As an on-and-off reader for over 30 years, I devour everything JoAnn Wypijewski writes. Thanks to her heartrending and mobilizing piece on #MeToo [“What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About #MeToo,” March 19/26], you can be sure I will be reading for another 30.
In this wise and subtle essay, I hear the echoes of a Marxist, sex-positive feminist and historian—part exposé and memoir, part treatise. More than all of that, Wypijewski writes from the heart. I have so longed for her meditations on this messy life, this fully human and complicated experience of the world. I so long for thinking people to see how class- and race-blind, how polarizing and cruel, this supposedly liberatory moment is. Reading her column gets us most of the way there.
Wypijewski’s article on the #MeToo movement, American justice, mass incarceration, workplace suffering, and the history of sex panics from Reconstruction to the child-predator mania of the ’90s is sprawling but remarkable for its candor, and the best thing I have read on the subject. (Also one of the least polemical.)
new haven, conn.
A Place to Be
I would like to thank Sue Halpern for her article “Libraries Are Essential to Democracy” [March 19/26]. Halpern’s story is remarkable: creating a blossoming library from scratch for a town of some 3,000 people.
Halpern notes that Trump is “gunning” for libraries, but just as important is the neoliberal fever that is destroying every public good in its path. Libraries still need to provide the services that they have traditionally provided, but they are needed now more than ever to provide new services, such as Internet access and safe community spaces. Furthermore, shrinking staffs and deprofessionalization are taking a toll on basic services. Higher-paid librarians are fast being replaced by lower-paid support staff without master’s degrees, and full-time staff are being replaced by part-timers who receive few or no benefits. Instead of offering quality services, directors are playing a numbers game that often consists of staging big, splashy programs to get as many bodies into the building for the least cost. Public-library boards very often just go along, but there have been several revolts from the library-going public. At this time of stretched budgets, library users should be on the lookout for such trends and hold their library administrations and boards accountable.