WBEZ | love http://www.wbez.org/tags/love Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Uncle dying of cancer rescues niece from abusive relationship http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/uncle-dying-cancer-rescues-niece-abusive-relationship-111145 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/scuncle.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Don Perry and his wife, Lee Ann, don&rsquo;t have children.</p><p>But Don&rsquo;s niece, Beth McCarthy, has always been close to her uncle and aunt.</p><p>When Don found out recently that he has Stage 4 prostate cancer, Beth brought him to the StoryCorps booth to relive some significant moments from both of their lives.</p><p>&ldquo;I remember you and Lee Ann when I was a kid,&rdquo; Beth said. &ldquo;I thought you guys were just so cool.&rdquo;</p><p>Beth brought up her uncle&rsquo;s cancer diagnosis, it&rsquo;s metastasized to his lungs.</p><p>&ldquo;We know you don&rsquo;t have that much longer&hellip;&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Don believes that with hormone therapy, he might live four or five years.</p><p>Beth questions whether her uncle believes in the afterlife.</p><p>&ldquo;No. No. Absolutely not,&rdquo; Don answered.</p><p>A while back, Don had a next-door-neighbor who was dying of brain cancer. He lived sixteen months, which is more than they thought he would. They had been good friends for 20 years.</p><p>&ldquo;And it was very hard for me just to face him because of all the baggage I had,&rdquo; Don said, &ldquo;And I just felt so inadequate that I couldn&rsquo;t say anything, that I actually avoided him.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know what to say to you,&rdquo; Beth said. &ldquo;It just makes me so sad to know that you&rsquo;re not going to be around. And you&rsquo;ve meant so much to me.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It just seems so unfair,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Well, I&rsquo;m actually pretty good with that,&rdquo; Don said.</p><p>Then, Beth said something she had wanted to say for a long time. &ldquo;I guess I&rsquo;m just so grateful for what you did for me,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I feel like you saved my life completely, literally.&rdquo;</p><p>Years ago, she was living in Boston with a boyfriend who was beating her up pretty regularly. Beth called Don and asked him to help her.</p><p>&ldquo;We just left. And I wouldn&rsquo;t have survived the next time,&rdquo; Beth said to her uncle, Don.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/uncle-dying-cancer-rescues-niece-abusive-relationship-111145 StoryCorps: Adoptive mom encourages teenage boy http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-adoptive-mom-encourages-teenage-boy-111112 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/scorpsadopt.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>&ldquo;My mom was the only one there, but she was a good mom,&rdquo; Matt Fitzsimmons says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps. &ldquo;She loved us very much. But she didn&rsquo;t have much to work with, because she was a single mom. And she passed on from cancer when I was 14. My dad came back like two months before my mom passed, and he was going to take care of us. But my dad had enough troubles of his own, with alcohol. So my sister and I had to deal with a single alcoholic parent in the house and basically he was perpetually mad at us for no good reason.&rdquo;</p><p>Fitzsimmons came to StoryCorps with Shirley Paulson, a woman who&rsquo;d known him since before he was born. She had just moved back to Chicago around the time of Fitzsimmons&rsquo; mother&rsquo;s funeral.</p><p>&ldquo;I found you then after your younger sister had gone off to school and you were living alone then with your dad&hellip;That was bad. If I remember correctly you were living with your dad in the house with a dog and a couple cats and it seemed like they had more care than you did.&rdquo;</p><p>Paulson explains how Fitzsimmons worked one summer at a camp alongside their son, Tim.</p><p>&ldquo;When we went to the airport to pick up Tim from camp, Tim said, &lsquo;Matt needs a ride home. Can we bring him home?&rsquo; Sure. So we just jumped you in the car and when we dropped you off at your house, I was stunned to realize that here you&rsquo;d been away all summer, you got your luggage out of the car, went up to the house, and there was nobody there to even say hello.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;Oh he was there,&rdquo; Fitzsimmons says. &ldquo;He was just asleep on the couch, with the five cars in the driveway and the lawn really long.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;Exactly,&rdquo; Paulson says. &ldquo;Well, the next day was Labor Day and I thought: Why don&rsquo;t we invite Matt over? We thought maybe you&rsquo;d like to come and join us. So I was a little bit nervous calling you &lsquo;cause I didn&rsquo;t know you that well. So we invited you and you said so quickly: &lsquo;Yes! Sure!&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And I noticed that you ate and ate and ate and ate. You were hungry. And so I said to my husband afterwards: &lsquo;Do you think Matt would like to come over for some more food tomorrow?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Then it became obvious that you were joining us more than the typical teenager coming over to have food with a family.