OTI Online
Winter 1999

OTI Feedback

Emma Thompson Inspires and Provokes

Fabulous magazine. I am sending a check to subscribe. I picked up a copy in Sylva, North Carolina, after seeing Emma Thompson's picture on the cover [Fall 1998]. I had heard she was making a movie about Victor Jara, and I was wondering how I might find out more about that.
      Thank you so much for the great magazine you put out. I'll look forward to future issues.

Chuck Brodsy, Asheville, NC

Emma Thompson [The World's Her Stage Fall 1998] says she "likes human beings who have suffered. They're kinder." If only that were true, there'd be a lot of kind people in the world! But it isn't true: All victims do not become perpetrators, but all perpetrators were once victims. (Adolf Hitler was a severely battered child; most, if not all, sexual abusers were themselves sexually abused as children.) Suffering does not inherently make people good; it's all in how you deal with it. Victims who consciously deal with their victimization and don't internalize it will probably end up empathizing with other victims; but victims who internalize, repress, and deny their experience are very likely to repeat with others the same cruelty they were subject to.

Judith Antonelli, Brookline, MA

Truth in Movies Needed

Regarding Margaret Morganroth Gullette's article proposing that feminists boycott movies showing violence against women ["Reel Danger," Fall 1998] -- I understand and support her outrage at the misogyny in our culture. I too have walked out of movies too violent or too sexist to endure. But I think we need to be wary of focusing only on details. The context does make a difference.
      It's sad but true that assault, rape, and murder are real-life experiences; they're not just movie themes. Women who have experienced domestic violence or child abuse have a right to have their stories told. They should not be asked to remain silent, as if it didn't happen or they were ashamed it happened to them. Being a witness is an important part of feminism, and the arts have a role to play in that process.
      My own theory is that men generally like movies in which the main character is either the detective or the perpetrator. They denigrate movies that show the victimÕs perspective because they don't want to (or can't) imagine themselves in that position.
      But let us tell the truth. As Primo Levi, a survivor of the Holocaust, said, "Silence is complicity." The answer is not to demand violence-free movies but to support feminist directors and playwrights who tell the truth about women's lives even when it's ugly.

Jesse Winter, Seattle, WA

OTI Pumps Up the Brain Cells

I just received my sample issue, and I must say that I am delighted with the magazine. After a few years of being "out of it" and just dealing with my life at hand, I was in a void and desperately needed something to get me back into feminism and to get my mind and enthusiasm working again. Thanks for bringing us your magazine!

Tina Yeamans, Salt Lake City, UT

Sad about Millett, but Also Disappointed

I thought other readers would share my feelings about Kate Millett's essay ["Out of the Loop and Out of Print," Summer 1998], but apparently not. As a 20-year veteran of academia, I'm appalled at the exploitation of temporary and part-time faculty, many of whom deserve, and would be able to contribute much more in, secure, full-time teaching positions. I also know that many women's studies program, including my own, are trying to correct the situation by pressuring administrators to convert part-timers to full-time and by creating their own endowed professorships. Any women's studies program would be thrilled to receive an application from someone as well known and valued as Kate Millett.
      I do not have the slightest idea why she's been unable to find the place she wants in academia. Still, each of us makes choices, and experiences successes and failures that lead to further choices, and time passes. I'm sad that Millett's brilliance is no longer being rewarded as it should be, and that she's unhappy with her present situation, but I'm terribly disappointed that she's so bitter and resentful.

Kathleen Preston Knight, Teasdale, UT

New Empathy for Afghan Women

Responding to a trial offer of On The Issues, I received the Summer 1998 issue. If it had contained no other article but Jan Goodwin's report Buried Alive: Afghan Women under the Taliban, I would still subscribe, and after I told a friend about it, she, too, will subscribe.
      Never before have I been so affected by the plight of women outside my own nation. I cannot forget them. I imagine myself, as I go through my daily routines, wearing a burqa veil. I feel in a new and powerful way the contrast between my freedom as an American woman, which sometimes I take for granted, and the oppression of my gender in another nation. I commend you for your courage and insight in publishing that article. You have done a great service to womankind.

Glenna E. Cook, Tacoma, WA

Cheers & Jeers for Clinton Condemnation

Finally! A voice of sanity in the world [What's a Feminist To Do? by Merle Hoffman, Summer 1998]! I thought I was the only real feminist left.
      I'm going to "buy" the word feminist and copyright it, and people will have to check with me before they can use it. You can use it any time you like, free of charge. Thank you for an articulate well-written article!

Kim McCarten, via E-mail

It's quite obvious that reports on the Clinton "sex scandal" are a convenient cover for some political scheme. The only truth about lying is that everybody lies. Some other truths are: Sex is natural; celibacy is not hereditary; and most importantly, politicians are not spiritual leaders. If America wants such a leader, then hire the Dalai Lama or the Pope. Those individuals who live in glass houses in Washington, D.C., and in their home states should be mindful of their own sexual encounters before passing judgment. How many affairs has Ken Starr had, how many partners has Newt Gingrich entertained, how many media reporters are sinless, etc.? If it became necessary to cleanse government of sexual activity, then Washington would be a ghost town.
      We hired William J. Clinton, the politician, and he's a damn good political leader!

Halina Biernacki, Cheektowaga, NY

Motherhood Is a Feminist Issue

Westry Green's "Loving Long-Distance: Notes from a Lesbian Mom" [Summer 1998] is a chilling account of the state of motherhood today. This woman has truly lived a nightmare, and I can only marvel at the strength she has maintained for the sake of her son, a child ripped out of the arms of his mother to be raised by a misogynist homophobe.
      It is clear to me that the usurpation of motherhood is among the most important challenges we, as feminists, face today. Some shy away from the issue, claiming that to recognize women's life-creating abilities would somehow be an admission of "inequality." I fail to see how recognizing such a unique and vital ability would entitle women to fewer rights. Surely the fact that women can have children is a strength and not a weakness, as long as motherhood remains voluntary. Women who fail to realize this are only harming themselves, and I urge the feminist community, if they wish to attack the heart of the patriarchy, to start by helping women like Westry Green.

Tracye Sine, Owens Cross Roads, AL

Female Muscles Not to Be Feared

In her article "Hollywood Downsizes Women" [Spring 1998], Molly Haskell commends Helen Hunt and Pam Grier for not selling out to the Hollywood notion that leading ladies must appear young and beautiful in order to receive a part. (Funny that Hollywood should mirror society's notion of how women must appear in order to receive credit or have value.) It seems contradictory, then, that Ms. Haskell admits that "the vision of Demi Moore, in the film G.I. Jane, pumping iron makes me a little uncomfortable."
      Hello. Molly, have you ever walked into a health club? Perhaps you were too busy pumping ink to notice what's been going on for years.
      As for women going to war, I have a problem with anyone coming home in a body bag, given that war is an exercise in futility. But is it better that we stay home only to be treated by men as the enemy, than go to war alongside them as equals?
      The world has miraculously survived the threat of women becoming stronger mentally, emotionally, and even politically, but there remains the threat of women gaining corporeal strength that the world, according to Molly just might not be ready to handle. I can understand (but never condone) men's desire to hold on to their last bastion of hope for claiming privilege and power over women (i.e. their testosterone-induced greater physical strength). But shame on you, Molly Haskell, for helping these men keep women limited to their role as soft, physically weak little creatures, thereby invalidating those women who cannot, or choose not to, conform to such a role.

Kathleen J. Thomas, Arvada, CO

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