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OTI Online
Fall 2009

Letters to the Editor

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Marge Piercy Pens Poem on Heroines for New Issue

It's a great story, but I'm bothered by the fact that women .... particularly feminists .......are still using the word "heroines." The "ine," the "ess" and other such attachments to a word to make it be "female" are wrong wrong wrong, Those attachments are diminutives, subsets of the word, defining such as heroine as "a female hero." Aside from in this case Hero being a woman (Leander the man), why are we still being defined as subsets of men? I'm cc-ing Rosalie Maggio on this because she's written marvelous books on the subject of sexist vocabulary and I'm hoping we can get the word out.... maybe she'd write an article on the subject .... We've won lots of battles and lost a few. Language may just be our last uncharted frontier. best wishes and thanks for such an excellent publication.

Posted by: Joan Michel

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Betsy Hartmann's "The 'New' Population Control Craze: Retro, Racist, Wrong Way to Go" is way off base. Common sense tells us that more people means more demands on natural resources, and fewer resources left for other species.

If common sense isn't sufficient, the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change calls population growth one of the two main drivers of global warming. In their 2007 4th Assessment Report, they write:

"GDP/per capita and population growth were the main drivers of the increase in global emissions during the last three decades of the 20th century."

Crucially, the IPCC's projections for the next three decades see a continuation of this trend, under "business as usual."

Are the members of the IPCC "racists"? Or perhaps, do more people generate more environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions?

Posted by: Philip Cafaro, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Colorado State University

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Loretta Ross's article "Birthers and Birchers: Hiding Behind Stars and Stripes" is a malicious caricature of the John Birch Society and it contains malicious innuendo that the JBS is an organization with "nativist, racist tendencies."

It is obvious that Ms. Ross has no genuine factual knowledge about JBS beliefs or its membership characteristics.

For example:

(1) How does Ms. Ross explain the fact that hundreds of JBS members are African-American (or other minorities)?

(2) How does Ms. Ross explain the fact that the JBS Speakers Bureau has included such members of African-American OR latino descent as Rev. Steven L. Craft, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, Andy Ramirez, Wilton Alston, Sam Antonio, Julia Brown, Lola Belle Holmes and Gerald Kirk?

(3) How does Ms. Ross explain the fact that JBS member Rev. Delmar Dennis infiltrated the White Knights of the KKK of Mississippi and Rev. Dennis played a major role in the convictions of several Klan members. After Rev. Dennis surfaced as an FBI informant and testified, he was hired by the JBS as a Coordinator for the Society.

(4) And how does Ms. Ross explain the fact that the famous African-American writer and intellectual, George S. Schuyler, was a JBS member?

(5) How does Ms. Ross explain the fact that the former Senior Editor of the Birch Society magazine, William Norman Grigg, is of Mexican ancestry. Why would he be interested in working for a "nativist" or "racist" organization?

(6) How does Ms. Ross explain the fact that over the past 50 years the JBS has been endorsed by such prominent Americans as shown on the list appearing below? Does Ms. Ross think these individuals would be receptive to "racist" or "nativist" appeals?

* lawyers and legal scholars such as M.T. Phelps (former Chief Justice of the AZ Supreme Court; Clarence E. Manion, former Dean of the Notre Dame Law School)

* Hollywood actors like Walter Brennan, John Wayne, Zasu Pitts, and Adolphe Menjou

* famous novelists, authors, columnists, such as Taylor Caldwell and George Schuyler

* prominent politicians such as Charles Edison (former Gov. of New Jersey), Meldrim Thompson (former Gov. of NH), J. B. Lee (former Gov. of UT), and, Congressmen John Rousselot, Edgar W. Hiestand, Thomas H. Werdel, and James B. Utt (CA), Ron Paul (TX), Howard Buffet (NE), James Simpson Jr. (IL), Kit Clardy (MI)

* CEO's of major corporations and prominent officials of the National Association of Manufacturers

* former FBI Special Agents such as Dan Smoot and W. Cleon Skousen

* former FBI informants such as Matt Cvetic, Delmar Dennis, Julia Brown, Lola Belle Holmes, Gerald W. Kirk, and Ruth Gordienko

* former high-ranking military officers such as Brig. Gen. Bonner Fellers, Brig. Gen. Richard B. Moran; Lt. Gen. Edward M. Almond, Brig. Gen. William L. Lee, Lt. Gen. George E. Stratemeyer, Maj. Gen. Robert Blake, Lt. Gen. Sumter L. Lowry, Maj. Gen. Charles A. Willoughby, and Lt. Gen. Charles B. Stone; Col Laurence E. Bunker; Vice Admiral C.S. Freeman, Rear Admiral Paulus P. Powell, and Vice Admiral T.G.W. Settle.

