Letters to the Editor (3/23/22) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (3/23/22) 

Published March 23, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated April 5, 2022 at 4:59 p.m.

Obscene Gesture?

The Fidium ad on page 29 of your March 9 issue was incredibly offensive and insulting. The gesture the woman is giving is the sign of the cuckold. It means your spouse is sleeping with another person. It also implies that you are supporting children who are unknowingly not your own. There are places where that gesture could get you hurt or even killed.

I guess cultural sensitivity is not something Seven Days worries about. You have sunk to a new low.

Do you actually look at your ads before you run them? My first response to that ad is to give the middle finger and say, "F*** you, too."

Ray Mainer


Editor's note: The Fidium ad came from a national marketing agency, where they surely know that this hand gesture, popularized in heavy metal culture, is shorthand for "Rock on." In 2015, it became an emoji known as the "sign of the horns." While similar, the "cuckold" symbol is usually made at someone or behind their head, especially in Mediterranean and Latin countries. A slight variation of it, with the thumb extended, is American Sign Language for "I love you."

The Price Is Right

[Re "Coming Clean," February 9]: Juliana O'Brien demonized our marriage retreats as being for white privileged people who can afford it, leaving out the average Vermonter like herself [Feedback: "Love for Some," March 9]. She says we have an illusion that we are serving "all people." I'm not sure where she read that info.

First, let me say that for nearly 25 years we practiced therapy, took insurance — at times not even receiving the co-pays from clients — and were not able to save much for retirement. Our fee represents 40 years of working as a couple with couples and our talent in doing it. Closing in on 70 years old, without a 401k or pension plan, we need to save enough so we can live and retire in our mid-seventies. We are still not millionaires.

Another point I wish to make is that, for less than $20, you can buy our book, The YUMMY Marriage. This is our way of giving back to those who wish to do the work but cannot afford us any longer.

Lastly, just two weeks ago, we worked with an African American couple. We've helped Indian couples, mixed-race couples, Asian couples, etc. — not just white privileged couples.

Israel Helfand


Support Vermont's Climate Plan

Seven Days has printed many great articles about the climate crisis over recent months and years, including the "Fired Up!" series. Vermonters currently have an excellent opportunity to help the state take an important step forward in responding to the crisis by supporting the Climate Action Plan legislation now under consideration in the Statehouse.

The Climate Action Plan is a comprehensive and excellent plan, and the implementing legislation is complex. Many have worked hard on it since 2021.

Here are a few of the many reasons I urge support:

• The climate crisis is quite real, and it is accelerating.

• We will all be affected — and are being affected now — but, most of all, it will impact those who are least able to cope with it.

• Unless we address the climate crisis in a serious way now, we will be leaving our children, grandchildren and all those who follow a world much worse than the one we were blessed with inheriting.

There are many separate bills being considered. Here are three of the most important:

• Environmental Justice Act, S.148; H.51

• Transportation Innovation Act, H.552, H.94

• Clean Heat Standard, S.233, H.715

I encourage readers to contact their legislators and urge their support. The crisis is getting worse, and time is running out.

Jud Lawrie

Essex Junction

What About Academics?

[Re "Fresh Perspectives," March 9]: Will the three newly elected members of the Burlington School Board — identified in your recent story as distinguished by the color of their skin — do anything to improve the failing achievement results in the schools of Vermont's largest city?

Hard to say, since they never addressed academic performance in the article outlining why they were interested in serving as school board members.

"Their backgrounds and recent experiences as students in Burlington schools will help bring a fresh perspective to the board," according to your story about the three recently elected 21-year-olds.

"Fresh perspective"?

How so? What kind of perspective that has anything whatsoever to do with academics?

Actually, the minority students in the schools are the ones least served by the academic policies, which favor the white students because English is the language of choice in the public schools.

So will these newly elected people of color do anything to improve the academics of the least-served population?

They have given no indication that they have any sensitivity to their own kind when it comes to making sure minority students are well served academically, which currently they are not.

The best-kept secret in Burlington schools is the short shrift given to minority students when it comes to academic focus.

Blame the school board and the teachers' union, both of which apparently couldn't care less, because all they want to do is spend tax money to make it look like they are accomplishing something.

Ted Cohen


Part of a Movement

I was saddened by the tone of Chelsea Edgar's article on the internationally known feminist Peggy Luhrs, which appeared days after Peggy's passing ["Turf Wars," March 9]. 