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I think I talked your head off,&rdquo; Fitzsimmons says. &ldquo;We talked a lot.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah, we did talk a lot,&rdquo; Paulson says, &ldquo;and I loved that. I felt honored that you would &ndash; as a teenager - take the time to talk to me. And share your life, and it meant so much to me. It really did. But I don&rsquo;t think you realized for a while what it meant to be in the family. It took you a while to register. And it was hard to do because you had to deal with the fact that you had a family. And yet you also were being part of us. And you had loyalty to your family, which was right to do.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It was frustrating to me to have to drive you home every day across Glenview and drop you off into that nothing of a house. And then come back and pick you up the next day and bring you home and have some nice time with you and drive you back home again. And I thought: &lsquo;Why won&rsquo;t he just move in?&rsquo; But there was some stuff you had to deal with.&rdquo;</p><p>Fitzsimmons says, &ldquo;So, you were the nice person helping me. Then you converted into parental person, which is a huge shift, because you went from nice to &lsquo;You have to do this to get to the next stage of your life.&rsquo;&hellip;When I think about all those twists and turns throughout life. And if I didn&rsquo;t do this turn or that turn where would I be&hellip;That was probably the biggest turn for you to say, &lsquo;We&rsquo;re going to save him from devastation.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Of course we didn&rsquo;t think of saving you. We thought of we needed you. You&rsquo;ll get that through your head one of these days.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll say it officially: I love you.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Oh, Matt! Can I say &lsquo;I love you&rsquo; too?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;You do all the time!&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 17:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-adoptive-mom-encourages-teenage-boy-111112 Husband and wife battle Alzheimer's together http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/husband-and-wife-battle-alzheimers-together-110260 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Capture_10.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Ben Ferguson, 66, and his wife of more than four decades, Robyn, 64, grew up in Texas. It&rsquo;s where they met and fell in love. About a year ago, Ben was diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer&rsquo;s disease. And so the couple moved to Chicago to be closer to their daughter and grandchildren. They recently came to the StoryCorps booth in the Chicago Cultural Center to relive Ben&rsquo;s earliest memories, and to describe what the disease has meant for their family.</p><p>Alzheimer&rsquo;s disease, which negatively impacts the brain&rsquo;s ability to remember things, may affect more than five million Americans, according to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet" target="_blank">National Institute on Aging.</a> That number is growing, however, and could reach as many as 16 million by the year 2050, according to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.alz.org/documents/greaterillinois/statesheet_illinois(1).pdf" target="_blank">Alzheimer&rsquo;s Association of Greater Illinois.</a></p><p>&ldquo;These memories are going to fade,&rdquo; Robyn said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ve already begun to,&rdquo; Ben said.</p><p>In the booth, the couple talked about how Ben got into all kinds of trouble in elementary and high school. He once wrecked two of the family cars in one day. He was kicked out of several universities, before finding his footing and eventually earning a PhD in Psychology.</p><p>&ldquo;There have always been two sides to you,&rdquo; Robyn said. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re a bad boy. But you&rsquo;re a good boy too. I liked the bad boy first and now I like the good boy better.&rdquo; &ldquo;Yeah, but the bad boy got you,&rdquo; Ben said, laughing.</p><p>When Ben met Robyn, he said it was love at first sight. She thinks the attraction might have been more physical at first. &ldquo;I was pretty sure I wasn&rsquo;t gonna be able to run over you,&rdquo; Ben said. &ldquo;I was definitely sure that you were one of the prettiest women I have ever seen and I had tender feelings toward you.&rdquo; They married two months after meeting. They had two kids, one of whom moved to Chicago.</p><p>Then about a year ago, Ben started showing signs of Alzheimer&rsquo;s. &ldquo;It was the worst thing that&rsquo;s ever happened to me,&rdquo; Ben said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m still trying to figure out how to deal with it.&rdquo;</p><p>Now, Ben and Robyn live in Chicago and enjoy spending time with their grandkids. Ben participates in some long-term research programs at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.brain.northwestern.edu/" target="_blank">Northwestern University&rsquo;s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer&rsquo;s Disease Center (CNADC)</a>. He also takes classes there to help build memory through improvisation and takes part in a buddy program.