Letters to The Ethical Spectacle


Dear Mr. Wallace:

Re your essay Mackinnon: Pornography is Oppression: I read with great interest about the subject of pornography and thought your views were insightful and I do not mean to come down on you but on these areas I disagree:

Mackinnon's bitter and veristic world view concentrates on truths most women must ignore to survive: that the male world in an important sense is hostile to them, that male sexuality mixed with violence is a potent force that holds them back, that we still fall far short of a world in which men and women will work and love as equals. Her prescriptions, however, like most Utopias, collapse of their own weight: in a patriarchic world, why does she think she can petition the patriarchy to pass laws that will silence evil speech and promote equality?

Critical much? Bitter and veristic--instead of seeing the reason behind the bitterness, a label is thrown over her as if the issues behind it do not exist. I find that funny. In a patriarchic world, you begin-- you can admit the world is dominated by male influence but then you are able to ask the asinine question of why she believes she can challenge male authority? Because anyone is allowed to challenge any theory at any time, that's why.

No further explanation needed. It is unnecessary to live in a world with the existence of violent speech --the damage has been done, yes--but why continue it? We used to use the rule of thumb reasoning behind domestic violence and we realized that we could eradicate it because it was just plain unnatural to promote violence under the law of marriage. Love and her beat her till death do us part is not so romantic.

The only hope lies with free speech. Without free speech, there cannot be equality. With free speech, equality is not guaranteed, but we have the opportunity to pursue it. It gives us the tools we need to begin the work.

Free speech should be inclusive of equal speech. There is no room in society to hurt each other. We have only so much time together as human beings, why waste it being offensive when the flip side is so much easier, so much kinder and makes everyone feel good. Sometimes I believe we have missed the point of human existence, we're here to enjoy our lives not fight tooth and nail to be respected. It's simple to teach a young person respect but try educating an adult and it's like solving a Rubik's cube.

The progress made by black people gives evidence of this.

Good and bad comparison. Black women didn't make the cut on this one and I can attest to that--being a Black woman. Progress has been and still rides a slow wave for us--watch MTV or BET late at night and ask me about the "Tip Drill" video. Black men have not assisted us in moving ahead but have joined the patriarchy bandwagon and left us behind as they wave: "So long! I'm a man now, you're just a triflin' hoe!" (You can laugh, I certainly am)

I don't see why we cannot combat the ill effects of pornography similarly, by raising our voices, rather than by demanding censorship which will backfire upon us.

Damn, I wish you were right. I am in an interracial relationship (I don't usually label myself but for purposes of explaining myself I will) and I am so open, nave at times and a shameless, vegetarian, SF native, hippy cyclist who believes all for one and one for all-- but alas, the world is not that simple for women. Sexual insecurity, shame and this need to control everyone has really been the downfall of both genders. Men are limited beyond belief in what they can feel, wear and pursue. Women face the same battles but our battles are far worse: violence threatens us to the point of exhaustion. It is sad. Our bodies, very beautiful and unique, separate us because the patriarchy's fear of the unknown. They bleed, bear children and do not fear emotion--that is downright crazy to think that we can do all that. In essence it makes us very strong, physically, mentally, etc. This strength has been turned against women to not be the desired strength that muscle has in our world. You can lift a few pounds, but hey, I can bear up to six kids in a few days if I want to. Can you do that? No, not physiologically possible. So why is one strength preferred over the other? The patriarchy decided so in retaliation to their own fears.it makes perfect sense to me. I^d fear anything that could create life and bleed for seven days without dying. Women are strong. Men are strong. We are equal, just created differently and if the rest of the universe could stop using us as pawns and objects for one minute, they could see that. Admiration and respect, not objectification and violation are the desired form of treatment all women would like.

People, men, are not ignorant or totally unable to see connections and parallels. Educate women to educate men that there is no moral difference between sexual violence and any other kind. Mackinnon would say this cannot work, but I believe it has not effectively yet been tried, loud enough, for long enough.

If this is true, begin educating yourselves, even Black people got sick of educating the ignorant. Asking the already victimized to do more work seems to be the answer for all forms of oppression: rape, domestic violence. It is never assumed that men can actually stand up and help others. But, great groups like Men Can Stop Violence, the men in NOW and other organizations for male positivity all work to challenge these theories. You are right, the evidence and the parallels are so clear. So, why then do we continue to pay into the pornography machine? Have we been given no other means to enjoy sexual pleasure besides choking, spitting and ejaculating over a woman's face and convincing her above all that it's a great way to please herself? Hmm--we have a long way to go. For now, I thank the Tao that I live a healthy life and can look on the bright side of life. You do the same. Thanks for your point of view.

Mary O'Neal


Dear Mr. Wallace:

Re your essay on Krakauer's Into Thin Air:

Nice article.

Scott Sellards


Dear Mr. Wallace:

Re An Auschwitz Alphabet:

Hello - I greatly appreciate this web site, and learned a lot. Can you suggest other websites for information and learning? I am also interested in the reference of Levi: Drowning, Survival, I think- maybe a book you can tell me about. How do I find that resource?

Thank you for your good work.

Donna