Letters to the editor

Cher and Britney fans miffed over Mr. Blackwell's catty fashion calls Plus: The battle for gender equality is far from over; Disneyland is no gay utopia

Published February 2, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

Mr. Blackwell's
40th Annual "Worst Dressed Women List"


Mr. Blackwell doesn't understand that Cher is one of the most
exciting women in Hollywood.
She looks fantastic in her Bob Mackie outfits. She has more class and
talent in her little finger
than these other women have all over. Give her a break. She gives all of us
over-40 ladies a boost, looking so great at her age.
If you've got it, flaunt it. Go Cher!

-- Toni Collier

Dear Mr. Blackwell: As a 16-year-old fan of "belly-baring" Britney
Spears, I think it takes a lot of confidence to wear outfits like she does.
is an 18-year-old woman who isn't afraid of her body. I think we all
would like to see how you look and then make our worst-dressed list.

-- Shawn Zucker

Blackwell's been denigrating stars for 40 years now, huh?
Sounds like he should be on one of many lists, such as:
Top Ten Men Who Secretly Wish They Were Female So They Can Show Off Their
Fashions in Public, and Top Ten Persons Who Wouldn't Be Famous in Their Own
Bathrooms If They Weren't Belittling Someone
Who Was. What a country! Burnt-up, burnt-out jealous non-achievers get paid to
whine and complain.

-- Donald E. Phillips, II

While I tend to agree with Mr. Blackwell's fashion fiasco list and do
take it in the spirit it is intended, I believe he missed something this
year. Our darling "Dixie Chicks" aren't trying to have a style, they
are just trying to shake up conservative Nashville. Thank you for
helping them succeed further by including them in your list.

-- Ann in Indiana

I have to say, I agree with Mr. Blackwell 100 percent. I
look at
some of these women who have the money and the opportunity to make
themselves beautiful not only for the public eye, but for themselves, and
I can't believe some of the outfits they come up with. I often wonder, do they
ever stop and look in a mirror before going out looking the way they
do? Then I wonder whether they look like that on purpose.
What on earth are they thinking? All I can say is, thank you Mr.
Blackwell for making it known to all the world what you think. I'm with

-- Beth MacKade

Memphis, Tenn.

Out with the old
and out with the new


Cathy Young's essay on the problem with modern feminism is
provocative and I agree with her on many points. But, her perspective is
sadly as historically and geographically limited as the
neo-traditionalists she critiques (Crittenden and Shalit). What a
middle-class American luxury to say that we needn't discuss women's
victimization any more in the 21st century.

First of all, the roots of the historic oppression of women go very
deep, way beyond the 20th century framework Young is working from.
For centuries, European and American women had no political rights and
only very limited economic privileges. It's only been in the last 150
years that married American women have been permitted to own their own
property or claim their own wages. Thus it might be useful to consider
this long view of the persistent fact that women are still making only 75
cents on for each dollar earned by men.

Secondly, by taking a more global perspective on women's place in
the world, Young might not think it so unfashionable to talk about
victimization. The victims raped in the Bosnian war, whose sexuality and
maternity was exploited as a means of waging war on men, or women living
in Taliban-controlled societies, might not object to feminist discussion
and activism on behalf of their victimization.

Sadly, a century and a half of American feminist activism hasn't
been enough to bring about the changes Young and I both want.

-- Ann M. Little

Assistant Professor, History Department

University of Dayton, Ohio

I am shocked and dismayed that Salon would allow a journalist to
opinions and unresearched material as the absolute truth. I find
Cathy Young's attack on feminism a very irresponsible piece,
littered with untruths.

"The law no longer gives men any privileges," Young writes, and yet
there are many examples where just that happens. To name just one:
every day, four men murder their wives/girlfriends in the United States, and
the average length of their jail terms is seven years. On the much rarer
occasion that a woman kills her husband/boyfriend, even in self-defense
where a restraining order was issued against an abusive man, the
average sentence is about 15 years.

Young is also painfully incorrect in assuming that women's lower
pay is caused by "differences in occupation, skills, and length of
employment." How could she not have heard about the recent MIT study showing female professors were often passed up for promotions
and grants even when their experience and tenure were greater than the
males? Has Young also never heard of the situation in NYC restaurants
where waiters are paid considerably more than waitresses and given the
best tables to wait on? Or how about the banking industry and the Wilmar
8, women in New England who fought for promotions because men they trained
were promoted to management positions while they were stuck at the
teller's windows?

Young points out that 55 percent of college degrees go to women, but ignores
the sexist situation that makes a degree more of a necessity for
women than for men. A man without a degree earns about
$30,000 per year, and a woman without one earns about $24,000.