&nbsp;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/morningshiftwbez/workshop-offers-new-form-of" target="_blank">He and Robyn are part of a storytelling group for Alzheimer&rsquo;s patients and their families.</a></p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ll just keep working on things,&rdquo; Robyn said. &ldquo;I think we&rsquo;re doing really good,&rdquo; he added.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 30 May 2014 15:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/husband-and-wife-battle-alzheimers-together-110260 Near tragedy tests young love http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/near-tragedy-tests-young-love-109793 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/storycorps molly drew_140228_lk.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>This week, our StoryCorps segment brings a special update.</p><p>The first time they came to the Chicago StoryCorps booth, Molly Timm and Drew Burke were in a long-distance relationship.</p><p>They&rsquo;d never lived in the same city. They were full of joy and hope for their first summer together in Chicago.</p><p>Drew and Molly returned to StoryCorps to fill us in on what happened next, because it wasn&rsquo;t part of their plan.</p><p><strong>MOLLY: </strong>We planned July to be an adventure.</p><p><strong>DREW: </strong>An experience</p><p><strong>MOLLY: </strong>An experience to see how well we could handle being in the same place at the same time for more than a weekend.</p><p><strong>DREW:</strong> I was grocery shopping &hellip; and I got outside and I got a phone call from you. Your parents were in a bad motorcycle accident that day.</p><p>To hear about how the couple handled this tough time (and how Molly&rsquo;s Dad tried to talk Drew into busting him out of rehab after the accident), listen to the audio above.</p><p><em>Lynette Kalsnes is a reporter/producer covering religion, culture and science at WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes" target="_blank">@LynetteKalsnes</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 28 Feb 2014 14:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/near-tragedy-tests-young-love-109793 Love and lyrics http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-12/love-and-lyrics-109327 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Flickr%3AGreen%20Watermelon.png" title="(Flickr/greenwatermelon)" /></div></div><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;">When reflecting on a past relationship, one song can bring back a tidal wave of memories.</p><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;">You go to a party with someone new; and just as his hand reaches for yours, the turntable clicks to a song that your first love used to play for you on lazy Sundays.</p><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;">You have a record that you used to enjoy, but now resent; every chord reminds you of her.</p><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;">You&#39;re picking up milk at the grocery store when you hear a song that you danced to at a wedding once, and that stab of recognition is enough to make your lungs gasp for air.&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;"><em>&quot;You&#39;re the reason why I&#39;ll move to the city/You&#39;re why I&#39;ll need to leave.&quot; - Sharon Van Etten</em></p></blockquote><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;">When I met you, I was all of 18. I liked Coldplay and Damien Rice. You introduced me to Bob Dylan, Spoon, and Nick Drake. To the tune and timbre of your records, I fell in love.</p><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;">We cooked pasta to Andrew Bird. We fell asleep to Iron &amp; Wine. We sang in the car to The Avett Brothers. We dissected the lyrics of Wilco and Arcade Fire. We made memories to Neutral Milk Hotel, St. Vincent, The Decemberists, and Radiohead. We were happy. And then we weren&#39;t.</p><blockquote><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;"><em>&nbsp;&quot;Now I&#39;m weaker than the palest blue/Oh so weak in this need for you&quot; - Nick Drake</em></p></blockquote><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;">Life without him was an apple that I needed to eat, eat, eat, but I couldn&#39;t. Without his worldly guidance and protection, his superior knowledge of seemingly everything that mattered, I was convinced that biting into the forbidden fruit would destroy me. My own demons were already too much to bear; I needed relief. I needed him to save me.</p><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;">Little did I know that attaching myself to him was the real poison, already pulsing its sweet nectar through my veins.</p><blockquote><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;"><em>&quot;Come on, skinny love, just last the year/Pour a little salt we were never here/My my my, my my my, my my/staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer&quot; - Bon Iver</em></p></blockquote><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;">I tore away from him eventually, and life went on somehow. I found fleeting comfort in the arms of others, busying myself to forget his face, his voice, and the way his kiss felt like nothing I had ever known before, and never would again.