Reading Katherine Kersten’s June 24 commentary “Sex and the single mind,” I kept feeling a more apt title would have been: “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” I cringe even writing that, but that seems to be her overarching point: that women can and should only expect love, respect and fidelity from men if they withhold sex until marriage.
As offensive as the implications of the article were toward women, I find them equally offensive toward men. Are we to accept that men must be coerced into marriage in order to behave like decent people? Are men incapable of treating women (or really anyone) with respect, affection and consideration unless they’re “getting something” for it in return?
Kersten makes the all-too-common mistake of focusing on the behavior and “mistakes” of women rather than those of men. I’m raising three boys, and it is my greatest hope that — with any luck and a lot of guidance from their parents — they will grow up to treat women (and everyone else, too) with respect, kindness and thoughtful consideration, especially in intimate relationships, regardless of whether they’ve “put a ring on it.”
Alyson Keith, St. Paul
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It is quite obvious that the men who have been accused of sexual harassment in the age of the #MeToo movement are a diverse group indeed: Republican, Democrat, Caucasian, black, Native American, gay, straight, etc. How, then, does Katherine Kersten expect us to take her seriously when she writes a very long commentary while only mentioning two of the accused: former U.S. Sen. Al Franken and former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, both Democrats? How could she write this article while never once mentioning President Donald Trump?
In discussing Franken, she castigates Minnesota voters by saying they knew what they were getting (according to Kersten, a “boorish, potty-mouthed comedian”) but elected him anyway. She doesn’t mention what the voters knew before electing Trump. She describes Schneiderman as apparently believing that sexual abuse and violence are pleasing to women, while failing to mention the tape in which Trump said, among other crude things, “They let you get away with it.” She complains that our culture is awash in pornography while ignoring our president’s fraternization with porn stars and Playboy centerfolds, activities allegedly undertaken shortly after his third wife gave birth. She gives Trump a complete pass while seeming to indict just about everyone else, including feminists. I have seldom read an article so obviously hypocritical.
Martha Bordwell, Minneapolis
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I agree with Kersten that gender relations are unlikely to improve until we see caring relationships as the purpose of sexual intimacy rather than physical pleasure. She accurately analyzes ills consequent to the sexual revolution — promoting pleasure as the supreme goal of sex and denying “differences in men’s and women’s needs, desires or vulnerabilities.”
She also hits the mark regarding women’s cooperation in their own degradation, but she did not give enough attention to the role of unequal power. Women give in when they do not really want sex because they have not shed a fundamental tenet of patriarchal training — subordinating their own desires to those of men.
The #MeToo movement deserves credit for focusing on unequal power in gender relations. But it does not address our society’s treatment of sex as a commodity, with women as the objects/products and men as the consumers. We could express power by refusing to let fashion dictate that, for women but not for men, “attractive” means sexy. How about some of the role reversal modeled in the animal world, where males strut their plumage and dance steps to attract the ladies? Consider an ad displaying a man’s genital area scantily clad in a clinging fabric.
But advocating for equal power as consumers is no solution to gender inequality. Let’s use our natural impulse to reach out to others by educating men about healthy relating.
Jeanette Blonigen Clancy, Avon, Minn.
‘GOOD GERMANS,’ ‘GOOD AMERICANS’
Points to add to a must-read
Thank you for positioning Joseph W. Anthony’s brilliant summary of the rise of German Nazism (“ ‘Good Germans,’ ‘Good Americans’: What’s our path?”) on the cover of the Opinion Exchange section June 24. Thanks also to Anthony for his succinct, powerful statement.
My grandparents were German immigrants; my father fought Germany in World War I; my brother, in World War II, and I have spent many years in Germany doing research at the University of Tuebingen. I have often discussed the Nazi trauma with German friends and colleagues. The analogies that Anthony carefully notes between the Germany of the 1930s and the current American experience should alarm any American citizen.
I only add two small points to Anthony’s excellent piece: (1) The use of religion by the Reich to authorize its political agenda, and (2) Nazi anti-intellectualism visited on critical thinkers through imprisonment and death.
Calvin J. Roetzel, St. Paul
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With reference to the Anthony article: Every person in the United States who can read, should — no, must — read it. Our democracy is in clear and present danger.
Montez Beard, Lilydale
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The German “Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service,” which excluded non-Aryans from the legal profession and civil service, was signed on April 7, 1933 (not April 1932, which the Anthony article cited as the date of its passage by the German legislature). This is significant because Hitler became chancellor of Germany on Jan. 30, 1933, two months prior.
Charley Rich, St. Paul
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“Good German, Good Americans” basically described me, who voted for Trump, as a Nazi-like enabler. Trump was not my favored candidate, and I do wish he would break his Twitter thumb. But his policies have largely been positive and, as we are continuing to learn, he is a great deal better than the corrupt Hillary Clinton. The current immigration crisis has been going on since about 1970 and, while heartbreaking, is not worse today than it was in the Obama administration. For this newspaper, which we all realize leans far to the left, giving voice to an author who slanders half the country as being complicit in Nazi-like evil is unwise, unbecoming and alienating to much of its readership.
Woody Smith, Lakeville
‘THE UNSCHEDULED SUMMER’
Article failed to capture the complexity of parenting today
The June 24 Variety article “The unscheduled summer” was a simplistic, saccharine piece taking aim at the tired cliché of helicopter power parents. It lacked even a nod to the nuances of situation and socioeconomics that make child care so fraught with judgment and frustration for so many. Interviewing and photographing two similar families doesn’t provide meaningful insight or perspective, especially when it almost completely ignores a key challenge of modern parenting: the cheap, easy and ubiquitous access to electronics. It’s easy to think that turning kids outside will result in unstructured exercise and creative play. In reality, keeping them unstructured and off screens takes the kind of time and energy that are a luxury for many families.
Inexpensive camps are a good compromise. They allow kids access and opportunity for exercise and creative play and keep them off screens. Don’t chastise parents for making decisions that acknowledge more complexity than you do. Instead, how about a thoughtful piece on parenting in the age of screens that talks to a variety of families about challenges and solutions?
Kristin Boldon, Minneapolis