Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

The article shows again the prevailing double-standard that pertains to men and women. Even back in my high school days in the 1960s, boys that ran around, making numerous conquests, were looked up to as being studs. While the girls who were conquered, or had the audacity--the audacity, mind you--to sleep around, were derided as sluts.

What's brought these behaviors to the forefront is Americans insatiable appetite for LCD (Lowest Common Denominator) TV. The aptly named "boob tube" provides us with a non-stop feast of sordid tales of women gone wild. And we eat it up and clamor for more. Even the supposed "Best in the News" business, CNN, likes to wallow in the pathetic tales of the bimbo of the moment. One need to look no further than CNN's over-the-top stories on the tragic death of the former stripper Anna Nicole Smith. Or the paper of record, the NYT. We've got two wars going to hell in a hurry, yet the Times loves to give front page coverage to the latest idiocies committed by the likes of a Paris or Britnney.

Yes, we Americans are a cultured and sophisticated lot, reveling in matters that have a real impact on what America is doing and where we're going. Thankfully, journalistic titans such as CNN and the NYT keep the thought-provoking and informative news at bay. For that frees us up for much more important matters, like watching Entertainment Tonight or that next NASCAR race where we can use our razor-sharp minds to debate whether or not Dale Jr. is as good a driver as his Daddy. Our junk food for the brain.

Greg Bacon

Ava, MO

Aug 18 2007 - 6:43am

Web Letter

Reading the current web letters, after reading Chaudhry's latest, I am left to wonder: "Can women address the cultural issues and non-issues of the day from any premise other than victimization?"

All the letters and Chaudhry's writing assume that there is some set of cultural institutions that are somehow, magically, or even conspiratorially, forcing women to behave like Paris Hilton. These institutions are of course never identified; however, questions such as "don't women have the right to say no to promiscuity?" imply that there is some sort of institution forcing promiscuity on, for example, Paris Hilton. The concept that absurdly wealthy Los Angeles-based celebrities might simply wallow in a den of luxurious decadence is never considered by Chaudhry or any of her letter-writers. The presumption is that there is a vast conspiracy to force women to act like brain-dead high-school dropout mogul heiresses.

I, for one, wish that Chaudhry and all the "feminists" of the day would simply focus their collective efforts on basic social justice issues, which are, inconveniently, primarily in need of being fought on outside of the US.

Within the US, one of the best countries in the world to be a woman, authoring what amount to educated tirades about Paris Hilton, as if she is some sort of figure that younger women broadly admire, with the intent of associating the existence of rich and decadent airheads with some cultural institution forcing normal women into promiscuity, is silly. The only analysis Hilton warrants fits into the scheme of what Gilded Age economic policies produce in terms of behaviors and attitudes amongst the super-wealthy. There is no connection between the world the typical woman lives and works in and the drug-laced, luxurious fantasyland of Paris Hilton (or, for that matter, Norma Jean herself). The average young woman of the day, instead, is "oppressed" by a world in which, for example, the majority of college and university students are women, and in which an entire institution of women-only lending and granting operations still exists, subsidizing a trend that continues to make men a minority of educated citizens in our future. Hilton, a high-school dropout, has nothing to do with this real world that Chaudhry is apparently unaware of.

To Chaudhry et al.: if you intend to write on women in the US today, please can the "we're-such-victims!" routine. Such thinking and perceptions are woefully out of date, and only perpetuate the myths of female victimization and oppression in the US.

Seymour Friendly

Seattle, WA

Aug 17 2007 - 11:21am

Web Letter

The previous letter states "Men have exactly want they always wanted and more." I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean, exactly. I know that I don't have what I've always wanted, nor do I have more. Being a male, I guess I disprove the logical fallacy.

The letter also claims that feminist movement is responsible for the Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton as role model problem. Again, I'm not so sure. Lindsay and Paris are role models because they are wealthy, without conscience and have become that way without any discernable skills whatsoever. The problem here isn't feminist movement, it's greed and self-gratification, capitalist patriarchy and poor parenting. These elements aren't mutually exclusive.

So, instead of blaming feminists, many of whom endured unimaginable obstacles, for liberating women in the realm of the sexual, for allowing a woman to choose her partners, for shedding the figurative corset, can we start blaming the parents of our children? You want to stop women who act and dress like Lohan and Hilton from being held up as ideals, as lifestyle choices, start parenting your children. When they begin to show signs of materialism, don't buy them the often useless things that will lead them down that path. I repeat for effect: start parenting your children!

I cannot begin to tell of the mothers who come into retail stores with their daughters ready to buy them the very things they rail against, either to gain their love or acceptance, to stop them from complaining or even because they, themselves, suffer from the same consumerist disease. It's time to stop blaming other people for our children's having acquired the virus that is lazy consumer culture and to start looking within ourselves, both for fault and for answers.

We must be the change we wish to see in the world. Only when we truly become critics of what bell hooks calls "white supremecist capitalist patriarchy" can we understand and change this phenomenon and change ourselves.

Nicholas S. Schreiter

Appleton, WI

Aug 16 2007 - 12:18am

Web Letter

I appreciate the sentiments of this article, but am waiting for feminist like Oats and Wolfe to realize: We've steered a generation of women wrong.

Paris and Lindsay are the product of the feminist movement. This is what Gloria et al. wanted. Sexual freedom. Look what it's produced.

Not only is the old stereotype still in play with women like Diana, but the opposite is rolling out. Girls who act like whores and we admire them.

Is that really what the feminist movement wanted? Paris Hiltons and Lindsay Lohans being the role model for our daughters and granddaughters?

It's time to raise the bar. Where's the freedom to say No to sexual promiscuity? Where's the freedom to call these women into account, to respect themselves? Where's the freedom to challenge young women to be chaste without being prudes? Where's the freedom to not pole dance?

Men have exactly want they always wanted and more. We handed it to them on a silver platter. Women, on the other hand, are in more dire straights than ever. More fatherless homes. More abuse. More abortions. More economic hardship.

The feminist leaders need to review their fruit. It's not smelling or tasting too good.

As for Diana, she lived the life she contrived. She knew what she was getting into when she married Charles. She didn't love him any more than he loved her.

All her charity and good is overshadowed by her reckless life style.

Rachel Hauck

Palm Bay, FL

Aug 14 2007 - 10:23am

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