“How Women Are Viewed In This World” – 2012

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 1, 2012:

“Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin is apologizing for comments he made about his assistants’ wives.

“Franklin, attending the SEC annual meeting in Destin, Fla., this week, said he will not hire an assistant coach unless he has a good-looking wife.

“In an interview with Nashville radio station 104.5 The Zone, Franklin responded to a question about whether it helps a coach in recruiting to have a good-looking wife.

” ‘I’ve been saying it for a long time, I will not hire an assistant coach until I’ve seen his wife,’ he said. ‘His wife, if she looks the part and she’s a D1 recruit, then you got a chance to get hired.

” ‘I mean, that’s part of the deal.  There’s a very strong correlation between having the confidence, going up and talking to a woman, and being quick on your feet and having some personality and confidence and being fun and articulate, than it is walking into a high school and recruiting a kid and selling him.’

“Franklin later went on Twitter to say he was sorry.”

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Below are my responses on May 31 and June 1, 2012,  on a local journalist’s blog from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, to Coach Franklin’s remarks, above.

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“Wrong values. Evidently, Franklin Roosevelt placed more priority on substance than on looks when he chose Eleanor Roosevelt to be his wife, and she helped him to reach higher in establishing human and civil rights for all citizens than he might have achieved with another woman as his partner. Eleanor Roosevelt has had lasting impact upon this nation and this world even though some considered her to be less than physically perfect. That Franklin Roosevelt chose Eleanor spoke well for his depth. If Vanderbilt’s Chancellor does not address this statement by this coach, Vanderbilt, itself, will have lost some degree of credibility.

I hope that young women, today, will reject this kind of vapid thinking from shallow men and place priority upon becoming all that they are capable of becoming to make a positive impact in the world. I hope that they will, also, seek men of substance, and that men of substance will, likewise, seek women of substance to be their life partners.”

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“This isn’t simply about Vanderbilt or sports. It is about how women are viewed in this world.”

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” @ Mary Elizabeth, you need to do more research on FDR. your view of him/that marriage is far more romantic than real.”

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No, my words regarding the marriage of FDR and Eleanor were spot on. I never claimed that their marriage was ideal, but it was ‘real,’ in the ways in which I had described it to be. I am very aware of Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd’s affair with FDR which Eleanor discovered in 1918, after having been married to FDR for 13 years and having borne him six children, five of whom survived. (I am also aware of the fact that FDR may have later had an affair with his private secretary, Missy LeHand, although that has not been proven.) Eleanor had offered FDR a divorce after the Mercer affair but Franklin’s mother objected and Franklin decided he did not want to break up his family nor ruin his political career. Eleanor agreed to remain in the marriage if FDR never saw Lucy Mercer again. Franklin agreed. They were never sexually intimate again, however.

I do not see any of these players in history as caricatured, cardboard figures. The fact that FDR was unfaithful does not negate the substance within the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt marriage, imo. He relied upon her. They loved one another in evolving ways. And that love evolved over the years from simply a romantic love to a bond of deeper substance that effected millions of people for the better. Eleanor was his legs where he could not go. She had fought his mother for his right to continue a political career after his polio because she knew that he must continue contributing in the political arena and not simply withdraw from life, (and this was after the Mercer affair). She did not wilt away after knowledge of the affair and became a woman of stature in her own right. When the Democratic convention was split apart over FDR’s choice of VP in one of his terms, he called Eleanor and asked her to fly across the country to address the convention. The transcendent vision she had for the Democratic Party rallied the Democratic delegates to unite for a cause greater than their petty bickerings. She was revered by those delegates as they applauded her speech and they, thereafter, selected FDR’s choice for running mate and the “show went on.” FDR praised his wife in private, after that.

When Eleanor was 19 and Franklin was about 20, he fell in love with Eleanor who was a “tall willowy young woman” who had been educated in England, exposed to society’s social problems there, and had traveled throughout Europe. She was unlike the other debutantes in New York. She had asked him to join her in her charity work among the very poor immigrants of the lower East Side of NYC. That changed him, forever, and he sought Eleanor – precisely because of her substance – to become his wife.

When FDR died in his Warm Springs home in Georgia, Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd was with him as well as a cousin. The meeting had been arranged by FDR’s and Eleanor’s daughter, Anna. When Eleanor arrived to take his body by train back to Washington, DC, the cousin told Eleanor of the presence of Lucy Rutherfurd and that it had been arranged by Anna for FDR. Eleanor said, later, that she had felt betrayed by both her husband and her daughter and that she had been deeply saddened because of what they had done. However, being the calibre of woman that she was, Eleanor also said that she had been able to place that situation in its correct perspective, later, because she had realized, upon reflection, that a part of FDR needed the charm, and joy, that Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd had brought to his life. She wrote that she, also, had realized that she was meant to be the conscientious force behind Franklin that prodded him on to greater public service for the underprivileged and disenfranchised. Both the charming and the substantive were a part of FDR’s spirit. I do not conceive of marriage as a cookie-cutter, one-dimensional plan for every human being. My previous post was not mainly about FDR and Eleanor; thus, I had to limit my words to demonstrate how their relationship was relevant to the shallow words of the coach at Vanderbilt. Please, reread my words regarding their marriage, from my earlier post, and tell me, now, if you disagree that what I had written was not, also, true and ‘real’ of Franklin and Eleanor’s marriage. (Btw, I was glad to read that you essentially agreed with my position regarding the Vanderbilt situation.)

From my 10:24 pm, 5/31/12 post:

‘Evidently, Franklin Roosevelt placed more priority on substance than on looks when he chose Eleanor Roosevelt to be his wife, and she helped him to reach higher in establishing human and civil rights for all citizens than he might have achieved with another woman as his partner. Eleanor Roosevelt has had lasting impact upon this nation and this world even though some considered her to be less than physically perfect. That Franklin Roosevelt chose Eleanor spoke well for his depth.’ ”

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