The article portrayed Peggy as an outlier, yet her feminism was always in line with wider feminist thinking. Peggy's understanding of gender-identity ideology as posing an existential threat to women and lesbians is now shared by thousands of women globally. Peggy was part of a rapidly expanding movement of gender-critical feminists.

Her early awakening to feminism mirrored that of many women at the time, yet again she is presented as a singularly aimless young mother who just stumbled upon women's issues. The feminism of the 1960s, '70s and '80s achieved more for women than any version of feminism since, and Peggy was at the center of it.

The article was riddled with negative and emotive language about Peggy. Words and phrases like "fear," "moral panic," "expressing a lot of hatred," "truculent," "diatribe," "militancy," "paranoid fervor," "angry, ranting and raving," "storming into," and "shouting at unsuspecting volunteers" revealed a visceral dislike of Peggy on the part of Edgar, who seized on Peggy's death as an excuse to espouse her own politics. Yet in her barely concealed attempt to present Peggy as an alienated and lonely figure, the author exposed herself as ill-informed and parochial.

This partisan journalism was at the expense of informing readers about the life of a woman who achieved so much for women and girls. Your readers deserved better than this. So does the memory of Peggy Luhrs.

Denise McKenna

London, England

Sisterly Love

For starters, the print version of your March 9 story about Peggy Luhrs was insultingly headlined "Turf Wars," which is the equivalent of using the N-word to refer to those fighting to maintain the rights of women-born women, adult females and girls. This piece of poor journalism went on to tarnish the memory of an internationally known and respected feminist, depicting her as a lone crazy person dying embittered and abandoned because of her incomprehensible views.

For some unknown reason, your young but inept journalist neglected evidence of the many women around Peggy in her time of death, including my goddess art sent and printed out on the windowsill, a women's liberation sign on the door brought by friends, and a meditation played that was carried out by the Saturday Zoom gathering of Women's Declaration International, an organization working internationally to promote women's sex-based rights in which Peggy had been active and in which she was respected for her articulate, loving, supportive and nurturing presence.

Peggy was also active in WoLF, Women's Liberation Front, another organization the journalist could have consulted should she really have desired to understand and do justice to Peggy's views. Publishing an apology would be a first step toward encouraging bridges and building coherency and understanding. Her friends brought her to the McClure Miller Respite House. In the end, Peggy was surrounded by caring sisters — not avoided as a pariah.

Batya Weinbaum

Cleveland Heights, OH

Biased View

The March 9 article ["Turf Wars"] about Peggy Luhrs was very disappointing and, unfortunately, predictable. During my interview with author Chelsea Edgar, it was clear that she came into the interview with a biased view of who Peggy Luhrs was and who she had been.

Each time, when I spoke about Peggy being a caring friend and a force for community organization, I was asked a question about Peggy's anger.

Yes, Peggy was angry; she was angry at the political forces that contributed to women's losses over their rights to make medical and social choices for their bodies and their lives. She was angry at a society that denied some people basic rights to health care and decent living conditions while others became wealthy. Peggy's anger was not "vitriol."

Deborah Kutzko


What Is Gender-Critical Feminism?

Chelsea Edgar's otherwise informative profile of Peggy Luhrs ["Turf Wars," March 9] omitted one notable element: a good-faith reckoning with what gender-critical feminists actually believe. Edgar nods to "the idea that womanhood might mean something more than chromosomal inheritance" without exploring what this implies and why gender-critical feminists might oppose it.

From a gender-critical perspective, defining womanhood as anything other than biological reality falls inevitably into caricature. An adult human female in a vacuum, absent cultural accretions and stereotypes, is still an adult human female; everything else is personality. Clothing, affect and even surgery do not negate the experience of growing up male or female and living in a sexed body. To put it bluntly, a woman oppressed for her physical sex cannot identify out of that oppression. Gender-critical feminists are less concerned with affirming the validity of one's subjective internal experiences and more concerned with material threats to the physical form, which women around the world still face every day.

Edgar owes it to her deceased subject to accurately depict the philosophical underpinnings of her ideas, whether or not she personally agrees with them. No one is hateful for the sake of being hateful; mustache-twirling villains are a fiction. Real people deserve more nuance than that.

Edie Quinn


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