* prominent U.S. diplomats and government officials including: U.S. Ambassador Spruille Braden, U.S. State Department historian Bryton Barron, and IRS Commissioner T. Coleman Andrews

* religious figures and editors of religious journals including Cardinal Cushing of Boston, Richard Ginter, Francis E. Fenton, and Mormon Church leader Ezra Taft Benson

So -- in view of all this data, I am curious how Ms. Ross arrived at her conclusion that the JBS has "racist" or "nativist" tendencies?

Posted by: Ernie Lazar

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thank you for your profile(Fall 2009) of Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility. As a former Assistant Principal in the NYC BOARD of Education, and now an experienced Staff Developer training and coaching teachers in Morningside Center approaches to creating caring classroom communities, I have experienced first-hand the dramatic, measurable difference that social emotional learning makes in the lives of children, their families, and their communities. I think I can say that fellow staff developers also bring similar passion and tested strategies to our work with children, teachers, and parents. Your article honestly captures the vital vision and work of Morningside Center. Kudos!

Posted by: Cora

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I loved Eleanor Bader's article Beginning with the Children! It does a great job of describing the work of my organization, Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility. More importantly, it draws a vivid picture of what can happen when we give kids a safe place where they can tell their stories and learn skills to help them stand up for themselves and others. Every child should have this chance!

Posted by: Laura McClure

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I am a gay man. I am on the Committee of the Eastern Cape Gay & Lesbian Association in South Africa. I recently encountered your magazine through the good offices of the President of ECGLA who is a TransSex woman and a dear friend.

Thank you for speaking out! The account of the life of Martha Coventry (Fall 2009) brought me to tears and they were tears of frustration because I felt that there was little or nothing than could be done to affect/alter/stop the process of what is being done to the young of so-called civilized nations.

But, of course, I am wrong! Every time someone like me speaks out against what is happening there is a minute pressure on the brake pedal. Enough pressure and such injustice can be halted.

We are taught right from wrong as children. Every time one encounters the "wrong" a woman or man has the duty to point out the "right" in a myriad of ways.

Thank you for teaching me not to be so complacent!

Alan Edwards

Posted by: Alan Edwards

September 4, 2009

Just now found On The Issues online!!
I was a subscriber to your print edition.


Any way to contribute, too?

Posted by: Lauren Brightwell

Dear Lauren: We're glad you found us, too. And, there are several ways that you can contribute. We continually add fresh commentary in the Cafe (click on the coffee cup at the top of the Home page). There, we publish 600-800 word selections -- essays, op-eds, articles, reviews -- from writers, artists and thinkers on the topic of each edition. For example, the topic now is "Our Genders, Our Rights." If you have an idea for the Cafe, email submissions@ontheissuesmagazine.com. Second, make sure that you enter your email address in the box above "Sign Me Up" on the left column of the Home page. Then you'll get periodic updates and announcements of our upcoming topics, and can contact us with suggestions early in the process. Finally, you can contribute by helping us to spread the word. We don't have a list of e-mail addresses of print subscribers like you. We have to rely upon word-of-mouth, so let your friends and colleagues know about OnTheIssuesMagazine.com and post our articles on your blogs, e-lists and social networking sites. Sharing your enthusiasm for feminist and progressive commentary is the best contribution of all! The Editors.

September 1, 2009

Linda's interview with Elisabeth Sackler is excellent. I interviewed Sackler several years ago and was delighted to see that she has carried forward with her goals. I particularly enjoyed the Patricia Cronin exhibit and will be interviewing the artist for Gay and Lesbian Review in connection with her show and catalogue Raisaonne; Harriet Hosmer: Lost and Found. A fascinating exercise in linking lesbian art and artists across the centuries.

Linda's staticstics tell us all we need to know about NOT equal things are in the worlds of art and art history. Let's hope On The Issues and the Sackler Center can right some of these wrongs and give a fuller picture of feminism, art and history not to mention assure social justice.

Posted by: Dr.Cassandra Langer

August 19, 2009

I had a conversation with a young woman who is expecting twins...her long term relationship with the father ended at almost the same moment that the pregnancy began. She has a decent job in an area where good pay for women is $11 per hour. Average rent for a small apt. or house is around $800. This young woman has crunched the numbers in every way she can and has come to the realization that even with the $500 per month child support the father will be required to pay she will not be able to support herself and two children. Childcare alone would break the bank.

