By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Letter of The Week
Live from New York
Don't you love it when some redneck letter writer [Letters January 1824]like Chris Rasmussen from Bumfuck, Colorado, lectures New Yorkers on the politics of 9-11? Take "a leisurely stroll down to ground zero," he advises, generously providing a nice wide target. Hey Chris, I'm a New York City Democrat who happens to believe that Bush should be impeached about a hundred times over, and I have some questions for you. How many ambulances park silently just outside the perimeter of your fireworks exhibits waiting to scoop up body parts? How high do you jump every time you hear a door slam or a motorcycle rev up? What's your plan if you can't move between trains? Does Century 21 give you the willies? Do you have any idea what I'm talking about? Then shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up anyway.
Rachel Kramer Bussel's "I'm Pro-Choice and I Fuck" [Lusty Lady, January 1824] expresses everything I've felt for years. I can accept nothing less than complete reproductive and sexual autonomy. Bussel delineates all the issues involved: sexual liberation, the choice to bear a wanted child, and the true agenda of so-called pro-lifers (I prefer to call them anti-choice) to curtail birth control and sexual expressiveness. The adherents of the Christian right conservative coalition have stymied any attempt to pass laws that would encourage the nurturance of the lives of the children they claim to protect.
Buffalo, New York
Cozying up to spies
Re Jarrett Murphy's "Who's Watching?" [January 2531]:As a retired police lieutenant and attorney, I never thought spying was either constitutional or effective unless it concerned groups like the BLA (Black Liberation Army), FALN (Armed Forces of National Liberation), or a neo-Nazi group that had a history of violence. Of course, the principal objection to spying is the violation of civil rights, but there is more at stake. Police officers get their best information and make their best arrests from informants, both good guys and bad guys, who obviously have dramatically different motives for providing the information to the police. If police are always seen as adversaries who can't be trusted, they will get nothing from these valuable sources. Spying is something that is sometimes necessary, but it should only be used as a last resort against known violent groups such as gangs, organized criminals, and those who would bomb abortion clinics.
More than grabbing a titty
Re Jarrett Murphy's "Mapping Rape" [January 1824]: I wish people would stop calling rape "sexual assault." When I first heard that term it made me think that someone's boob was being grabbed. Sexual assault makes rape sound less violent than it is. We don't call murder "life assault." The fact that rape is still not considered as bad a crime as others is best illustrated by Precinct Council VP Anthony Mammina's comment in the article about the inspector's read of the stats every month. Mammina states, "He does the big crimes: murder, robbery, car theft, stuff like that." Fortunately, I have never been raped, but I'm going to take a leap here and guess that if I were raped and robbed I would be more worried about the loss of my sense of security and trust than my lost belongings.
Sarah Ferguson's story on the number of cyclists killed in 2005 ["Ghost Riders," January 1117] being the highest in seven years raises the question: Why is the city wasting precious tax dollars and police manpower arresting and spying on cyclists? Bloomberg's unwarranted crackdown just discourages bicycling and actually worsens traffic by encouraging more people to drive cars. Traffic congestion, police surveillance, and cyclists' deaths: Will this be Bloomberg's legacy?
As a person who works in New York City, my feelings are for innocent victims of the arrogant and aggressive bike nuts who rule our streets and sidewalks, and who feel that anyone not on a bike is something to be knocked down. What traffic lights? What one-way streets? What sidewalks? Yes, cars can be a problem, but when is the last time you saw a car on the sidewalk or going the wrong way on a one-way street? With cyclists, I see this every day. In fact, the only law cyclists obey is the law of gravity.
Feminists get down and dirty over porno
Tristan Taormino's latest article on anti-pornography feminism ["Tool of the Patriarchy," Pucker Up, January 2531] was fabulous and exactly the sort of piece that keeps me a loyal Village Voice reader. I have studied feminism and prostitution and found the same things to be true: Feminists are reticent to entertain the notion that sex work can ever be voluntary. Taormino's final point is key: The voices of women actually living the lives about which feminists theorize should be at the forefront of the dialogue. The fact that these voices are so often not given a place in mainstream feminism is not only a shame, but it harms the entire movement. You can still rally against abusive or coercive sexual institutions without placing restrictions on women's sexuality.
Robin Berg Manhattan
After reading Taormino's article I have to say that Taormino is also a tool. I consider myself extremely sex-positive and pro-choice. However, when a woman makes the choice to exploit herself (and all other women, for that matter) in an article such as this, there should be a disclaimer acknowledging that she is being toyed with by patriarchy, and also making society hostile toward women. While Kimberly Kane might enjoy submission, rape victims whose assailants probably learned their moves from Kane's co-stars are not consenting to such sexual subservience and power imbalances. My only praise for Taormino's article is that the manifest hypocrisy of Kimberly Kane's ideas on submission being empowering gives fuel to the anti-pornography movement.
The story "Alito and His Coaches" [January 10, villagevoice.com] by Jim Ridgeway and Michael Roston would be hilarious if it weren't so tragically revealing. To act indignant and point the finger at Graham, a Republican, because "he has already made up his mind" and had discussions with the candidate is the height of intellectual dishonesty. Are we to assume, based on Think Progress' righteous indignation, that the Democrats are all open-minded and plan to give Alito a fair hearing? Schumer, Kennedy, Reid, Biden, and the gang made up their minds as soon as the nominee was known. As for the "coaching" issue: What's worse, preparing a candidate for an ideological grilling or having your questions handed to you by MoveOn.org? Both parties behave in the same irresponsible manner when it comes to public parades like this.
I just read the piece about Senator Graham having "made up his mind" about Samuel Alito before the vote. Of course, Ridgeway and Roston are right, but do they think senators Kennedy, Biden, Leahy, Feinstein, and, in fact, every blooming one of them, have not? Get real. The hearings are nothing but theater with the senators playing to their various constituencies and placating their favorite interest groups. Unless proof is produced that Alito had sex with a mule in a men's room (which of course would make him more attractive to the Voice), he will be confirmed. The political math is there.
In the article " 'They Burn Themselves' " [January 1117], David Axe describes female oppression in the "conservative society" of Kurdistan. I could better accept this description if Axe reminded the readers that it was the "conservative" U.S. government that made a wave of liberalism and freedom possible in Iraq despite the obstruction by "progressive" forces that favored keeping Saddam Hussein and sons in power. Kurdistan is the "oldest continuously inhabited country in the world" and its association with Iraq makes Iraq the most pro-feminist, woman-friendly Islamic nation in the Middle East-the article mentions female politicians, activists, media personalities, and even fitness instructors for the "fat" but apparently enslaved women of Kurdistan. In reality, it seems Kurdish women have jumped from the medieval 15th century to the postfeminist 21st century faster than you can say "bra burning."