see anymore. While there were incredibly awful circumstances for women 60-70 years ago, the Golden Era of film did include great portrayals of women. Admittedly, there were also some not-so-great portrayals of women, but just look at this famous scene from To Have and Have Not:

Lauren Bacall could very well be my patronus. In the above clip her character is obviously very interested in Bogart’s character (who wouldn’t be?) and instead of waiting around dropping hints, she just goes for it! In theory, I am all about doing this but in practice I don’t even know where to begin. My default when attempting to flirt with guys is appearing completely aloof, which of course results in absolutely nothing.

I don’t want to pontificate on the overdone and inaccurate idea that women are only about finding romance. Romance is lovely, but there are so many more things in which women have interest. Nonetheless, in a world that assumes a woman making the first move is a bad idea (especially back then!) this scene just makes me shout in support and gives me a desire to just go for it. Not only in dating, but in everything! Waiting around never got anyone anything!

Born Betty Perske, she developed a love of theatre and eventually made her way into the movies. To Have and Have Not (1944) was her first film and where she met her eventual husband Humphrey Bogart. She is known for her uniquely husky voice, as well as her “look.” The “look” entails looking down with her face, but up with her eyes in a way that looks both mysterious and sexy. Reportedly, this “look” is the result of her being so nervous when she was shooting To Have and Have Not she had to keep her chin on her chest to keep her head from shaking.

Lauren Bacall--the "look."

Lauren Bacall–the “look.”

Besides her early success in film, she was an accomplished thespian, taking a several year break from film to focus on theatre in the 1960’s. She also won a Tony Award for her role in Applause, a stage adaptation of the film All About Eve.

In the film The Holiday starring Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black, and Jude Law, Kate Winslet’s character is going through a tough time involving a horrible guy. While on holiday, her Oscar-winning screenplay writer neighbor (played by Eli Wallach) advises her to watch a bunch of old movies starring all these incredible women who had gumption and guts. To me Lauren Bacall epitomizes what Winslet’s character learns. She has gumption, both on screen and off, and is about as outspoken as one can be.

Bacall stands out in the history of film because she was a woman of her own in a time when an outspoken, independent woman was largely a societal no-no. Her films showed a woman in charge of her life, taking the lead and speaking her mind. Her life showed a woman who understood choice and sacrifice and love. While it is true her name will always be tied to Bogart’s, she had her own life, created her own legacy, and was a not-so-typical force in the world of film.

Sources:

Lauren Bacall

The Legend With the Look: Remembering Lauren Bacall

Author: Tamsen Maloy |

 

Favorite Foods Ranked (But Not Really Ranked)

It might be the lack of good food near my place of employment making me sad, or maybe just the summer months because summer is the best in terms of food, but I feel a need to rank my favorite foods. But since it is nearly impossible to actually rank them, they are randomized. Because how’s a girl supposed to choose between falafel and brie as favorites? HOW???

1. Olive Oil

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I don’t know what it is about olive oil. It’s tangy, it’s sort of sweet sometimes, it’s a lovely color, it adds delight to anything you put it on. I love dipping bread into olive oil, but will often say the bread is more of a vessel for the oil because it’s really the oil I’m after. If it wouldn’t be a gigantic waste of food, I would swim in olive oil.

But not all olive oil is created equal. The only olive oil worth eating or using for sunburns, dry skin, or any other topical use is extra virgin olive oil. This means it is 100% pure olive oil with less than 1% acidity. It also means it tastes the best and is overall superior to just plain olive oil or refined olive oil.

I become oddly excited about bottles of olive oil. When I did a study abroad in Siena, Italy it was the biggest kick to buy a bottle that was made from olives grown just a few miles away (oh, and it was delicious). At home, the best olive oil comes from Tony Caputo’s. They have the best selection of oils and their samples cause me to swoon.

2. Brie

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Brie with a sourdough baguette and some fruit is a favorite. I love the colors and the tastes. I used to work at a cookie bakery where my manager and I ate baguettes, fruit, and brie fairly regularly. Last Valentine’s Day she sent me a virtual valentine via Facebook that said, “Brie mine.” Best valentine ever.

The sad part about my love of brie is, apparently brie sold in the United States–even if it’s imported from France–is not the same as the brie sold in France because here we have absurd raw milk laws. Brie is supposed to be made from raw milk, but that is illegal in the States so it has to be made with pasteurized and homogenized milk. I’m certain it’s not as good, but I still take great delight in it.

Am I a brie fraud because I can’t eat the real thing?

3. Falafel

Falafel-Sandwich

Falafel has been having a major moment since I went to New York City in April 2013 and tasted it for the first time. It wasn’t even great falafel but it was good enough to begin within me an obsession for the food.

It’s just everything delicious rolled into one substance! I don’t even really know what to say about it. It’s the perfect food, especially for vegetarians. Protein! Delicious protein! And in a pita pocket! With tzatziki sauce! It’s enough to make one dance with hungry delight. Honestly, I wish I had a magic falafel-producing contraption to carry around so I could have falafel whenever I want it.