She asked me what feminist have achieved...certainly not equal pay and certainly not the choice of joining the workforce or staying home to raise her children....today women are expected to work to help
support the family and that it isn't just an expectation it is a necessity. She went on to say that before women entered the workforce, men were paid a wage that allowed them to keep a roof over his family's head and that for most men the American Dream was a reasonable expectation. But now, she went on, it is expected that a woman work because men no longer make a wage that will allow for achieving the American Dream without a two worker household. She then pointed out that if indeed feminist had fought for affordable, good, childcare they had failed. Childcare for infants is almost non-existent and childcare in general is expensive and good childcare very hard to find.

I had no good answers for her, at least none that I could point to that would alleviate the financial problems she is facing. The real sad part of this story is that she is looking at adoption -- giving her children to another couple because she can't afford them and can't foresee her things changing for herself unless she meets a man who will help support her and her children -- and she asks, doesn't that just lead us back to the same place we were in the 50s & 60s?

I wonder.

Posted by: Julie

August 18, 2009

Few could imagine how tired I am of reading mindless repetition of the party line "subordinated the female to the male," as Mahin Hassibi did in his (her?) editorial "Bogus Beliefs ...." This axiom would be laughable were it not for it's wide acceptance, reminiscent of the phrase I heard about half a century ago, "negroes are inferior to Homo Sapiens." The simple fact is that some people dominate other people. The perception Hassibi uses as foundation is fed by our putting domination of a person who happens to be female by one who happens to be male on the front burner while putting the reverse on the back burner. We also have a cultural expectation that domestic or sexual violence is shameful if the woman is hurt, but cometic with the shoe on the other foot.

If we were to restrict the discussion to Western Civilization and set aside non-social activities such as work or the sciences, a naive observer would see something completely different from the expectations expressed here. Take the beach, for example. Look at what the men are wearing and take away color and pattern. The result is a virtual uniform, short trousers. In formal wear, essentially all we have is the Tux. In the social world, where we spend our most important personal time, the domination is the reverse of what Hassibi presents.

Further, it isn't even about sex, in my opinion. Sex in social situations is more kin to money in poker; it's a way of keeping score. The underlying need is for validation. In particular, it is validation with respect to sexuality, sensuality, desirability, vulnerability and innocence. In these aspects of the human condition, women are the gatekeepers of validation for men. While we men might well be a validator to a certain extent for women, we shower with praise even while receiving virtually nothing back. We men are buyers in a sellers' market; concentrating on the supposed domination of men over women leads to a blissful ignorance of the concerns of half our population. If you prick us, do we not bleed?

Posted by: Jim Nibblett

August 7, 2009

I must commend Eleanor Bader on her excellent article entitled "Trans Health Care Is A Life and Death Matter." It was refreshing to see someone tackle this subject.

In regards to prevalence of transsexualism based on actual numbers of gender reassignment surgeries performed, though, I would encourage the author, researchers, and readership to look to the research of Lynn Conway, summarized here, and with a published report presented at WPATH.

These articles show through simple mathematics that the prevalence rate of MTF transsexuals is much closer to 1 in 2500 rather than the oft quoted 1 in 10,000.

I also challenge personally the assumption that the prevalence rate of transsexualism among XX bodied individuals is lower than that of XY bodied individuals. To be honest, surgeries for men in this community including mastectomy and genital restructuring are barbaric at best and are not at all comparable to the much better female surgeries such as vaginoplasty, breast augmentation, etc (which themselves could be so much better). This combined with other factors make our transmasculine community seem smaller than the transfeminine community, which I personally believe is a falsehood.

Anyway, I hope that readers and researchers will carefully consider Lynn Conway's work as it sheds new light on prevalences that we need to take to heart.

Posted by: Katy Stewart

See editors response, below the letters

August 2, 2009

I think OTI is marvellous and rely heavily on it - but it is a shame it is no longer available in hard copy not just for the pleasure of it but for the visibility and passing on quality of it and its issues. What I mean is that it has become easier and easier to ghettoise issues into internet corners that preach to the converted. It is harder and harder to find gendered content in national mainstream print or broadcast media. I know I now go to 2 or 3 key feminist blogs/websites for my gender content. They are great but only 2 or 3 years ago, limited as it was, I could find some gendered content in national broadsheet media. If we had On the issues in hard copy we could read it in public places, leave it on trains and at bus stops, hand over a copy of the magazine for someone to skim an article right there and then. A web reference is not the same as it has to be sent and accessed by technology and is likely only to be accessed by someone who really wants to read it and is interested in it. Hard copy is much easier to force something into someone's consciousness and visibly demonstrate that, in the case of feminism, people are feminists, are reading it, are concerned and are not ashamed - vital in a climate that uses feminism as a dirty word. We can make it easier for people to engage with feminism if we are visibly engaging it with ourselves - hard copy print media is marvellous for this.

