Letters to the editor

Pro-anorexia article is irresponsible journalism Plus: Lay off teen sex, you baby boomer hypocrites! Mary Kay Letourneau is a rapist, not a victim

Topics: Eating Disorders, Violence Against Women, Health

The joys of anorexia
BY GEORGIE BINKS
(01/27/00)

Georgie Binks has written an extremely disturbing article, and as a former anorexic, I can tell her there’s plenty wrong with starving yourself, periodically or not. She may not want her daughter to follow her lead, but what of the message she is sending out to all the women (and men) who read this piece? She still does it, hey, she can control it. That is the voice of someone addicted to a substance or behavior that will eventually defeat her.

Starvation does many horrendous things to one’s body. It wreaks havoc on metabolism, causes digestive problems, stops periods, which can lead to osteoporosis and a greater likelihood of cervical cancer. It also affects one’s mood, which can adversely affect relationships, such as that of Ms. Binks and her daughter. Lastly, Binks could easily slip back into bulimia, a nasty habit that has a tendency to stop one’s heart from beating. So, Georgie, go right ahead and starve. It’s the selfish thing to do.

– Julie Kramer

I have suffered from some quasi-form of an eating disorder, first anorexia (15 years ago) and then bulimia. I have never been obese by any means, but still continued to torment myself with bulimia. I can’t believe that Georgie gets a “high” off of it!

I have to admit I only feel better sometimes by throwing up, but the after-effects are definitely not euphoric. I guarantee that “apple juice, or a can of Coke and cigs” will not be enough to sustain a healthy body. I have yet to feel high from starving and puking, and I have been practicing my craft for almost 16 years.

– Michelle

Georgie Binks needs to get a clue. The defensive, flippant tone she takes in her article is an insult to the thousands of women who are desperately fighting (not embracing) eating disorders. Second, whether she thinks she has her eating disorders “under control” or not, she is doing irreparable damage to her body. The human body is not indestructible; it requires hundreds of essential nutrients and minerals to work properly that can’t be found in cigarettes and apple juice.

And Ms. Binks is setting a horrendous example for her daughter. This is a classic case of “do as I say not as I do” and her daughter undoubtedly sees through to her mother’s neurosis. Most importantly, Ms. Binks seems totally oblivious to how pathetic she sounds. All women do not feel fat. All women do not use food to drown their emotions. Healthy women use food to fuel their bodies and minds in order to accomplish something greater than “losing two dress sizes.”

– Catherine Davis

After reading “The joys of anorexia,” I am moved to suggest topics for future Health and Body features. How about “The total crack addiction workout” or “Speeding as a time management tool”? Better yet, the next time Salon decides to run an article advocating a dangerous and, frankly, stupid lifestyle, could the editors add an explanation as to why they chose to run the piece?

– Lisa Blackburn

I had mixed feelings about Georgie Binks’ article. On the one hand, it was very refreshing for me to read because I could completely relate. I, too, do the “unhealthy” diets. Most articles on eating disorders tend to take a very predictable stance and focus only on extreme cases. So I must applaud your less conventional and completely real approach.

At the same time, I couldn’t help feeling some qualms because there is no question in my mind that somebody somewhere is going to read this article and try the things Georgie recommends. After all, why not? It didn’t hurt her.

I do not think Georgie Binks is particularly knowledgeable about eating disorders, and she is playing with fire, there is no question about that.

I was actually intending to criticize Salon for not portraying eating disorders as a danger, but upon reflection, I thank you for not spoon-feeding me sugar-coated, one dimensional opinions and allowing me to read something new and fresh.

– Marlene Leach

Talking trash
BY AMY BENFER

(01/25/00)

Your essay is dead-on. How is it that the baby boomers’ running off to smoke pot, protest the Vietnam War and sleep around branded them as “the generation that changed the world,” while their kids are branded as sociopaths for doing essentially the same thing?

Talk about double standards. As a member of gen-X (b. 1968), I resent members of the postwar generation passing judgment on my gang for being “slackers,” and now coming after their own kids because they like a little latchkey afternoon delight. Ninety-nine percent of us turn out all right.

Now that I’m 31, married, a taxpayer and a (generally) responsible member of society, should I have to feel bad because I once liked to listen to the Clash and smoke a little pot? Should I feel bad because I tried to get on the girl next door every now and again? Hell no. And neither should the kids profiled in Lucinda Franks’ article. What they do is none of her goddamn business and I resent her exploiting those kids for the sake of shock value and magazine sales.

