Letter to the Editor

Self-reliance

I just read Anya Kamenetz's "Superwoman 2.0" [Generation Debt, December 22-28, 2004] and was relieved to hear how many other people feel the same way. I am 27, and an artist and editor. This feeling of being torn surfaces every day for me. I want to have my career, have a family, and make enough to support myself without relying on another person. Is this too much to ask for?

Women internalize the issue and think they have to compromise their life in order to achieve their goals. But it's the structure of our society that needs to change. Thank you for running this story.

Rachel Cook
Houston, Texas


Anarchy in the U.S.

Rick Perlstein's "The Case of the Ohio Recount" [December 22-28, 2004]made me thank God that the people he described are not running our government. I can only imagine how quickly this country would sink into anarchy if those ninnies would ever find a way to coalesce and actually get elected.

Warren Seidel
Naperville, Illinois


Legal man

Great analysis by Rick Perlstein. Too bad he doesn't get it either—although he does try, harder than most liberals do.

I would offer a far simpler analysis. Democrats want to count every vote. Republicans want to count every vote that is a legal vote. Count every vote, and Democrats win most of the time. Count every legal vote, and Republicans stand a fighting chance.

Eric Vahlbusch
Clarkston, Michigan


Too legit to quit

Perlstein seems to view this election as "business as usual." How many elections do the Republicans have to steal before the country says "no more"? How many more elections are to be decided in states where the secretary of state is also the chair or co-chair of the Republican ticket? How long are Democrats and progressives to put up with this? This time around, people are aware of what's happened, and John Conyers, at least, takes it seriously enough to look into it now. God knows, there were enough concerns about voting machines before the election—voting machines that were manufactured and maintained by companies overwhelmingly Republican. Bush's legitimacy was questionable in 2000. And it certainly is now.

For Perlstein to minimize the concerns and efforts of people he so disparagingly calls "volunteers" is typical of the media stance currently inflicted upon this country. Rather than being concerned about the country and where it's headed, it's easier to ridicule those who are concerned. Rather than digging deep to see if there are valid questions, the media denigrate those who have the nerve to question. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s amendment is a very solid idea. But in this climate, will anything that makes any sense ever get passed by this Congress or this administration? It hasn't happened yet.

Ellen Johnson
Dallas, Texas


The gap

Anya Kamenetz's "Superwoman 2.0" [Generation Debt, December 22-28, 2004]repeats the same old women's wage-gap lie. For the record, women make less than men in the aggregate for very good reasons. It has to do with education, training, experience, commitment to work, and personal choices. All credible studies show this. Pick a group of women with the same characteristics as a group of men and the earnings will be statistically the same. What the wage gap argument essentially says is that less-qualified women should earn the same as more-qualified men simply because they are women. In fact, in some "markets" constrained by affirmative action, a woman's earnings may be higher simply because she is a woman. I do not see The Village Voice arguing that this is wrong, even though it clearly is, both morally and from an efficiency perspective.

Do I want my daughter to receive fair treatment in the market? Of course, but I do not see how I can argue that she should get preferences unavailable to my son.

Christopher Garbacz
Jackson, Mississippi


Fair play

Kamenetz makes the claim that women earn just 76 cents on the male dollar without offering a shred of proof. For instance, do women at the Voice only earn three-quarters of what men make for the same job? Would Kamenetz claim that women of similar age (as men) with similar education and similar jobs really make such low wages compared to their male counterparts—even with half of all law and medical schools graduating women? I doubt she would, because she couldn't!

Jeffrey Abelson
Manhattan


Book 'em

I sincerely hope that once the Generation Debt series is completed, the Voice will publish the collection of articles in a book.

I know so many people, myself included, who can identify with all the issues each author addresses (and I live in Canada). Keep up the good work.

Nkechi Ogbue
Toronto, Ontario

Anya Kamenetz responds:Thank you all for your comments. I would like to respond to Christopher Garbacz. You say that the pay gap is absolutely fair, due to women's inferior "education, training, experience, and commitment to work," and our "personal choices." As for education and training, women are now earning more than half of all bachelor's degrees. The other three factors you mention are direct artifacts of the time bind described in my story. Women still provide the vast majority of hours of unpaid care for children and elderly relatives.

Put simply, we are much more likely to have priorities in addition to a career, priorities that are centrally important to the welfare of this country—if we don't provide this care, who will? Until society is reorganized to support caregiving and avoid penalizing caregivers, it's hard to see how you, your son, your daughter, or anyone else could describe the situation as fair.


Stage beauty

Thank you, Jorge Morales, for an insightful review of thePhantom of the Opera movie ["The Phantom Menace," December 22-28, 2004].Actors in the stage play had years to hone their characters. The depth of character of the Irish Colm Wilkinson, the unparalleled voice of Canadian Rebecca Caine, the sheer beauty of American Sylvia Rhyne, the vocal acrobatics of the real Carlottas . . . all M.I.A. And there's a mystifying disregard for the lyrics ("Masquerade" is about the colors and masks sweeping by—all of which were removed from the visuals in an appalling facsimile of My Fair Lady's more entertaining Ascot number).

The stage play has flaws; they are overcome with rich characterization by talented actors. There are many fine stage talents who could have set the screen ablaze if they'd been filmed doing their work onstage. That would have been worth spending money on.

Timothy J. Anderson
Member of Phantom of the
Opera's original Canadian cast and Far East touring company
Edmonton, Alberta


Eye candy

Re Michael Atkinson's review of House of Flying Daggers ["Flight Club," December 1-7, 2004]:

It's worth noting that the film is not a Hong Kong film—a keystone in Atkinson's argument —but rather a mainland Chinese film. The mainland has a drastically different film history from Hong Kong's. (In Daggers, the only HK connection is actor Andy Lau.)

However, Atkinson's analysis illuminates many parallels to contemporary Chinese society. Mainland China's film industry is a baby compared to Hong Kong's. Similarly, the mainland's market-driven economy and culture are also in their beginning stages. Atkinson likens the film to a "streamlined McSpectacle" that's "reached a state of deracinated gloss, homogenized out from speed-mad native pop lunacy to postcard-bourgeois picture show." Sure, the film at times has no other purpose than to provide intensely exotic eye candy for the viewer. But isn't that China? Isn't trendiness in China an attempt at mass-market appeal? Look at the chic new areas in China—Xin Tian Di in Shanghai, for example. It's a showcase for the potential that money and popularity can bring to China.

Writing from the American perspective, Atkinson makes it clear that Daggers is a cheesy, glossy film, homogenized to fit a formula. From the Chinese perspective, it is far much more—it is glamour (in the good sense), it is potential.

It is . . . the future?

Victor Lang
Chicago, Illinois

Michael Atkinson responds: I never said that Daggers was an HK film—just that it was appropriating decades' worth of old HK clichés and tropes, and doing it with glossy digital fluorescence. Far from looking forward or revitalizing his national cinema, Zhang is merely raiding the Golden Harvest stockyard and, in so doing, picking up where Ang Lee (and the Wachowskis) left off.

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