Posted by: xxmkn

Reply from the editors: We're delighted that you find provocative gendered content here. We also loved On The Issues Magazine as a print publication (1983-1999). Unfortunately, the costs became prohibitive. Printing and mailing were subsidized by a single health care clinic- Choices Women's Medical Center - but at half a million dollars per year with losses of $250,000 annually, the publication couldn't be sustained. Now, the Internet offers exciting opportunities for revival. While we still have many costs in maintaining the site and an editorial staff, it is possible to use new technology to keep strong feminist conversations thriving. And this way anyone with a printer is empowered to hand out her favorite stories to colleagues, classes -- and even at the bus stop. So take liberties ... we approve!

I am a UK based reader so this may be a naive point to make but it seems to me the US has to be made to engage with parental paid leave if we are to address feminist concerns in the US. On your broader question of feminist priorities I think we need to look at religious fundamentalisms of whatever faith and impact for women, LGBT, young people and secular members within religious communities, recession and gender, climate change/resource wars and gender. I am extremely conscious that in all areas women's rights are not mainstreamed and will not be addressed indeed will be traded off even though women will be disproportionately impacted by them.

Posted by: heather harvey

I appreciated Rhonda Copeland's article on DV as torture however I felt the tone of it was wrong. It read as though this was an argument yet to be made, whereas it is a well accepted doctrine already - the problem as with so many women's rights issues is how to implement it,make it stick and have it widely accepted and understood and enforced. State responsibiity for non state actor abuse relying on the due diligence doctrine has been used by womens' rights activists to demonstrate state responsibiity for DV etc since the early 90's. It was a huge achievement to make and have accepted that argument at that time. Indeed it was only after women's rights activists made this case successfully that Amnesty International, which targets state abuse, eventually started to include women's rights abuses including violence in the family and community in its reports and launched a stop violence against women campaign. Women's human rights victories are few and far between and easily retrenched upon. We do not need to present this as an argument to make, thereby allowing people to argue the principle back again from first base, rather we need to present it as an argument already made but requiring implementation otherwise we take ourselves back 20 years. Those in opposition to us will fight hard enough anyway without us giving them a space to re argue old battles we have already won.

Posted by: heather harvey

About equal pay, I agree with the letter writer who urged us to take up that struggle again. It should be with the same passion as some of us worked for it decades ago. BUT the goal should not be limited to attaining equal wages. We should revive the broader and more basic cause of equal pay for work of equal value.

Posted by: Ginny NiCarthy

I was relieved to read Lu Bailey's article on "self-objectification," chosen by young so-called feminists. I have fallen silent after too many discouraging arguments with young women, some of them close relatives, who refuse to see what I call their "hooker-style" dress as a cop out. They see my position as the sour grapes attitude of unsexy old age. It is discouraging to see the beneficiaries of our struggle take minor improvements in women's status for granted---and then
undermine them for the sake of a cheap, brief illusion of power.

Posted by: Dorothy Bryant

Please accept our deep and sincere condolences on the loss of Dr. Tiller.

You may wish to know that we have just registered the first and only national Family Planning Association in Somaliland and am sharing with you our website which is still under development : www.SOFPA.org

It took me two years to get it past the government formalities and had a lot of explanations to do. I used all my clout and connections to get it registered and approved.

Now that we exist, we have no funds to get set up and start activities. At present, I have given them space in our hospital and let them use our hospital equipment. We would also welcome technical support for conducting training for our staff.

With best regards,

Edna Adan Ismail

I agree completely. I did AB referrals and set up a Federal Court lawsuit in Oklahoma in 1970. It is just as true now as ever. I'm totally with you on this.

I'm a correspondent now in San Francisco covering the nuke weapons labs.

Resist. Fight. Win.
Never Quit.

Bob Nichols
Project Censored Award Winner
San Francisco Bay View newspaper

In this time of trouble when more men than women are losing their jobs and the woman becomes sole support of the family, we need "equal pay for equal work" more than ever. Or are we forced to believe that the radicals among us are truly trying to supress the middle income families until they become members of the working poor, earning minimum wage, subservient to the wealthiest among us? Many women would prefer to stay home and raise their children, and then return to work when the children are grown. The current suppression of the middle class makes this no longer a choice. A great number of women must return to work to help support the family, and equal pay for equal work should no longer be in question.

