PHOTO NATION DEBUT
The photographs by Eugene Richards prove the old adage that a picture is worth 1,000 words [“War Is Personal,” March 27]. His poignant text, in under 1,000 words, served to heighten the impact of his soul-searing photographs. These few photos jarred me as no bombed-out car or rows of sheet-draped bodies in Iraq could. Too bad the mainstream media don’t show more of the 16,000 wounded as they confront their “almost dead” bodies. That kind of photojournalism gets our attention and perhaps would quicken the return of more whole troops!
HARRIET RICHARDS (no relation)
Melrose Park, Pa.
Katha Pollitt’s eloquent tribute to Betty Friedan [“Subject to Debate,” Feb. 27] reminds us how much courage it took for Friedan to stand up for women in the early 1960s. More than twenty years earlier Friedan spoke out for another unpopular cause. She was a freshman at Smith College in 1938, when Hitler unleashed the Kristallnacht pogrom. Smith president William Allen Neilson urged the students to sign a petition asking President Roosevelt to let German Jewish girls enter the United States outside immigration quotas, to enroll at Smith. “A number of girls spoke against it, about not wanting any more Jews at Smith,” Friedan wrote in her memoir, Life So Far. There were four older, well-to-do Jewish girls in her dorm. “I expected them to speak up, but they didn’t. Finally, despite being only a freshman from Peoria, I spoke, urging that we open our doors to those girls fleeing persecution.” Sadly, the petition was rejected by a large margin.
In response to Katha Pollitt’s recent columns and her moving remarks on Betty Friedan, I write to add another perspective on the question of whether middle-class women are running away from careers into domesticity. Women of my generation and class who are putting careers on hold to devote themselves to family are not rejecting feminism. They are exhausted. Raising children while maintaining a career is incredibly draining, especially for women who do not have involved (or any) partners, flexible work schedules or affordable daycare. Even for those of us who do, balancing work and family is too much. The kids can’t be sent back, but the careers can, so domesticity wins. Some of us coming of age in the 1980s took Friedan and other second wavers too literally, believing we could, and should, “have it all.” As one second waver recently put it: “We said you could be anything, not everything.”