</p><blockquote><p><em>&nbsp; &nbsp; &quot;And this is the room, one afternoon/I knew I could love you&quot; - Neutral Milk Hotel</em></p></blockquote><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;">I made the mistake of seeing him through many a Thanksgiving and Christmas in my abandoned hometown, stealing nights and promises that didn&#39;t belong to me anymore.</p><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;">Now, he was just an idea of a person. He was a shell of what I needed him to be; a dream that kept me warm at night. I willed his declarations to mean something. I pretended that he cared.</p><blockquote><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;"><em>&quot;I&#39;ve got reservations/about so many things/but not about you&quot; - Wilco </em></p></blockquote><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;">I didn&#39;t understand why he kept hurting me, as if breaking me was a bad habit that he just couldn&#39;t shake. I kept entertaining the notion that he would change, that he would turn back into the person whom I used to know so well and now missed so terribly.</p><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;">He never did.</p><blockquote><p style="margin-left:13.5pt;"><em>&quot;I spent the summer on my back/Another attack/Steal you just to get along, get along, get along/Turn off the TV, wait in bed/Blue and red/A little something to get along, get along, get along/Best, finest surgeon/Come cut me open&quot; - St. Vincent</em></p></blockquote><p style="margin-left:.25in;">I wish that I could write a letter to myself, ages 21-24:</p><p style="margin-left:.25in;">If you&#39;re feeling sad and lonely, don&#39;t tell him. If you are happy and successful, don&#39;t tell him. When your health is failing, when the doctor tells you in no uncertain terms that your death is imminent, don&#39;t even think about telling him.</p><p style="margin-left:.25in;">I had to learn this the hard way.</p><blockquote><p><em>&quot;Don&#39;t dismiss it like it&#39;s easy/&#39;Cause tell me what&#39;s so easy/&#39;Bout comin&#39; to say goodbye/You&#39;re gonna miss her in the evening/You know all you need is/somebody when you come to die&quot; - Andrew Bird</em></p></blockquote><p style="margin-left:.25in;">I&#39;m stronger now, physically better. A small ache still lingers, like a tiny, hot needle that stings ever so furtively, but the heaviest burden is gone. The most exquisite, excruciating pain has been lifted. I&#39;m no longer in love with a ghost.</p><blockquote><p><em>&quot;Tied to my bed/I was younger then/I had nothing to spend but time on you/but it made me love/it made me love/it made me love more&quot; - Sharon Van Etten</em></p></blockquote><p style="margin-left:.25in;">I&#39;ve made peace with my past; I&#39;ve learned to let go. I fumbled through relationships with others, finding myself along the way. I found love again, this time with someone who is equally capable of loving me back.</p><p style="margin-left:.25in;">I&#39;ve realized that this is what true happiness feels like.</p><p style="margin-left:.25in;">I still listen to your records; I only think of you sometimes.</p><blockquote><p style="margin-left:.25in;"><em>&quot;Don&#39;t think twice, it&#39;s alright&quot; - Bob Dylan</em></p></blockquote><p style="margin-left:.25in;">I bit into the apple. I&#39;m still here.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin-left:.25in;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/lp8mXk4UvXM" width="420"></iframe></p><p style="margin-left:.25in;"><em>Leah Pickett writes about art and popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 09 Dec 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-12/love-and-lyrics-109327 Terminal disease hasn’t stopped Chicago couple from seeing the world http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/terminal-disease-hasn%E2%80%99t-stopped-chicago-couple-seeing-world-108898 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS7393_susan debra-scr.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>When Susan Schwartz married her husband, he came with kids. One of those kids was Debra Schwartz, who was a star-trek watching teenager, and a bit wary of the new woman in the house.</p><p>The two women visited the Chicago StoryCorps booth to talk about the challenges they faced negotiating their relationship in the early days , and more recently, how Susan and her husband aren&rsquo;t letting a terminal disease slow down their lifestyle.</p><p>Susan Schwartz said she knew her husband was &ldquo;it&rdquo; after they danced together.</p><p><strong>Schwartz</strong>: You can find out a lot about a person by the way they dance with you.</p><p>But that first year of marriage wasn&rsquo;t always easy.</p><p><strong>Debra Schwartz</strong>: You didn&rsquo;t have anything to prepare you to suddenly be my stepmother.&hellip; How did you know how to interact?<br /><strong>Susan Schwartz</strong>: Well, I think it&rsquo;s like everything else, you just roll with the punches.<br /><strong>Debra</strong>: Was I mean to you?<br /><strong>Susan</strong>: Oh, sometimes, sure.</p><p>Even though it was difficult, Susan and her husband made it through a first year, and then a second, she said. Now they&rsquo;re approaching 38 years together.</p><p>The couple still loves to travel. But when they were on a trip to Ecuador, they noticed something alarming.</p><p><strong>Susan</strong>: All of a sudden he didn&rsquo;t understand where we were. It was April, and he thought it was November.