Letter of the Week
Pull my hair

Kristen Lombardi's "Spoiling for a Catfight" [August 17–23] purports to challenge the misogynistic media portrayal of the Jeanine Pirro–Hillary Clinton contest, while using the same tactics and language she claims to be challenging. Lombardi fails to effectively reclaim the language or assert any real critique of why these two women have been cast as hair-pulling, claw-baring, felines (ahem, pussies), or how this diminutive characterization impacts women in American politics, and professional women in our culture in general. The media coverage of women in political races that focuses on hair, hemlines, and screeching deserves a far more in-depth critique using language that does not trivialize or re-enact the phenomenon.

Cynthia Lowen

Lawless in Gaza

Jarrett Murphy's insightful analysis of the coverage of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza ["Standing Still Is Drama in Gaza," villagevoice.com, August 18] is marred by his offhand assertion that "the settlements violate international law." One can argue about whether the settlements were a good idea or not, but there is not some international law that renders swaths of territory off-limits to Jewish Israelis (just as there is no international law prohibiting the million or so Arabs who live in Israel from living inside the "Green Line"). It only became illegal for Israelis to live in Gaza because the Israeli Knesset voted to make it a violation of Israeli law. In the Oslo Accords, the PLO agreed on behalf of the Palestinian people that the Palestinian Authority would have no jurisdiction over the settlements and that the final status of the settlements would be a matter for bilateral negotiation with Israel.

Joel Bassoff
Edison, New Jersey

Jarrett Murphy replies: There's certainly no law that puts land off-limits to individual Israelis or anyone else, but there is, in fact, international law prohibiting governments from erecting settlements on land they occupy by force. Article 49 of the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War states, "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." Israel and its supporters deny the applicability of this law, but groups like Amnesty International and the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem agree that the settlements (not, it's important to note, the settlers) are illegal.

Katz attack

In his letter about union disputes at the IFC Center ["Sharper Picture," Letters, August 3–9], Aaron Katz shows a propensity for shortsightedness that may come to haunt him down the road. In all likelihood, Katz will not spend his entire working career projecting in the IFC Center. Perhaps his future job change will be his choice, but if it is not, he will have no recourse, for he is an "at will" employee. This is a fact of life in America—without a personal-services contract or a union contract you can be terminated from your job for no reason at all. "At will" employees are not infrequently asked to take pay cuts in bad economic times. Decline and you are let go. While Katz extols his training and skill levels—casting false and rude aspersions against Local 306 projectionists, who he claims are not up to his standards—in any employer and employee economic relationship it is irrelevant. An employee is a tool to make money. If the business is losing, you can get lost, if that is the employer's will. Although Katz believes he is being paid well, his salary and benefits are not up to the area standard for movie theaters organized under Local 306 IATSE. This delusion is a by-product of Katz's lack of awareness, since he is not privy to those standards because he chooses not to join the projectionists' union. As to his false and rude aspersions, our Local 306 members are held in the highest esteem on a global level for the same standards he invokes as his personal strengths. Our members work at the Museum of Modern Art, one of four American repositories for global film culture. They work with archived, volatile nitrate film which I dare say Katz has never encountered. He offends us by debunking the work of hundreds of theater projectionists who pay attention to thousands of weekly details required when working in a film megaplex. His offense casts him in the role of egotist, tainting his opinion of unions with his very high opinion of himself. Lastly, the four (four) false starts of Don't Look Back happened on a day I was picketing. Despite the fact that Katz "hadn't heard of it," it cost the IFC Center money. Many patrons exited the theater and immediately asked for their money back. Some of those told us on the picket line, "You are right! They don't know what they are doing!" In a sense, that applies to anyone faced with the choice of being an "at will" employee as opposed to working under the security of a union contract. To choose "at will" is a sure sign "they don't know what they are doing!" As this Local 306 struggle with IFC Center proceeds, it's not too late yet to change your mind!

Michael R. Goucher
President, Local 306 IATSE

Sexy! Sensational!

I was so aggravated by the headline about the "catfight" between Clinton and Pirro ["Spoiling for a Catfight," August 17–23]. How about giving up trying to make the story sexy and calling it a "political battle"? If you must sensationalize it to get people to read the paper, could you please come up with something that doesn't make these two adult, hardworking, intelligent politicians sound like two high school girls fighting over a boy?

Ellen Zerkin
Park Slope

Terms of estrangement

Why is it when female political candidates (or whenever two females voice adverse opinions) it is termed a "catfight"? To demean women (and here, one of the smartest women in American government) in such a fashion is to continue to chip away at the hard work we, as feminists, have done to actually promote women in politics, business, education, and across the economic landscape.

Teddy Ann Fuss
Oakland, California

Not for teacher

Jessica Winter's knee-jerk, overly p.c. take on The 40-Year-Old Virgin ["The Opposite of Sex," August 17–23] makes her seem both priggish and disconnected from reality. Winter implies that portraying people telling gay jokes and using unflattering racial stereotypes is irresponsible. That's insulting. Straight guys make gay jokes, and certain men (some of whom are black) are players. Also insulting is the implication that there is something wrong with people who find it funny. Winter comes off as a humorless schoolmarm shaking her finger at the bad kids for offending her delicate sensibilities. She needs to give the audience a little more credit.

Rob Gibbs
Staunton, Virginia

Jessica Winter replies: Silence, child! Sit down!

Lukewarm turkey

Michael Feingold's review of Lennon [August 17–23] was cruel and unfair. My wife and I were at the opening and it was a wonderful play. We learned a lot about John and Yoko, and the actors and musicians were top-notch. Your review proves that the "liberal press" jumps on the bandwagon with every other rag in town. We finally get a decent play on Broadway, but the critics make sure to rip it to shreds. If Feingold wanted Beatles music he should have found another Beatlemania production instead. Instant karma gonna get you!

Mark Deats
Nanuet, New York

Statistically speaking

In "Sex and the Kiddies" [August 10–16] Sharon Lerner writes: "Nationwide, 61.8 percent of middle schools teach about methods of contraception, according to a 2000 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." A 2000 study? Remember the jackass who got elected in 2000 and went on to mandate abstinence-only, no-mention-of-condoms- except-in-the-context-of- wildly-inflated-failure-rates sex miseducation?

A better gauge would have been the research of Alan Guttmacher Institute, which tracks state-by-state regulations about what sex ed topics can be taught where, and to students of what age. While I applaud Lerner for writing the piece, this issue has been so controversial and so rapidly changing since 2000 that I'm disappointed she didn't seek out some more contemporary—and accurate—statistics.

Gulielma Leonard Fager


In Wayne Barrett's "Statistics Still Do Lie" [August 24–30] the Voice printed that Democratic candidate Gifford Miller's spokesman did not respond to the questions about whether or not Miller was claiming campaign literature as an exempt expenditure. In fact, Miller's spokesman did respond to it before the Voice closed, and due to an editing error his denial was not printed.

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