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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Nona Willis-Aronowitz will eventually need to grapple with the distinctions that serious feminists must face: between childhood & womanhood, between adventure & pornography, between humanity & degradation.

The unique desperation of 16-year-old rappers may then become decipherable to Ms. Willis-Aronowitz. These teens are born into total liberation from traditional commitment. Never have millions of mothers produced millions of infants unclaimed by the fathers, with the rootless violence and poverty that ravages children and teens in this uniquely awful situation. The teen rappers yearn for a sexual reformation, but Ms. Willis-Aronowitz offers them only a glib dismissal.

Further, beware the fickleness of her decree when she suggests: "Some women do feel a burden to be too sexual too early, and they should not be shunned for choosing otherwise." When she writes of "some women," she seems to mean pre-teen virgins. In those patronizing words, every female reader can recognize the smug tone of a Mean Girl who grants permission for one modestly-attired student to sit at the In-Crowd's lunch table.

Hannah Strauss

Baltimore, MD

Jul 28 2007 - 1:14am

Web Letter

Willis-Aronowitz writes, "Shalit's so-called 'rebels' amid our 'pornified' culture may be technically raging against the mainstream, but they are surely just repackaging age-old ideas as defiance.... Most retro about the call for modesty is that it once again implies that women's actions are somehow responsible for men's."

Is this a bad thing? The suggestion seems to be that "repackaging age-old ideas as defiance" is something we should all avoid doing--something that automatically invalidates the argument being made. And yet, is the age of the idea really what is at stake here? We can't write things off just because they are old. I certainly hope that a hundred or a thousand years from now feminists won't be spurned because the idea that women should be allowed to vote is, well, so "retro."

It is also important to note that the same criterion applies to new ideas as well as to old ones. Given that we shouldn't reject ideas simply because they are old, we ought naturally to treat new ones in the same way: with careful consideration, not off-the-cuff rejection. The age of an idea never determines its validity when used as the premise of an argument.

Allison Glasscock

Monmouth, OR

Jul 27 2007 - 4:30pm

Web Letter

Instead of running back into 1951 and recreating Leave it to Beaver-style fashions, and instead of, on the other hand, refusing to acknowledge that women can wear whatever they wish if they feel comfortable and sexy in it, these "authors" might examine for whom these fashions are being made and, more importantly, by whom these fashions are being made. Is it really a surprise that women's fashions are largely dictated by how they'll make women look for men? Are these "writers" oblivious to the heteronormative, phallocentric constitution of our social fabric, or are they knowing and just can't bring themselves to examine why they make the choices that they do?

Instead of imploring children to lock themselves into a sexual box, instead of telling them that sex is forbidden and dirty and wrong, why can't parents finally step up to the plate en masse and teach our children that sex is okay and natural and teach them the consequences of unprotected sex, teach them all things envolved in sex (emotions, feelings, mechanics, joys et cetera) and let them decide for themselves when the time is right? You'd be surprised how well children can grasp these facts when the information is presented to them, in lieu of "abstain or go to hell and become a social pariah." You'd be surprised the kinds of good decisions kids can make when they have all the facts.

You want to stop kids from sexualizing themselves too early? Don't buy them the clothing that makes them into adults before they're adults if that's what you're concerned with, but combine it with an explanation, combine it with not sexualizing everything, combine it with the giving our young girls the confidence in themselves and their bodies to refuse sex if they want, until they're ready, and to engage in sexual activity when it's time.

As for young males, stop telling them that real men frivolously have sex with anybody, that women are just notches, are just trophies, are meant to submit to their will. Teach them that women have rights and are to be respected.

Finally, teach our children that homosexuality is not apalling, shameful or deviant. Tell them that their feelings are not only okay, but will be accepted by you as a part of who they are. Nothing leads to confusion, unfullfilling promiscuity and angst more than feeling as if you cannot ever be good enough, than feeling as if you are worthless. Concealing the truth, masking information in the guise of religious doctrine, will only push our children away from us, not draw them closer.

Nick Schreiter

Appleton, WI

Jul 23 2007 - 1:27pm