</p><p>To find out how what happened next, and more about Susan&rsquo;s&nbsp; wish for her husband, click on the audio above.</p><p><em>Katie Mingle is a producer for WBEZ and the Third Coast Festival.</em></p></p> Mon, 14 Oct 2013 11:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/terminal-disease-hasn%E2%80%99t-stopped-chicago-couple-seeing-world-108898 For one Pakistani man, love and sadness in post 9/11 America http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/one-pakistani-man-love-and-sadness-post-911-america-108618 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS7379_usman and malena-scr.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>In the year 2000, When Usman Ally left Pakistan to attend college in Portland, Oregon, it was still relatively easy for people coming from there to get a visa.&nbsp;</p><p>But then his life, like so many others, was forever changed by Sept. 11, 2001.&nbsp;</p><p>Ally joined his wife, Malena, at the Chicago StoryCorps booth to talk about identity and love in post-9/11 America.</p><p><strong>Malena</strong>: Talk a little bit about your experiences in Portland, what you were studying.</p><p><strong>Usman</strong>: Portland was fine. It was just very, very homogenous, and that was very difficult for me. Especially once 9/11 happened. I hate to say it, but sometimes I feel like my identity in this country is sort of defined by that event.&nbsp;</p><p>After 9/11, Arab and Muslim men from certain countries were required to go into the immigration office and sign up for &ldquo;Special Registration.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Usman</strong>: They would take all of your information, and then they would just ask these questions about who you are and where you&rsquo;re from and what your parents do. I had nothing to hide, but I just remember being terrified each time.</p><p><strong>Malena</strong>: And then we met in Chicago &hellip; What do you remember about me when we first met?</p><p><strong>Usman</strong>: ... I had a sort of nervous energy and an excitement to see you, and I was trying to figure you out a little bit. Trying to see if we were compatible at all, you know? Because we were from such different worlds.</p><p><strong>Malena</strong> &hellip; Obviously I made a good impression though, because you asked me to marry you.&nbsp;</p><p>After an arduous visa application process, Malena and Usman were married. But their wedding wasn&rsquo;t a completely happy occasion. Click on the audio above to find out why.</p><p><em>Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly described Pakistan as an Arab nation, and has been corrected. </em></p><p><em>Katie Mingle is a producer for WBEZ and the Third Coast Festival</em>.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 06 Sep 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/one-pakistani-man-love-and-sadness-post-911-america-108618 How growing up Disney shapes gender roles http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-06/how-growing-disney-shapes-gender-roles-107575 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4396784185_47dfa5c433.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 400px; float: right; " title="&quot;Once Upon a Wedding&quot; dolls of Ariel and Prince Eric. (Flickr/MadamBrightSide)" />If you are currently between the ages of 18-29, then you were raised during the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disney_Renaissance" target="_blank">Disney Renaissance</a>. This golden era of musical films&mdash;beginning in the late 1980s and ending around 2000&mdash;not only saved Disney from creative and financial ruin, but also renewed interest in the Disney brand as a critical and commerical goldmine.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image ">And if you were a pre-adolescent girl during this time, chances are good that you had a <a href="http://thoughtcatalog.com/2013/what-your-favorite-disney-princess-says-about-you/" target="_blank">favorite Disney princess</a>&nbsp;(mine was Ariel, the plucky and impossibly beautiful heroine of <em>The Little Mermaid</em>) whose love affair with a handsome prince may have been your first model of what a grownup boyfriend/girlfriend relationship should be.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Unfortunately, the fairytale romances in films like <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097757/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank"><em>The Little Mermaid </em></a>(1989) and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101414/?ref_=sr_2" target="_blank"><em>Beauty and the Beast&nbsp;</em></a>(1991)&nbsp;actually set very poor examples for young girls to follow. Ariel and Belle are smart and refreshingly independent female protagonists; that is, until they enter into relationships with their male lovers, fall head-over-heels into stereotypically submissive gender roles and lose themselves along the way.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">While Ariel does have some feminist qualities (she wants to explore, rebel and experience a life beyond the confines of her underwater world), she ultimately succumbs to a subservient role by giving up everything for her man.