Archive | Feminist Matters

Leave It to Slim: Lauren Bacall, 1924-2014

Leave it to Lauren Bacall, who died August 12 at age 89, to slink out the back door just as the whole country was distracted by the news of Robin Williams’ suicide. The lady knew how to make an entrance and – maybe more importantly – she knew how to make an exit, too. But though she led an astoundingly full life, I’d still like to catch her by the well-tailored sleeve and whisper, “Not so fast, Slim.” We didn’t just lose the only person who could hold her own with Humphrey Bogart. Fast-talking dames everywhere just lost an important big sister.

She was born Betty Perske, a nice Jewish girl in Brooklyn, and we could argue it was her father’s early disappearance that led her into Bogie’s arms when she was nineteen years old and he was a hard-drinking, thrice-married forty-four. But anyone who’s seen the duo’s onscreen chemistry knows that’s too pat an assessment. Bogie was more than twice her age, sure, but those two were of a piece. Certainly no one could match his supreme self-possession until she fixed him with that famous come-hither stare. No wonder director Howard Hawks, whose wife discovered Bacall on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, marketed her as “The Look.” Continue Reading →

A National Holiday for Julia

August 15 marks Julia Child’s 102nd birthday. That’s hardly a banner anniversary – remember the media celebration two years ago for her centennial? – but Julia Child deserves a red-carpet bonanza every year. Certainly her birthday should be recognized as a national holiday by the food world. If not for the late cookbook author and television host, its media empire wouldn’t exist – at least not in all the glory that it currently enjoys.

Yes, we have Julia to thank for all the Americans who eat something besides TV dinners every night. (The powers-that-be at Swanson may not feel so grateful.) But we also have Julia to thank for the glut of food porn, er, television that comprises an industry unto itself. The entire Food Network should credit Julia as its real founder. Without Julia, there’d likely be no Emeril Lagasse, Jamie Oliver, Tom Colicchio, Barefoot Contessa, or Pioneer Woman in our public eye. There’d probably not even be an Anthony Bourdain or a “Hell’s Kitchen.” (There’d still be a Rachael Ray, though. With her aggressive cheer and predilection for shortcuts and catchphrases, Ray always seems one gelatin mold away from being the new Betty Crocker.) Continue Reading →

I Wonder, Woman

I was waiting on line at Fairway when this couple ahead of me started fighting. They were in their 60s–both clad in sensible footwear and baggy tees emblazoned with lefty slogans. You know: doggedly grey hair, spectacles, humorless facial expressions. They were of a piece. If I had to guess–and guessing is my favorite part of people-watching–I’d say they lived on the two top floors of a Park Slope brownstone they’d bought in the early ’80s. I’d put money on the fact that they didn’t have kids. They’d have been too busy fighting the good fight for such frivolous pursuits.

Anyway, they were fighting now. Boy, were they fighting. The man was yelling so loudly at the woman that it penetrated my headphone cloud. I hadn’t heard a man yell like that since I’d left my father’s house, and my fists started to clench. The actual words were inconsequential–I asked if you got skim! You know I can’t drink 2 percent!–but the voltage spoke an entirely different story. The voltage would’ve made more sense if he were calling her a stupid cunt.

I knew the type: He was a bully. A self-righteous bully who, if confronted, would never cop to how much he hated women, including his wife. A bully who would instead point to the money he donated to Planned Parenthood, to the campaigning he did for the ERA, to the volumes of feminist political theory lining his office. He was a bully all the same. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy