Letters

In addition, the article paraphrased Fela's son Femi's words to imply that Femi had contempt for his father, when the opposite is the case. Though Femi may not agree with everything his father did and thought, he was heavily influenced by Fela, not just musically but to the point of commencing his own movement for social reform, The Movement Against Second Slavery. He is also an avid supporter of the campaign against AIDS and an advocate for AIDS education.

Rikki Stein
London, England

Mark Schoofs replies: The article states clearly that Fela "fearlessly excoriated" Nigeria's military dictators, notes that they jailed and beat him, and points out that Fela was one person ordinary Nigerians could rely on. As for Femi, no fair reader could possibly come away with the notion that he held his father in "contempt." Femi is, however, a less than "avid" AIDS fighter; he told me that he hasn't initiated any concerts or advertisements against the disease and that he "won't push" people about HIV prevention. Stein seems to think that Fela's denial of AIDS—a textbook case of self-deception—was incidental. In fact, it was symptomatic of a much deeper blindness, a wholesale dismissal of white culture, including biomedicine. As for Fela's attitude toward women, the piece quotes Fela himself: "Woman got no other role than making the man happy." And, of course, Fela endangered women by refusing to wear condoms. With about one in every 20 Nigerian adults infected, AIDS is on track to kill more of Fela's people than all the military dictators he so brilliantly fought.


Meat Drew

While I appreciated your inclusion of an article about female-to-male transsexuals [" A Real Man," Nora Vincent, November 23], I found the use of a sutured Barbie doll to represent the FTM on your cover completely offensive. As a female-to-male transsexual, I can attest that the image is our worst nightmare. It is exactly what we pray not to become when we begin the process of transition: a feminine woman with male body parts sewn on, haphazard and incongruous. Much more goes into transitioning than mastectomy and phalloplasty (penile construction). As Drew Seidman said to Nora Vincent, it's not the penis that makes the man. "It's much more than the skin I'm wearing." Sadly, your cover art did nothing to evoke the complexity that exists beneath the skin of the transsexual but instead reduced the transsexual, and all people, to mere body parts, to meat.

I would also like to address Vincent's reply to two letters in the December 7 issue. Vincent wrote, "As an androgynous woman and a drag king, I resent deeply the implication that I in any way misled, mistreated, or disrespected Drew." While drag kings and FTMs might both reside beneath the transgender umbrella, the two are hardly the same thing. A drag king explicitly performs gender, whether on stage or the street; he is parodying masculinity. When the performance is done, the drag king goes home and removes his costume, his spirit-gummed mustache, and resumes life as a woman (androgynous or otherwise). The FTM lives the life 24/7. To even imply that a drag king should speak for FTMs is like saying that Al Jolson, because he put on blackface and sang "Mammy," spoke for African Americans.

So please, Nora, don't try to put on the mantle of transsexual oppression, because it just doesn't fit on a drag king's shoulders. And as far as being an "androgynous woman" goes, I was one myself for a number of years and it is nothing like living day-to-day as a transsexual man.

Jack Griffin
Manhattan


Gladiouter

Re Michael Musto's "blind item" column in your December 7 issue:

"Come See Journalist and Social Commentator Michael Musto 'Out' Celebrities in the Voice!" read the sign pointing to the arena.

Oh boy. Everybody loves a good outing. It's blood sport; but not like bullfighting, where the bull at least has a chance of goring its tormentor. In the "sport" called outing, frail people who have done interesting things with their lives are herded into the columned arena where the journalist picks them off. Most survive, though wounded or crippled, and the crowd delights in hearing the wails of anguish and seeing the spattered blood.

The key performer in this bloody freak show is the shrieking queen bitch Michael Musto. But she's nowhere near as interesting as the people huddled in the ring. After the celebrities are carted away on gurneys, and the queen bitch preens and congratulates herself, the score will still be the same: The celebrities will still be celebrities and Michael Musto will still be nobody. And the Voice will still be collecting for the next spectacle.

How fucking pathetic.

Scott Ferguson
Morristown, New Jersey

Although I enjoy reading La Dolce Musto, I was appalled by Musto's December 7 column. His silly guessing game about the private lives of celebrities is shameless. I am an out gay man, but I respect public figures who choose to remain in the closet. This was trash.

Luis Avilez
Netcong, New Jersey

Michael Musto replies: For such a nobody, I've certainly gotten some people excited. I report the truth about sexuality as a way of saying, "There's nothing wrong with being gay, so the celebrities and the media shouldn't act as if there is." If I were exposing public figures who were hiding their Jewishness or blackness, there would be no argument, but homosexuality pushes special buttons. In any case, the poor, "wounded" icons can continue making millions, winning Oscars, and fueling bigotry by pretending they're straight—and whoever wants to can rush to protect them.

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