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Ariel trades her means of communicating and expressing personality&mdash;her voice&mdash; for the eroticism of human legs, turning her into a purely visual object of desire. Think about it: she literally gives up her voice to be with Prince Eric, even though she&#39;s only known him for about five minutes, to become the perfect mute for the&nbsp;<a href="http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/08/26/faq-what-is-the-“male-gaze”/" target="_blank">male gaze</a>.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Furthermore, the idea of Eric growing some gills and becoming a merman himself is never even mentioned. Because he is the dominant male, Ariel is expected to change her life for <em>him</em>&mdash;not the other way around. She transitions from being directly under the control of her father to being Eric&#39;s wife; so, despite longing for freedom throughout the course of the film, she is never truly independent.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The female protaganist of&nbsp;<em>Beauty and the Beast&nbsp;</em>also ends up conforming to patriarchal gender strereotypes in her &quot;happily ever after,&quot; although she does not begin her story that way. At first glance, Belle&nbsp;is the ideal feminist. She has a passion for books, longs to escape the confines of her provincial town and makes it clear to the lecherous lothario Gaston that she has zero interest in marrying him.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">However, Belle still represents the sexist role of submissive female in relation to her dominant male counterpart. A pretty girl with no money falls for a rich, abusive monster. Belle submits herself to the Beast as the self-sacrifyicing daughter, and then yields to his every command without even trying to escape. This portrayal suggests that women are repsonsible for controlling male anger and violence, even if that means completely disregarding their own sense of safety and well-being.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Belle&#39;s character further presents a damaging role model for young girls in showing that a woman is obligated to stay loyal to the abusive male in her life. She learns how to tame his outbursts and &quot;fix&quot; him to become sweet again: a dangerous error that many women make when struggling to leave a home of domestic violence.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Also, the overly-sexualized, <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2011/0924/Little-girls-or-little-women-The-Disney-princess-effect" target="_blank">anorexic Barbie doll image</a> of Disney princesses like Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas and even Tiana from <em>The Princess and the Frog</em> is another problem of gender conformity (the most beautiful and desirable women have perfectly delicate features, tiny waists, huge busoms, etc.) that Disney continues to perpetuate today.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">For example, while Pixar made great progress in writing the female protagonist of <em>Brave </em>as a courageous and self-actualized heroine whose journey doesn&#39;t revolve around a man (how refreshing!), the controversial decision to <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2013/may/16/disney-princess-merida-makeover">&quot;glamorize&quot; Merida&#39;s body type</a> for promotional purposes still proves that sexist ideology is alive and well at the Disney corporation.&nbsp;</div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">What kind of role models should children be looking up to in Disney movies and beyond?&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a> or<a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com" target="_blank"> Tumblr</a>.</em></div></p> Fri, 07 Jun 2013 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-06/how-growing-disney-shapes-gender-roles-107575 Real life Django: Love’s struggles on the Underground Railroad http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/real-life-django-love%E2%80%99s-struggles-underground-railroad-105560 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/django%20unchained%20AP%20small.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="In Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained,’ freed slave Django, played by Jamie Fox, struggles to reunite with his wife, Broomhilda, played by Kerry Washington. (AP/Sony Pictures DAPD)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79402044&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>There&rsquo;s a lot about Quentin Tarantino&rsquo;s Oscar-nominated film <em>Django Unchained</em> that seems, true to the director&rsquo;s well-known dramatic tendencies, somewhat larger than life: The huge personas of do-gooder bounty hunter King Schultz and sadistic slave owner Calvin Candie, for example, or the caricaturist&rsquo;s rendering of the conniving head house slave, Stephen.&nbsp;</p><p>But one crucial element of the film&rsquo;s plot does seem to be drawn from real life: Django&rsquo;s struggle to reunite with his wife, Broomhilda, echoes the lengths slaves would really go to in order to stay with or be reunited with their loved ones.</p><p>Author Betty DeRamus uncovered countless stories of slavery-era couples struggling to be together in the face of incredible adversity while researching her book, <em>Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories from the Underground Railroad</em>. &ldquo;Some of them are black couples, some of them are a free black person with a slave mate, and a few of them are interracial couples,&rdquo; DeRamus said. &ldquo;But they all have one thing in common: All went to extraordinary lengths to avoid being separated.