– B. Patterson

Thank you Amy Benfer for writing one of the few article with the guts to tell the truth about the sexual segment of America’s war on teens. As a 17-year-old male, I find myself almost always extremely upset whenever I read an article about teens written by adults because of how idiotic, hypocritical and spiteful they are. There is no area where this is more true than teen sex. As you said, the same things that it was OK for them to do at our age is wrong for us to do. Attitudes like this just make me want to scream.

The war on teen sex is a tool of control. Just as the male control of female sexuality in the past was to oppress women, the same is still done to teens today. Teens expressing themselves sexually means that they are taking control of their own bodies and their own lives and this terrifies parents.

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Talk lists many factors as leading to teen sex, but they are misquoting the facts. The single biggest factor determining the rate of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease is how much sex ed the teen has had. (i.e. the more sex-ed, the lower the rates of both go).

– Lorenzo Panarese

Amy Benfer hit the proverbial nail on the head! Her portrayal of Talk magazine’s invasive article on teen sex points out an obsession the media has with sexualizing teens, especially teen girls. Under the guise of a teen-sex exposi, Lucinda Franks buys into every clichi of the good girl/bad girl, virgin/whore myth. Franks pulls a type of “Linda Tripp” on her teen pals, and her utter disrespect for her subjects shines through — between the lines.

– Barbara Luhring

Prisoner of love
BY AUSTIN BUNN

(01/27/00)

I find the new portrayal of Mary Kay Letourneau as the victim of this predatory, “poor, nonwhite” male quite interesting. If it were a 13-year-old girl and a 35-year-old man, there’d be no question of his taking advantage of her. It would be another open and shut child rape case. Never mind if he claimed it was “consensual.” We all know a child (male or female), especially a 13-year-old (no matter how “old the soul”) can’t consent.

Imagine the hue and cry if he were to get six months, paroled on the condition he didn’t see his victim again, and then was found having sex with her in a car with a passport and a bundle of cash. You’d bet the prosecutor would want to get something like kidnapping added to the rape charge, ensuring a minimum 20-year prison stay.

But we have this poor, abused woman, who was forced to go to Catholic school (gasp). Obviously, even at 35, with such a sheltered, restrictive life, she couldn’t withstand the predatory advances of this boy. Give me a break. If you’re still so naive at 35 that you can’t withstand the manipulations of a 13-year-old, you should be in prison for stupidity.

– David Nierengarten

I found it hard to fathom how the author could rationalize this affair. The problem here is that society always assumes that men are sexual predators and women are at the mercy of them.

Whether Vili Fualaau “has the dominant sexual urges” is immaterial in my opinion. As a 35-year-old teacher, Mary Kay Letourneau is clearly the one with the power in this situation. Yet, because she is a woman, it’s possible to entertain the notion that she was somehow seduced and that a 13-year-old boy managed to coerce her into sex. Such a notion would not even be suggested if Letourneau were a man.

Either we can always treat the adult in such cases as a predator and deal with them on that level, or we need to acknowledge the fact that teenagers have a certain sexuality that is sometimes hard to resist. Either way, the standard has to be applied equally, with no thought of the sex of the adult in the relationship.

– Lyle Bateman

Consensual sex with a 13-year-old is a no-no, but it isn’t “rape of a child.” The desire of prudish authorities and feminists to blur the line between rape and consensual sex is likely to have the opposite effect they desire: making “real” rape seem less beastly.

– Glenn Reynolds

Too close for comfort
BY SAMANTHA GILLISON

(01/18/00)

Gillison’s analysis of the similarities between the two stories in question is vague and superficial — even her assessment of Cushman’s and Skenazy’s criticism lacks critical insight. Rather than critically argue that Raymond Carver blatantly “lifted the plot, characters and theme” of “Cathedral” from D.H. Lawrence, Gillison seems content to wonder where one draws the line between “being influenced [by another writer] and knocking off someone else’s work.” Of course, Gillison never answers that question.

Gillison is part of a number of relatively unknown fiction writers and journalists who have recently attacked Carver’s credibility as an original and innovative writer. Some have tried to take credit for his work, while others have suggested that Carver’s best “minimalist” work was the result of aggressive editing. Most of them seem determined to tarnish Carver’s reputation in order to polish their own. Fortunately, Carver’s work stands on it own. His stories and poetry will continue to be read and taught long after these writers and their work have disappeared

– Christopher Craig

What is it with these people, these giant-slayers? First there’s the Gordon Lish thing, about which all you could accuse Carver of is the heroism of rising above a pernicious influence. Now there’s this “blind man controversy.” The Lawrence story is quite fine. So, of course, is “Cathedral.” To suggest the one was lifted from the other requires nothing less than malevolent intent. Hey, guess what? They do both have, as weird as it seems, a blind man character. Imagine that. And Herman Melville should return from the grave to sue the makers of “Free Willy.”

– Christopher Guerin

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