4. Chocolate (duh)

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Who doesn’t love chocolate? I know some people don’t, and that just weirds me out. It’s like not liking The Beatles.

I love chocolate, but not all chocolate. There exists in this world chocolate that is not worth eating because it is disgusting or is sourced despicably (read: sources cacao from places using child slavery). Hershey’s falls into both those categories.

Personally, I love Ritter Sport Alpine Milk. German-made with cacao beans sourced from Nicaragua. While I like to maintain healthy skepticism when it comes to well-to-do companies, Ritter Sport says they pay farmers a fair wage and source from co-ops, so that’s nice.

Additionally, there are brownies. And local to Utah, The Chocolate Conspiracy where you can buy a raw chocolate bar for a whopping $8.00.

What is it about chocolate? I wrote a paper about cacao for a Classic Maya course in college and I still don’t quite understand why chocolate is the ultimate food.

5. Kale

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I’ve been munching on kale for years now and only recently learned it is apparently a trendy food. Who knew? Food trends are possibly the oddest trends in existence. Eat what you like and maintain a variety of different foods. Grow food, eat locally when you can, recognize that the ultimate superfood is simply a variety of real food. But moving on…

Kale is just an all around great green crop to have, and super easy to grow. One could easily grow it in a pot if one lacks a backyard and garden.

Kale is best when sauteed with garlic and dried peppers and olive oil. If done correctly, it will remain fresh and green, but might accrue some crunch from being cooked. I always like a crunch. When cooked this way, kale can be its own side dish, added to pasta (my favorite), added to eggs, added to whatever screams, “I need some kale to be complete!”

6. Squash

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I don’t even know how many varieties of squash there are. Some grow in the summer, some grow in the fall. I’ve never tasted one I didn’t like.

Zucchini and yellow squash are staples for summer. Pasta, hummus wraps, omelettes, raw dishes. They’re such warm and comforting foods.

In the fall, squash helps me to relish the cooling weather instead of look toward winter with foreboding, as I am wont to do. Pumpkin curry soup. Pumpkin pie. Butternut squash pasta. (I have a thing for pasta, too.)

Pumpkin is a vague descriptor for a squash. People tend to think of pumpkin as the bright orange, possibly roundish pumpkins used for carving. But the number of pumpkin varieties is staggering. Every fall the farmers’ market bursts with different pumpkins. Cinderella pumpkins, fairytale pumpkins, Galeux d’Eysines (often known as brain pumpkin in my house), pumpkins with names I can’t pronounce. They’re all delicious and all beautiful. At my house we buy far too many and freeze what we don’t eat quickly enough. Frozen pumpkin and butternut squash make frozen months bearable.

7. Garlic

GarlicBasket

People who stop eating garlic because they are in a romantic relationship might be a bit on the sad side. I would NEVER stop eating garlic for a relationship. Garlic is a necessity in life and makes everything better.

Garlic is supposedly one of those foods that smells bad, thus the tendency for some people to stop eating it if they’re coupled up. But I really like the smell. When I’ve been cooking with garlic and my hands smell of it for the next several hours, I’m okay with it. I love the smell. I love the taste. I love how garlic completes a dish. Without garlic, so many dishes fall flat in the taste department.

And there is something terribly pleasing about peeling off the papery layer and smashing the clove with a knife. It is a true happy place for me.

8. Baked Goods

Some of these apricots from my backyard went into pies

Some of these apricots from my backyard went into pies

My love of baked goods mostly pertains to my own homemade baked goods. While there are a few local bakeries I do love, nothing beats my own baking, and I think that’s good. One should love one’s own creations the most!!!

I love cookies and pie and pain au chocolat best of all. Interestingly, I used to think I hated pie before I started baking pie myself. As it turns out, I’m a superior pie-maker and must have intuited that other pies just weren’t up to snuff! How do I know my pies are superior? When people eat them they can’t say anything except groan in delight.

Pie is best when it is made from ingredients you grew yourself or purchased from a farmers market or co-op. Pumpkin pie from a can is not pumpkin pie in my book. Using fresh ingredients will always, always, always beat frozen or canned ingredients. And unless the crust is handmade, don’t even bother. I may or may not be a baking snob, and I’m okay with that.

I got my start baking by making cookies as a child. I was following a recipe and completely messed up, but the botched version turned out much better than the original. Now, I invent cookies and improve upon recipes that already exist.

And there you have it: the best foods. Are you hungry now?

Author: Tamsen Maloy |

Revolutionary Women: Amelia Earhart

Never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn’t be done.

–Amelia Earhart

tumblr_mcrticxMfr1qlkvgwo1_400I just love Amelia Earhart. She isn’t an unusual choice for a feature or person of admiration, but she certainly was an unusual woman of her time. Spotlighting her is not only essential given how great she was for American culture and women, it is timely because a modern Earhart aviatrix has recently finished the flight the original was tragically unable to complete.

Amelia Earhart is possibly best known for her mysterious disappearance in 1937. While that mystery is intriguing and worth exploring, I prefer to focus on her life and accomplishments.