&rdquo;</p><p>There was Joseph Antoine, for example, a free black man from Cuba who chose of life of indentured servitude in order to stay with his wife<strong>. &ldquo;</strong>In the process of working on that [story],&rdquo; DeRamus said, &ldquo;I discovered there were quite a few black Virginians who were willing to surrender freedom because they said the price of freedom was too high; if it meant leaving their families, they&rsquo;d rather not have it. And I had never heard that before.&rdquo;</p><p>Then there was Isaac Berry, the Missouri slave in love with his white neighbor&rsquo;s daughter, Lucy. Berry&rsquo;s owner wanted to sell him to pay off gambling debts, but Berry escaped across the Mississippi River into Illinois, then traveled to Indiana, Michigan, and finally across the Detroit River to Windsor, Canada. Lucy, meanwhile, took the money her family had saved for boarding school and instead bought a train ticket to Detroit, and waited there to meet her beau.</p><p>&ldquo;Remember, there were no cell phones, no Internet, no mass communication of any kind,&rdquo; DeRamus said of this incident, pointing out the extreme difficulty of setting up such a daring and far off rendezvous. &ldquo;One of the most extraordinary things about these couples is the faith that they had. . . that somehow things were going to work out.&rdquo;</p><p>Perhaps the most remarkable story in DeRamus&rsquo; collection is that of John Little, a slave who carried his unconscious wife to freedom on his whip-scarred back. You can hear DeRamus read her account of John Little and his wife in the audio above.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range"><em>Dynamic Range</em></a>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from</em>&nbsp;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/chicago-amplified/a-conversation-with-u-s"><em>Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s</em></a>&nbsp;<em>vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Betty DeRamus spoke at an event presented by The Field Museum in February of 2006. Click</em>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/forbidden-fruit-love-stories-underground-railroad"><em>here</em></a><em>&nbsp;to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Follow Robin Amer on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Sat, 16 Feb 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/real-life-django-love%E2%80%99s-struggles-underground-railroad-105560 Philosophy and Sex http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2013-02/philosophy-and-sex-105392 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/love-images-wallpaper.jpg" style="height: 388px; width: 620px;" title="Philosophy and Sex (dailyscreens.com)" /></div><p>Arguably, Alain De Botton is the most widely read English language philosopher in the world. In fact, if you take into account how many languages his books have been translated into, he is perhaps the single most popularly read philosopher in the world today.</p><p>A big part of his popularity is that he has published on topics that are part of everyone&rsquo;s lives: anxiety, travel, architecture, religion and work. And now he has turned his attention to a topic that has been a &ldquo;source of needless neurotic frustration for most of human history&rdquo; &ndash; sex!</p><p>De Botton&rsquo;s new book, <em>How To Think More About Sex</em>, is not a sex manual that offers (philosophical?) insights on how to have more intense and better sex. Rather, it is a series of reflections on the general complexity of life and how all of us, to some degree or another, are unhappy with or unfulfilled in our sex lives. The goal of the book is to help us feel &ldquo;a little less painfully strange about the sex we are either longing to have or struggling to avoid.&rdquo;</p><p>Frankly, this is not a book I would give my wife, partner or lover on Valentine&rsquo;s Day. De Botton&rsquo;s thesis &ndash; though thoughtful and more than a little correct &ndash; is a downer.</p><p>Although De Botton recognizes that sex can be satisfying, sensational, and even transcendent, most of the time, he claims, it is pedestrian, purely functional or disappointing. To be fair, De Botton&rsquo;s argues that the problem isn&rsquo;t sex per se. Rather, he maintains that the demands and complexities of life make &ldquo;great sex&rdquo; hard to achieve &ndash; because we are all too busy, too engaged, too overwhelmed by too many other things in life.</p><p>Normal life, suggests De Botton, is the enemy of &ldquo;cupidity&rdquo; (eager desire). Work, children, responsibilities, stress, anxiety, drugs, alcohol, and the unavoidable loss of intimacy that is part of all long-term relationships equals the &ldquo;death of lust&rdquo; and the end of desire.</p><p>Sadly, De Botton seems to be in agreement with Goethe when he said: &ldquo;Love is an ideal thing, marriage is a real thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished.&rdquo; However, I choose to take away a different lesson from this book.</p><p>Rather than just offer us a comical and negative interpretation of sex and love, I think De Botton is offering us a cautionary tale. To wit: The most difficult task in life is getting like, love and lust all in one relationship.</p></p> Wed, 13 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2013-02/philosophy-and-sex-105392