No way to treat a lady

By Fiona Morgan

By Letters to the Editor

Published December 20, 2000 8:00PM (EST)

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Brava to Fiona Morgan for taking the Times to task on the Condoleezza Rice profile. Just an additional thought however on the paper's headline, "Compulsion to Achieve": Compulsion? How often is a term more associated with psychological pathology used to describe a businessman or male politician's motivation for success? The headline set the tone for a pretty creepy story.

-- Elaine Lafferty

Fiona Morgan's comments on the Times' treatment of Condoleezza Rice are well taken. The Maureen Dowd tradition, wherein we can't tell the political news from the gossip columns, is certainly pernicious in the Times' treatment of conservative women, but doesn't stop there.

Morgan's story would have had deeper resonance if she had discussed the Times' choice to begin its Sunday story on Colin Powell with a lengthy description of the G.I. Joe action figure modeled after him (which, the Times helpfully pointed out, was produced with a "fairer" complexion than Powell himself has) and didn't begin to discuss any political substance until five paragraphs in.

Does the Times' trivialization of public figures follow racial lines as much as those of sex? Previous coverage in Salon of Wen Ho Lee's treatment at the hands of the Times certainly suggests such a bias.

-- Jonathan Gilligan

It would be interesting to know if a man or woman wrote the Monday Times profile on Rice. I find it hard to believe that a man would care what dress size she wore, or if she had a girlish laugh. If a woman was the author, shame on her for that junior high mentality. Never do we see a man of intelligence, power and influence described as "a hearty laugher with a 36 waist, sometimes 37 after a long weekend." As if ...

Can we try to give credit to Bush for a Cabinet with some diversity? And yes, I voted for Gore.

-- Mary Mailliard

Fiona Morgan professes to be shocked! shocked! that the New York Times would belittle an ideological enemy like Condoleezza Rice by using "retrograde gender imagery."

Surely we have all lost the right to be surprised by this sort of thing after what was written about Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris.

-- Roderic Fabian

Fiona Morgan criticizes the New York Times for resorting to gender stereotypes, but she then stoops to peddling stereotypes of her own about Southerners. ("I don't look forward to watching her play the lady to the good ol' boys she works for, Bush and Dick Cheney. Southern girls learn early that honey catches more flies than vinegar ...")

It's hard to know which is more condescending -- the Times' puffery about Rice's dress size, or Morgan's sneering allusion to Bush and Cheney as "good ol' boys."

Morgan, for all her supposed broad-mindedness, may deride one sort of stereotype, but she doesn't hesitate to resort to stereotypes of another sort. Her choice of language seems evidence of, at best, inconsistency, and at worst, hypocrisy.

-- Geitner Simmons

I find it so completely hypocritical that in two articles posted one under the other, the New York Times is criticized for focusing on the mundane and sexist details of Condoleezza Rice's wardrobe, but in "Bill TV," Laura Bush is described as wearing a lilac suit out of a "1967 Redbook." Why don't you set the example first before you criticize other papers?

-- Lauren Sturm

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