I read a short biography of Earhart at a time in my life when more than ever before I needed to absorb the stories of revolutionary women. Contrary to my then therapist’s insistence that learning about who I called “strong or independent women” would be detrimental because it would make me feel less adequate, reading about Amelia Earhart helped me feel empowered and that my life is mine to make, and I’m not at the mercy of other people or ideas. (Take that psychotherapy! Blammo!!!)

I’m not sure why, but one detail from that biography that sticks out more than others is that of Earhart’s sleeping in her new flight jacket in order to break it in faster. I guess that just seems like the type of thing we all might do when we find our passions? Break into them as much as possible? I don’t know why that detail stands out, it just does.

Amelia-earhart-plane1As a child, Earhart was the definition of a tomboy in a time when it was less acceptable to be one. She climbed trees, hunted rats, and saved newspaper clippings of successful women in male-dominated fields.

The first time she flew in an airplane was in 1920 when she was 23 years old. She took a ride at an air show in Long Beach, California and that ride changed the direction of her life.

Working at odd jobs, she saved enough money to take flight lessons from Anita Snook. In 1921 she bought her first airplane, a bright yellow Kinner Airster biplane, which she called “The Canary.”

Earhart went on to break records and was the 16th woman to be given a pilot’s license by The Federation Aeronautique (wouldn’t it be interesting to know more about those other 15 ladies…).

In 1928 Earhart was the first woman to cross the Atlantic… as a passenger. I can’t exactly stick myself inside a historical situation (where’s the TARDIS when you need it?) but if I had to hypothesize, this seems like it was possibly a publicity stunt. A WOMAN in an AIRPLANE!! Oh, my! Newsworthy!!!! Earhart was invited to cross the Atlantic as a passenger by Captain Hilton H. Railey. She wasn’t allowed to fly because it was considered too dangerous for a woman. (Why have her then? That’s why I suspect publicity stunt. Why invite a pilot if you don’t think she’s capable of managing the flight?) Earhart mused that she felt she, “was just baggage, like a sack of potatoes.” But, never fear! That passenger flight wasn’t the last anyone heard “Earhart” and “Atlantic” together!

Amelia-Earhart-plane-found-submarine-tourismOn the fifth anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s flight, Earhart took off for the same feat. In 1932, Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. She took off from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland and headed for Paris. However, due to mechanical difficulties she didn’t make it to Paris but instead landed in a field in Londonderry, Ireland.

Earhart continued to take on difficult and inspiring flights. She became the first person to fly across both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans when she completed her Honolulu to Oakland flight. She also flew from Los Angeles to Mexico City, and from Mexico City to New York.

Earhart wearing an Amelia Earhart Fashion dress

Earhart wearing an Amelia Earhart Fashion dress

In addition to her flying prowess, she also designed a line of clothes called Amelia Earhart Fashion. Her fashion line was designed with aviation in mind, as well as a desire to design something for all women. Earhart’s line was the first to offer separates for suits. So instead of buying a suit with every piece the same size, a woman could buy a jacket in one size and a skirt in another.

She also designed her line with finances in mind. This was during the Great Depression, so her clothing could not be overpriced. She sold her clothing at prices lower than those of other fashion lines, and also sold patterns so women could make their own Amelia Earhart Fashions.

While the line didn’t last, the designs were notable because they were functional. Earhart said of her designs, “I tried to put the freedom that is in flying into the clothes.” Some notable aspects of her designs included practical fabrics, longer shirt tails that would stay tucked in with movement, solid lines instead of ruffles, buttons shaped like propellers, flowing designs, and the use of parachute silk.

Earhart’s final flight began June 1, 1937 from Miami in a Lockheed Electra. Earhart wanted to be the first woman to fly around the globe. Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan flew down Central and South America, and east for Africa. They continued up through the Middle East and South Asia, to Australia, and finally to Lae, Papua New Guinea.

It was from Lae Earhart and Noonan took off for Howland Island and were never seen again.

The leg to Howland Island was one of the last in Earhart’s round the world flight. Earhart had been communicating with the Coast Guard ship Itasca, her planned radio contact, providing updates on her location. On July 2, 1937 at 7:42 a.m. the Coast Guard ship Itasca received a radio transmission from Earhart saying, “We must be on you but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet.” Earhart’s last inflight communication came through at 8:43 a.m. indicating she was flying a north, south line.

While many theories have been presented, there have been no conclusive findings as to what ultimately happened to Earhart and Noonan. Recent research suggests radio transmissions from days following the disappearance were credibly from Earhart, though at the time they were considered bunk so went ignored.

Despite Earhart’s tragic end, her real legacy is inspiring generations of women to aspire to achieve their dreams–be they aviation dreams or not. Earhart broke boundaries for women in her time, and inspired a nation deep in the throes of the Great Depression.

And let’s get fashionably real: We wear bomber jackets because of her, right?

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Sources:

The Official Website of Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart Biography

Amelia Earhart’s Fashion Line

Discovery News

Author: Tamsen Maloy |