Sarah Murnen
Kalkaska, MI
May 27, 2009

You are doing a wonderful job writing about the many topics that women do not want to discuss. I applaud you
and I do discuss sexuality with women of all ages, I will also share you magazine with my business.If it were not for women the popluation would be zero so why not enjoy the gift.

Best Wishes
Rose Briggs
May 18, 2009

I live in Montreal and I've just discovered On The Issues online. It's really intelligent and fascinating, I'm so glad to have found it. Do you know if the magazine is stocked anywhere in my city? I can't find it. Or do you only publish online?

Elsa Panciroli
May 8, 2009

Ed: We’re online! From 1983-1999 On The Issues Magazine was a print publication and those archives are online, as well. The online edition began in April 2008.

As always "On The Issues" is informative , thought provoking, and a Feminist Voice that speaks loud and clear about the realities affecting Women's lives around the world. I read the acticle MOBILIZING FOR REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE written by Loretta Ross and I am in total agreement. . Women Of Color will have to continue to organize our communities in large and significant numbers in order to influence and exercise our power.Plain and simple.

Judith Freeman

He should have been in Zambia when I was, and 1 in 3 were dying from AIDS, and the only growth industry was coffins, and employers hired two people for every job because they knew one would die, and the streets were full of starving kids, many of them children of judges, lawyers, teachers, etc. all of whom had succumbed to this plague!


I send you greetings from Somaliland where we will also be celebrating the 7th anniversary of the opening of our hospital on the 9th of March.

During the seven years that we have been working, we have delivered nearly 9000 women and treated an additional 7500 other sick patients -- proof that you can serve humanity even under the hard situations that we ofetn have to work through.

-Edna Adan Ismail
Founder, Maternity Hospital of Somaliland
March 7, 2009

See: The Terror of Motherhood in Somaliland and Women's Rights to Safe Care by Edna Adan Ismail in the Fall 2008 edition of On The Issues Magazine.

A recent article by Diana Egozcue on a strategy to pass the ERA in Virginia said that a website would be up shortly. It would be good for your readers to know one already exists even though we're hoping to have a fancier one in the future.:

There is a website to support the ERA in VA. It's: https://sites.google.com/site/4erava/Home

There is also a networking yahoogroup for the ERA in VA. People can subscribe by sending a blank post to:

-Freeda Cathcart
Roanoke, VA

I enjoyed Frances Kissling's article on masculine-dominated religion, and have always admired her work.

However I was surprised that she didn't address the importance of revisioning the Divine in female form, when this form has been either forbidden as heretical or blasphemous, or defined down by male theologians.

Room for diverse divine images, oh yes. But not "gods" alone. As long as Goddess is unthinkable and unsayable, female power is ruled out from the very important realm of the symbolic, the stories we tell. For more on this, see my article "The Meanings of Goddess" online.

-Max Dashu,
the Suppressed Histories Archives

I am actually quite amazed with how much response the article (Anti-Immigrant Fervor Translates to Terror for Women) has received. So exciting! Thank you for the opportunity.

-Melissa Nalani Ross
Director, Campaign for a United America, Center for New Community

I'm so glad you're reviving OTI. It was an important documentation of what we did back in the "good old days."

I'm happy that you put the old copies on the Internet. It is important to preserve this history. I will send your memo to Oklahoma feminists, as well as feminists on a national list.

-Barbara Santee

So glad to see the return of On the Issues! As a little girl, I read the magazine every time I visited my grandmother's house. Occasionally, if the stars aligned, she was in a good mood, I had behaved, AND she had finished reading it herself, then she'd let me take the current issue home to keep and reread.

On the Issues was how I learned about poets like Marge Piercy, artists like Anke Feuchtenberger and issues like FGM. It was a very eye-opening magazine for me.

I'll be reading eagerly in the months to come. And I'll be spreading the word -- nay, proclaiming the good news! -- to all my friends.

-Stephanie Young Liederman

HURRAH! Like a phoenix, you have arisen!

-Ellen Snortland

How did I manage to get through the last 25 years without stumbling upon your magazine? I've been doing radical feminist work for all this time. I remember Sojourner and Off Our Backs among others. Anyway, I am sooooooooo glad to have found you now! Thank you!

-A Reader

I'm so glad On the Issues is back -- thank you Merle and all its parents!

Gloria Steinem


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