Bang-bang girl

By Janet Reitman


Salon Staff
February 1, 2001 1:11AM (UTC)

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Thanks, Janet Reitman, for your dead-on review of Deborah Kogan's book, "Shutterbabe." No wonder journalists have a bad rep with the reading public: Forget about the orphans, and the starving and heartbreaking victims, when you're covering a story; just figure out who's the right person to help you climb to the top (or bottom, sexually speaking). To this journalist, your review said it all. Keep 'em coming.

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-- Alice Steinbach

I met Janet Reitman on assignment in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1994, so I read her review of "Shutterbabe" with interest. At the time, I was an even younger, far less experienced woman than Reitman -- I'd been sent (absurdly enough) as a cartoonist for the New York Observer and the New Yorker. My experiences there were enough to convince me that I had no business even drawing such things, and what I saw there still, literally, keeps me awake at night.

Among the more experienced journalists I met there, I was most impressed by Reitman, despite the indiscretions she alluded to. She may have tempted more than a few male journalists, but she clearly had a great deal of integrity, and I was grateful that she was so supportive to other women in the field, regardless of their status in the pecking order. I thought more than anything that her "womanly" touch -- kind manners go a long way -- was a great deal more useful than all the macho swagger (not limited to guys) I came across. More importantly, her sensitivity has no doubt been appreciated by the people whose stories she covers, too.

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-- e. chrysanthe

I'm mystified by the review. I devoured the book, gave it to my friends and sighed relief that someone was expressing the human behind the hero mystique. My conquest wasn't photojournalism, but was fraught with the same eye-blinking shame. The subject of the review, rather than the book, was what she couldn't say because she was female and how dare she. I didn't read that. I read about a person being unprepared and rising to the challenge. I saw someone trying to balance living her life vs. winning the career. Calling her minor, attempting to silence her because she didn't give proper acknowledgment to women outside her experience and the bitterness of her quitting the field all belie a subtext argument that misses the point of the book. Why is it all right for men to mix profession and life, but the instant a woman exposes that, it is a woman who jumps down her throat? Love her, hate her, but please, don't silence her voice -- it's needed.

-- Jeff Newell

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It saddens me to read an article like this one where one woman takes the opportunity to pick apart and criticize another woman's behavior for not being "feminist" enough. How ironic that Reitman accuses Kogan of harming the feminist agenda by emphasizing her sexual escapades -- in fact it is Reitman who is undermining feminism by proving once again that it is competitiveness and cattiness, not solidarity, that rules relationships among women. I wish that women like Reitman would realize their own role in perpetuating a world of "boys' clubs" and double standards -- until they do, there is not much hope for true equality among the sexes.

-- Elisa Rassen

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