One of our most popular posts, even nine months after it was published, is Hot Men in History, which links to a blog that publishes pictures of attractive men from history and a quirky, interesting descriptions of their accomplishments.
In honor of the continued popularity of this particular post, I’ve decided to do a short series of hot men and women from Mormon history. I’m not sure how long the series will be or how frequent the posts will be, but if you want to see someone covered, put their name in the comments and I’ll look them up and see if they fit the bill. As a warning, I’m not going to do one on Joseph Smith – it’s a bit too sacrilegious to me.
First up, Ina Coolbrith, cousin of Joseph F. Smith, librarian, and poet laureate of California.
Facts about Ina:
- Born to Don Carlos Smith and her mother Josephine in 1841
- After her father died, her mother married the prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. She felt neglected in the marriage, however, and went to live in Saint Louis, Missouri, after his death.
- Ina’s mother tried to conceal her Mormon past and used her maiden name throughout her life.
- During her long literary career, Ina corresponded with Mark Twain, John Muir, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Charles Warren Stoddard. Twain and Tennyson praised her work and called her “divinely tall, and most divinely fair.”
- During her work as a librarian, she mentored Isadora Duncan and Jack London.
A Sample from her poems:
A Last Word (To My Mother)
Not more removed with the long years ’increase,
Through hours when storms upon thy roof of clay
Have beat, or when the blossom of the May
Has to the fettered winter smiled release, -
Not from my heart one thought of thee could cease,
O loved and mourned to-day as on that day
When from my sight thy presence passed away,
Thou spirit of all gentleness and peace.
Nay, in the long, long ways I walk alone,
Still with me! On my brow thy touch is laid
Softly, – when all to great my burden grown . . .
And I shall go, serenly, unafraid,
Into the dark-well knowing what dear tone-
Whose hand to mine- O thou beloved shade!
A few days ago, the University of Michigan sent an e-mail to its students, faculty, and staff updating them on the police investigation of the recent rise of sexual attacks near campus. The women involved were attacked in stairwells, parking structures, and on the street. Although some of the attacks happened at night, at least one occurred in the afternoon as a woman went to a parking structure to get her car. Initially, the university’s response seemed inadequate and almost laughable. It urged young women to be careful and to never walk by themselves. It was as though most women were already worried about being attacked, and that it was up to us to make sure that we weren’t attacked. One of my friends, angered by the university’s response, posted the following guide to men on how to avoid sexually assaulting women. It began simply, “If you see a woman walking alone, don’t follow her. If she is wearing clothing you think are revealing, do not think that she deserves whatever she gets. And, no matter what happens, don’t rape her.”
As time passed, however, the university’s response got better. Officials at the university agreed to meet with one of my friends who was particularly concerned about what the campus’ response was going to be. She had been assaulted once in New York and was determined that the university should do everything in its power to prevent other young women from being assaulted after the reports initially began to circulate. The university has also sent out multiple e-mails about the investigation and was supportive of a Take Back the Night Rally.
I applaud the university’s response to the rapes, but I think we need to expand the way that we think about rape and the way in which we respond to it. Although the university’s efforts have been commendable, most rapes do not occur in parking lots, elevators, or staircases. They occur in apartments, bedrooms, and at parties. Most women are raped by men that they know, not by strangers. I would like to see campuses like the University of Michigan become more involved in preventing these everyday, more frequent types of rape. There needs to be education and activism to stop sexual violence within relationships and by acquaintances. Focusing too much on one type of rape without being equally vocal about the others spreads the misperception that the danger of being raped is one that exists primarily in the streets and not within the walls of your home and those of your friends.
Last week, I went to the exhibition “Books and Babies: Communicating Reproduction” at the University of Cambridge Library. The exhibition is a collection of prints, anatomical drawings, comic books, novels, and science texts from the medieval period to the present that attempt to understand human reproduction. Looking at them is a marvelous reminder that the way that we think about the body has changed over time. Continue reading
One of the things that is unavoidable in London is the Evening Standard, a free newspaper hawked by dozens of men and women standing in tube stations. Walk past King’s Cross, Tottenham Court Road, or Euston at any time during the day and someone is going to try to hand you a copy. Today on the train to Cambridge I grabbed a copy so that I had something to read on the approximately hour long journey. One of the articles was a fun yet nuanced look at the popularity of art depicting vaginas. Although I get squeamish even writing the word, I appreciated the artwork that was showcased. Continue reading
For the last couple of weeks, I have been doing research at Girton, the first women’s college in Britain. Located just outside of Cambridge and surrounded by acres of grass, trees, and gardens, the college was founded in the 1860s by Emily Davies, Barbara Bodichon, and a host of other Victorian feminists who were dedicated to the education of girls. The buildings are made of red brick and are a bit drafty, even in the midst of the British summer. The other day I found in the papers of Bessie Rayner Parkes a bit of information related to Mormonism. Parkes and her father were discussing a sex scandal involving one of their friends Emily Faithfull. Faithfull had been forced to take the stand in a divorce trial, in which she was accused of having improper relations with both the husband and the wife. Perhaps the oddest story to come from the trial was that the husband had crawled into bed with Faithfull and tried to have sex with her, while his wife was sleeping just inches away in the same bed. Continue reading
Michael Haycock is a rising senior at Yale, ostensibly graduating in political science but finding out how much he can skew that major toward religious studies. He maintains a personal blog, Not a Tame Lion.
Having seen a comment recommending Kathryn Soper’s article as an excellent example of a discussion of LDS modesty and standards (especially with regards to dress and other topics related to sexuality), I decided to check it out. What I found, while insightful in some ways, was disappointing in many more.
Of course, her subtitle makes it obvious that her focus is speaking about young women, and that she does well, pointing out that sexual desire is not the only instigation for sexual activity, but rather that intimacy, joy, fulfillment–and that ever-so-vague thing “love”–can also work towards fueling interest. While this is important to recognize, I think the things she dismisses show more about her conception of sexuality than her attention to a few nuances–and are symptoms of a perception that colors and damages our cultural, and Mormon, ideas of gender stereotypes, gender relations, and the complex issues of chastity and sexual impropriety. Continue reading
I have been reading Paul’s epistles as entire literary units, rather than half-heartedly plucking a verse or chapter here and there. I have been astounded by each epistle’s thematic coherence and by thematic continuities among the epistles. The epistle to the Hebrews was the first I read in this way.
Reflection 1: I loved the transformation of the high priest’s office into the office of Jesus Christ. As the high priest, Christ replaced stale legalism with a new covenant, one that was not built on the performance of particular rites but upon the “better testament” of Christ’s blood: “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (9:11-12). Continue reading