Letters from our readers.
Feb. 12 1999 3:30 AM

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Girls Against Boys


Cheers to Cathy Young for being a rare, courageous feminist who doesn't think men are the cause of all women's problems. Jeers to Wendy Shalit who cannot seem to comprehend that equal numbers of women suffer from abuse as cause it, and similarly for men.(See the "Dialogue": "Should Women Be More Modest?")

Particularly offensive is Shalit's claim that men are uncivilized and must be trained. Shalit is no doubt aware that male-bashing, although emotionally satisfying (I assume), is counter-productive. For those of us working to create a world in which the genders are treated equally in the workplace, take equal responsibility in matters of sex, and treat each other socially with equal respect and dignity, the only practical approach is to start doing it. But to act as though wrongs only matter when they happen to women, or to assume that women are never in the wrong when they have conflicts with men, is to retard progress toward a goal that even Shalit might enjoy.

--Richard Flint



Malcolm X'd

"The Book Club" debate over Janet Malcolm's new book piqued my interest in reading it. It felt a bit too much like a discussion between a skeptical reader and Malcolm's publicist, however. Did Rosen really not find anything in the book that he disagreed with? (Even positive book reviews usually have some caveats.) I had to sympathize with Fallows when he wrote that he felt he was walking out on a limb criticizing Malcolm, given her prominence and connections in journalism. Although I'm sure Rosen means what he says in his remarks, his own professional connections with her made a free-flowing discussion, including criticism, highly unlikely. Rosen is a relatively new writer at TheNew Yorker, where Malcolm has long been a star. Malcolm's husband is a New Yorker editor. Perhaps next time, to avoid the sense that professional concerns are not hampering the conversation in The Book Club, it might make sense to choose two discussants with no ties to the people under discussion.

--Chris Shea



Historical Inaccuracy

Can David Plotz (and everyone at Slate) please refrain from speaking on behalf of History? In his Feb. 3 "Dispatch" from the Clinton trial, he writes, "History and the American people have already rendered their verdict." Sorry to be picky, but when precisely did Mr. Plotz speak to History? Is Mr. Plotz accurately reporting History's opinions? Perhaps Mr. Plotz has a tape transcript of the interview. If so, would he make it generally available?

--David Margolies

Oakland, Calif.


101 Damnations

I am appalled that your publication would ever consider publishing "Gimme Some Skin." As a Dalmatian owner, I have found nothing but love and compassion from my Dalmatian. As the director of the Dalmatian Board at AcmePet.com, Your Guide to Pets on the Internet, I have found a nation of Dalmatian owners who are the happiest people I have ever met.

To quote the author, "Many of them are deaf, and all of them are dumb. They are, in short, lousy pets." Excuse me, but have you ever had a Dalmatian as a part of your family for more than two weeks? True, Dalmatians are more hyper than most dogs, but what human 2-year-old isn't? Would you skin a 2-year-old because he talks baby talk too much and always seem to get into things and is harder than heck to potty train? Dalmatians are the least vocal of any dog. They only bark when they need to get their point across. Kind of like me. I am a quiet person until someone jerks my chain a little too hard.

--Joseph Schroeder

Weston, Ohio