OTI Online
Winter 1998

Reader Feedback
Winter 1998


Not My Kind of Party

Judith Witherow's article, "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Myself!" [Fall1997] was right on target. It was a pleasure to read such clear and plain-spoken truths. Those of us who voted for Bill Clinton share responsibility for allowing him to continue to pursue his regressive policies, no matter what the alternatives were. Maybe next time Ms. Witherow will publicize her campaign so we can all vote for her.

 Dan Friedman, Takoma Park, MD

I loved Judith Witherow's article, "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Myself!" [Fall 1997]. She verbalized what so many of us are feeling. Bill Clinton, for all his intelligence, empathy, and heart, has failed us. He's like a man who dumps his girlfriend twenty miles out of town, tells her to walk home, and then has the audacity to say, "But don't forget, I'll always love you." Talk is cheap, and for the most part both Republicans and Democrats have stopped even talking about the issues that affect those of us who aren't wealthy, middle-class, or white men.

People of color, feminists, unionists, and low-income citizens must unite to make our voices heard. We demand better than what the Republicans and the Democrats are offering. Tom Wicker, in his insightful book Tragic Failure, suggests that a third party might be necessary. I agree. And I don't mean the Ross Perot kind; I want and need the Judith Witherow kind.

 Jesse Winter, Seattle, WA

Our Right to Make the Wrong Choice

I am surprised that a feminist, class-conscious magazine such as On The Issues would print the classist, self-absorbed piece by Kristin Bair ["Take No Prisoners: My Right to Legal Abortion" Fall 1997]. Bair seems to suggest that because she has degrees and muscles, listens to jazz and eats Thai food, her life is more valuable than the lives of those who shop at Sears and live in low-income suburbs with second-hand furniture.

I'd hate to imagine what anti-choice protesters would do with this article. I'm glad that Bair had access to legal abortion. But as she ranked thirty-second in her class, she should have had the sense to take advantage of the birth control that was widely available in the early 1980s. Abortions may be necessary to prevent women from becoming parents before they are ready for such a responsibility, but they should not be justified as a means for women like Bair to become cultured, meditate, and wear sexy dresses.

 Liza Feldman, Albany, NY

Animal Rights and Wrongs

I am so thrilled to see coverage of the plight of companion animals in a magazine devoted to womyn's issues ["Animals Escaping Domestic Violence" by Patricia Murphy, Fall 1997]. The link between cruelty to animals and cruel treatment of humans is documented only sporadically, yet every bit of printed information on this crucial subject is one step closer to prevention. I first learned of the connection several years ago, reading articles on the link between childhood cruelty to animals and subsequent abusive adult behavior. I am glad to see the topic now being covered in feminist literature as well. The tools needed to stop emotional and physical violence towards womyn are many, and education is one of the most vital. Thanks for providing it.

 Mary Clifford, Roanoke, VA

I was delighted to read Patricia Murphy's "Animals Escaping Domestic Violence." For several years, Feminists for Animal Rights have been helping to start foster care programs for the animals of battered women while the women are in a shelter. We have issued a pamphlet about how to start a foster care program in a community. Of course, one of the things that is necessary is for shelters to include questions about companion animals in their intake questionnaires: "Are there any pets at home?" "Has your partner ever threatened or injured a pet?" "Do any pets need shelter while you receive shelter?".

My own article on the subject, "Woman-Battering and Harm to Animals," appears in the anthology Animals and Women: Feminist Theoretical Explorations (Durham: Duke University Press 1995). Domestic violence practice has traditionally classified "destruction of pets" along with destruction of property as a single type of battering. In this article, I explain why destruction of property and injury to (or execution of) a pet must be seen as separate forms of battering. Moreover, harm to animals exposes the deliberateness of battering. Batterers often claim they "lost control" to explain their violent behavior toward their partners. However, the ways in which batterers are violent toward animals demonstrate their extreme control: they often make preparations, stretch out the animals' suffering, haul the children in to witness the injuring of an animal, and in other ways exercise deliberate control.

Further information is available by writing to Feminists for Animal Rights, PO Box 16425, Chapel Hill, NC 27516. A videotape about battering and harm to animals has been created by Don Jennings. For more information, write him at 422 East King Street, King, NC 27021.

Thank you for all the timely articles that appear in On The Issues.

 Carol J Adams, Richardson, TX


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