Red Hook, NY
Thanks to Katha Pollitt [“Subject to Debate,” July 17/24] for a smart and sophisticated review of my ideas, but no thanks to the implication that I took my ideas from Rhona Mahony without crediting her. (“This crucial insight [that early decisions make later choices inevitable] was not originally Hirshman’s but Rhona Mahony’s, in her brilliant 1995 Kidding Ourselves, on which Hirshman rather heavily relies.”) Thankfully for Western culture, the concept of causation did not actually originate in Mahony’s late-twentieth-century book Kidding Ourselves. Nonetheless, the book was brilliant and an important inspiration to me. Accordingly, not only do I explicitly cite Mahony on page 57 of my book for the one idea that is truly and clearly no one’s but hers (find a sharing spouse by marrying down), but in my second reference to her in the bibliography, I say, “Nothing in my book would have been possible without the groundbreaking work of this book.” If you’re out there, Rhona, know that you were properly acknowledged. Abrasive, Caitlin Flanagan clone and all the rest I can take. But I would never knowingly take someone else’s ideas.
Katha Pollitt once again reminds us that women’s choice is not in a vacuum, that there are social pressures and biases and, in reality, a lack of real choices for women who want to be full human beings and parents. Linda Hirshman, on the other hand, used the New York Times Styles section to find her pool of educated married women, which formed the basis of her tirade against mommies retreating back home. Any idiot would tell you that the socioeconomic group depicted in that column is not representative of educated women. In a move reminiscent of Newsweek‘s 1980s report on women over 30 snagging a spouse, Hirshman’s notoriety-grab proves once again that slanted sensationalism obscures tougher truths every time. Thank goodness Katha Pollitt gets it: There are no sides to take here. Families with children and without trust funds face a set of lousy choices in an unsupportive world.
COLD WAR, WARM WORDS
Thank you very much for Stephen F. Cohen’s “The New American Cold War” [July 10]. I am very much impressed by the high level of understanding of Russia’s social and political life from a foreign author and by such a comprehensive and deep analysis of modern Russia. Reading other Western mass media materials about Russia regularly, I can say that most of them repeat the same overused journalese–“former KGB colonel,” “backsliding on democracy,” etc.–recalling the best examples of Soviet propaganda. Dr. Cohen’s article is an excellent exception to this.