Young also mentions that women can be
the aggressors in
domestic violence and men are the primary victims of male violence. The truth is, women suffer from domestic violence in much greater numbers
and sustain much greater
injuries than men do. Yes, woman to man violence does indeed happen, but
it is absurd to offer it up as the equal and opposite side of the coin. Men commit 97 percent of sexual assaults and 90 percent
of violent
crime and, contrary to what Young believes, feminists place a greater
emphasis on reducing male violence than they do nurturing the role of
"woman as victim," because that is the core of the problem.

-- Samantha Berg

This is the most intelligent article on male-female relations and
that I have ever seen. Rights without responsibilities are not rights,
they are attempts at "protected" status. Trouble is, when you whine for
"protection" you convince all others of your inferiority. Of course women
should get equal pay for equal work, but only if they have equal
experience and get results.

It has long been my belief that the biggest
threat to gender equality is groups like NOW. Now we see that the "75
cents to a man's dollar" has come about for reasons other than male-lead
female oppression. But many, while trying to tear down stereotypes about
women, are content to maintain the stereotypes about men, such as men not
being caregivers. How about we take it on a case by case basis as to
what people can do. There are 6 billion of us on this planet and we all
want the same three things: to love, be loved, and feel like we matter.
Let's start there.

-- Benjamin L Mercer

The fabulous kingdom


I live in Orlando, Florida. I've come to resent the expectation
that I must
love Disney because I'm gay. In fact, I find the company's safe,
pasteurized-for-my-protection "adventures" distasteful. Likewise, as an
openly gay man, I am deeply disappointed by Disney's "wink, wink, nudge, nudge"
under-the-table acknowledgment of gays and lesbians.

Disney reaps huge profits from the thousands of gay and lesbian visitors
on Gay Days each June. Because the event is "unofficial," Disney doesn't
spend a dime to promote it. They reinvest very little of that savings in
the local gay and lesbian community. Gifts and grants to Orlando gay and
lesbian organizations are limited to politically safe community health

Reciprocity is part of a healthy relationship. Gays and lesbians should
demand it from their love affair with Disney, or make the call and break
it off!

-- Mark Wise

Yes, Disney is fabulous and so is Ferdinand the bull. I loved that
cartoon growing up and never considered Ferdinand gay. I think anyone
could find hidden gay messages wherever they look -- it's called paranoia.
Effeminacy and sensitivity do not equal homosexual or gay always.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes a bull is just a bull.
Plus, the word "fabulous" is not just a gay word, it is a fabulous word that
everyone should use more often.

-- Jon Green




When our son was 10 or 11 months old, we noticed, with some
concern, a change in his complexion.
His nose, cheeks, and forehead had a decidedly orange glow; the rest of his
body was a much subtler shade, but orange nonetheless.
Despite the hilarity (and certain fame and merchandising opportunities) of
having an offspring who bore an uncanny
resemblance to Ernie from "Sesame Street," we made an appointment with the

The only question he asked,
when we pointed out Jr's sunset-tinted luminescence, was which vegetables
he preferred.
"Why, carrots and sweet potatoes!" we cried. He very patiently assured us
that our son's neon glow would fade as soon
as he developed a hankering for less-sugary veggies of the green variety.
And it did.
If only more produce had the same effect -- imagine the racial uproar!
People with eggplant addictions, with avocado-lust, the starfruit sweet
tooth -- a rainbow coalition.

-- M. Pinero

While the level of my carrot abuse did not reach the 10 pounds a
day that
Mary Roach writes about, I did find myself compulsively eating raw carrots
straight out of the bag without any cleaning or preparation. I wasn't
particularly concerned about this because carrots are healthful, right? It
was only when my husband mentioned that my palms had turned orange that I
began to think my behavior was a bit odd, but I was still not particularly
motivated to try to stop. During this time, I chanced to have a physical
exam and found that I was quite anemic. A month or so after starting
supplementary iron, I realized that my craving for carrots had
disappeared! For many years, I was able to monitor my need for iron
therapy by the reappearance of my carrot craving.

-- Ann Hobson

Carbetbagger bowl


With all the ink that St. Louis Rams owner Georgia
Frontiere is receiving, no one is pointing out her previous career as an
outsider music artist. Back in the 1950s, Frontiere performed with her
mother, WFMU staple "Lucia Pamela" in a duo called the Pamela Sisters.
Anyone who's ever heard Pamela's album "Into Outer Space With Lucia Pamela" will not
likely ever forget it. I believe it was writer/archivist Irwin Chusid who
once described it as sounding like "an inebriated Ethel Merman backed by a
peyote-soaked klezmer band, with plenty of raw abandon and high
spirits -- the shortest distance between Sun Ra and the Shaggs."

-- Jackson Griffith

By Letters to the Editor

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