Letters to the Editor

"Hefty" centerfold isn't so voluptuous, after all; stay-at-home moms aren't there for the finances; finally, someone made a film about sex for girls.

Published July 20, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)


I desire as much as any other woman that all women -- of all shapes, sizes
and ethnicities -- be respected, appreciated and valued. And despite my deep-seated
belief that all forms of pornography are damaging and demeaning to
women as a whole, I was intrigued that Playboy would feature a more
voluptuous woman in its pages.

But I use the term "voluptuous" loosely here. Despite weighing what some consider to be her ideal body weight, Rebecca
Scott is still a lean woman. Furthermore, it is abundantly
clear that despite her other "curves," her breasts are indeed augmented.
So, still she meets the general requirements of a Playboy centerfold
fantasy, as she is lean with a disproportionate bust. She is still airbrushed and
computer-altered. She is without substance and reality -- as are all the
other women Playboy would like to make us believe is the ideal.

Whatever advancement in similarity to real American women she represents,
she does not look like the rest of us -- nor, for that matter, does she even
look like herself.

-- Melissa Ramirez Naasko

So if Rebecca Scott is "average," then why use words/phrases like
"round," "thick," "unusual size," "fatty" and "heft"? Make your point, or don't.
My 4-year-old daughter, who is beautiful, can easily be reduced
to tears if someone calls her chubby. I think I'll buy this
Playboy issue for my family, to show my son and daughter what
Barbie should look like, glorious hooters and all.

-- Tricia Paker

Stay-home economics

As the host of a nationally syndicated talk radio show, "Work & Family From
the Wall Street Journal," I often hear the argument that a mother's income
only goes for luxuries and that a great deal of money will be saved if mom
(and it's always mom) stopped working. I have even had callers say that I
was a bad mother because I was on the air rather than at home with my
daughter. These calculations never seemed to take into consideration that a
woman might be making a decent wage and, in fact, might be making more than
her husband. As someone whose income has helped us buy a new home, and
contributes markedly to my family's bottom line, I'm glad Phaedra Hise
further explored the costs associated with one parent's unemployment, as
well as the costs that come from having one parent in the home. She is
right when she tells readers to do it because they want to, not because it
is to their financial benefit.

-- Jan Wilson

Host/executive producer

"Work & Family From the Wall Street Journal"

New York

Please do not waste your precious space with
any more of the Great Debate of stay-at-home vs. working mothers. I've been
listening to it for the 10 years that I have been a parent and have had
enough. Parents who are honest enough with themselves realize it is
an extremely personal choice reflecting the best situation for their family
at any given moment. Either way it is not an easy choice or lifestyle.
Reducing such a choice to the analysis of a financial
balance sheet is insulting to your readers.

-- Deborah Blair

Where does this Phaedra Hise get off? A person's spouse does not have to
make a lot of money for him or her to stay home, whether it's mom or dad. Since when do you always have
to wear brand-new clothes, sign your kids up for Gymboree or
take the kids out as often as Hise suggests? Has she ever heard of
sewing? Taking the kids to the park? Entertaining her kids herself
rather than missing out on their lives by having someone else do it?
It's sad that people have to have so much money that they shove their kids in day care and miss out on
those small moments that stick with you forever.

-- Blythe Miller

Don't you know that it's different for girls?

As a parent of a son and a daughter, I was heartened to read about someone
making a film about how girls experience sex, and our need to feel good about
it. I've spoken openly with my son about the need to please a girl -- about how, if he figured
that out first, he would be a better lover.

Stereotypes die hard, and the promotion of sexual stereotypes in film in this country is nauseating. Remember how pissed off and uncomfortable men got over "Thelma and
Louise"? Can't wait to see this film, no matter what the rating.

-- Sara Kiesel

Rachel Lehmann-Haupt and her interviewee rant and
rave about the MPAA board, stating that according to current standards, it's OK to show
men being sexually promiscuous, but not women. If something bad slips through the filter, however, you don't let every other bad thing through as
well; you filter out all the garbage.

-- Jon Hartman


Where the boys are

People aren't really fascinated with women's sports
because -- wow! -- women, too, can be violent, skilled, tough. Women's sports has something that men's no
longer has, and that it needs badly. Simply put, it's feeling. The more women's sports "rises" to
the professional level, however, the more it looks like the men's game -- and the
more boring it becomes.

-- George Beinhorn

Cathy Young fails to recognize
that in the United States, with few exceptions, both male and female
professional athletes are sold to the public in the same manner as
presidents, movie stars and most public figures packaged as heroes: in
sanitized, protective wrapping that is pleasing to the eye and devoid of any
complicating reality. In this packaging system, women are married to or
dating men, men are married to or dating women, and there is no such thing as
an out-of-wedlock birth.

The packaging of professional athletes on
television is about making money, not making social progress. Women playing
sports is not new; what's new is that television advertisers have finally
realized that female athletes are an untapped source of revenue. If social
progress were the goal here, marketing decisions would not be made as they
currently are, mostly by men or by a few women operating in a realm
where so-called traditional definitions of
women go largely unchallenged and a tight lid is kept on the personal lives
of female athletes who don't fit the heterosexual norm. Advertisers rake in
the dollars in this climate by minimally expanding images of women, cleverly
offending none of them while simultaneously homogenizing all of them. Young
states that women's "sports have been normalized as a part of mainstream
American culture," and that this is "truly revolutionary." This event was
not revolutionary, but inevitable.

-- Jana Panarites

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Run, Hillary, run

I wonder whether Christopher Hitchens should,
instead, point out that the leftist movement in the entire country has for
quite some time been in dire straits? I understand he is writing
specifically about the New York race for the U.S. Senate. But what about the
big picture, about how the dynamic duo got to the White House in the first
place? A movement that puts the Clintons in office as a liberal backlash to the horrors of the
right-wing Republicanism of the previous decade deserved what it got. And now
we will suffer the consequences, with the distinct possibility of frat-boy
Bush being swept into the Oval Office on the basis of his fund-raising
machine. I can only pray the backlash to that will be
some serious liberal soul-searching in the first years of the new millennium.

-- Angelo Young

Tepic, Mexico

Hitchens is a grumpy old thing. More cogent questions this political
season could be addressed to Gov. George Bush.
Shouldn't we all be horrified at how easily he drums up multimillions, and
at his utter lack of substance or even a position on any issue?
He has not "governed" Texas in any way, since this is a "weak governor" state, a result
of reconstruction in the last century. His sole successful
business, a major-league baseball team, only achieved the financial heights
it reached because of a deal cut with the local city government to condemn
land for a stadium which the taxpayers then paid for. If I
were Hitchens, I'd have a lot more questions to ask Bush
than I could ever think of for Hillary Clinton.

-- Jennifer J. Mattingly

Austin, Texas

Digital divide is growing

As a single mother living in rural California (where some of us are still waiting for electricity), I contend that the issue here is not one of income or race, culture or locale. The critical factor in Internet usage is literacy. Of secondary importance, but still a significant factor, is the discipline to think sequentially and retentively. And, oh yes, let us not omit something as mundane as the ability to type. It's reading, writing, arithmetic.

-- Allena Hansen

Caliente, Calif.

By Letters to the Editor

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Christopher Hitchens George W. Bush Hillary Rodham Clinton Title Ix