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We Shall Overcome

In response to:

The Curse from the January 16, 1969 issue

To the Editors:

It is remarkable that Margot Hentoff could write about some of the most poignant and serious material on the subject of women’s oppression and ultimately fail to deal seriously with the issue. The style, however, is in keeping with the liberal-detached-male chauvinist posture of The New York Review and it is understandable that a lone woman would not wish to stick out in that crowd. In that case, then, why bother to have a woman review the subject at all since she has merely given us, once again, the liberal Jock (male chauvinist) position on women’s oppression. The New York Review is plainly exploiting Margot Hentoff’s femaleness in order to avoid charges of the crudest kind of male chauvinism—that of having a man speak for women (just as adults frequently speak for children and whites for blacks). So we are offered the liberal refinement: we are given a woman speaking the liberal Jock’s part….

Jo Ann Hoit

Note: I am writing as a member, but not as a spokesman for, the organization, Women’s Liberation.

Margot Hentoff replies:

Many of Fanny Howe’s points are rhetorical. We all know about the need to change the institutions. “Socialist protection of women,” however, has nowhere in the world elevated women to equal status with men—not even in Sweden which approaches the problem in a serious and enlightened manner.

I am no special pleader for a “sexless world,” but it is a reasonable assumption that a society in which genetic reform is both desirable and possible will not long be willing to retain the unreliable luxury of natural reproduction. While the projected biological revolution might sever that conjunction of women and childbearing which most distinctly defines women as a class, it obviously also would create a much more complex series of problems for everyone.

To Jo Ann Hoit: I fail to see how Women’s Liberation and other radical feminist organizations, from whose members I have heard at length, hope to establish a functioning sisterhood by endlessly “correcting” and inaccurately interpreting the deviationist positions of all the sisters who are not instantly amenable to being pressed into service as propagandists.

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