I would like to thank former Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love for being brave enough to open up about his mental health. In a message discussed in a March 6 blog post by the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand, Love described exactly what an anxiety attack feels like and the shame one feels having a terrible illness that no one can see. He is helping to make depression and anxiety not such a taboo topic. Every person who shares such a story will make it easier for people to talk about mental illnesses, and we can only hope that someday the stigma and discrimination will disappear. It is difficult to live with these illnesses, but feeling like you need to hide away in isolation is by far worse. Everybody is going through something.
Tama Kerber, Excelsior
FEMINISM AND ABORTION
Where there’s common ground, and where there’s consistency
I’d like to suggest another possibility to the two women who took differing stands in this paper on the issues of feminism and abortion (Readers Write, Feb. 26 and March 5). Since the 1970s, when feminism took root in our culture, I’ve considered myself as a prolife feminist. I know some readers will not go there with me, but there may be others who will. I would argue that prolife feminists and prochoice feminists support a common agenda, perhaps 99 percent of the time.
Imagine this — we may all support the following for women and their children: (1) easy and safe access to non-abortifacient birth control and education; (2) high-quality health care; (3) adequate nutrition, housing and education; (4) high-quality child care; (5) paid maternity and paternity leaves with job protection; (6) career options such as flextime and job-sharing; (7) income assistance to women who choose to stay home to care for small children — and disabled children and elderly relatives; (8) community shelters for pregnant women, along with parenting classes and a means to continue their education; (9) shelters for battered women; (10) tough laws against pornography that features violence, children and incest; (11) nondiscriminatory housing for single women with children …
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Prolife feminists are credible because they are consistent. They are not the evangelicals who go as far as to vote for Donald Trump (and who want to remove contraceptives from health coverage, defund Planned Parenthood family planning programs and teach abstinence-only in schools, not to mention eliminate the social services needed by women and their children). Are they incapable of any analysis that would suggest their policies only make far more pregnant women far more desperate?
Prolife feminists oppose violence, nuclear buildup, capital punishment, unfair imprisonment policies, war, pollution and all anti-life activity. I know I won’t sway women who strongly support abortion rights. (And, frankly, I am uninterested in the views of men.) I just ask you to think about it, and I encourage all of us to work together on the 99 percent we agree on. I, for one, can envision a just world where we oppose all forms of violence and work together to achieve high-quality lives for all women and their children.
Jackie Brux, River Falls, Wis.
FASHION AND SEXUALIZATION
That you-should-cover-up impulse has issues of its own
Regarding a March 7 letter stating that women will have achieved equality “when cleavages in public are rare to nonexistent.” Really? The lack of freedom in choosing their clothing equals equality? I must be on a different planet.
Jeffrey Krasky, Minneapolis
• • •
In Margaret Atwood’s novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Aunts” wear long, modest, brown dresses; “Marthas” wear dull green robes; and “unwomen” wear gray robes. The “Handmaids”? Bright-red dresses capped with stark white bonnets. The bonnets were designed to obscure vision, and the red dresses to look like wombs. Makeup was illegal for most. Of course, there were the “Jezebels,” or as would have been described by the first of the two March 7 letter writers bemoaning Hollywood woman’s attire, “sex queens.”
Frances McDormand, who the letter writer thought did not make herself look like a sex queen at the Academy Awards, wore a full gold intarsia dress by Valentino and a minimal touch of makeup with a bit of frosting on her hair tips. Oh, yeah, earrings too. It is hard to know how this would have played out in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The writer asked, “Wouldn’t it be exciting if more women followed McDormand’s example?” I’m for it, but guessing it would be expensive for many.
The same writer preferred that female attributes be kept to their biologic purposes: feeding babies and (I infer) having babies and locomotion. To heck with shaving legs, etc. To keep things even, I’m guessing she would like men to stop with the bathing, shaving, deodorant and attempts to look “put together” and well-dressed: Broad shoulders, nice hair and good teeth best are kept to hauling heavy manly items, keeping warm and chewing.
Other recent letters suggest it best if men and women are separated during work or, if they work together, that dating or e-mail expressions of friendship be prohibited. Any conversation or humor with any kind of sexual overtone is, of course, verboten activity.
It would make sense if the hoped-for toned-down male fantasy world were more the norm, but the same should happen for women: There go the romance novels, the daytime soaps, Oprah, Dr. Phil, “Sex in the City” reruns, and other sources of female fantasy.
I’m not sure where the “inclusion rider” that McDormand mentioned at the Oscars comes in on all this; maybe we should ask Garrison Keillor, since his show had more than one-third of its writers from minority groups and a large number of women performers. Heck, he even described Lake Wobegon as a place “where the women are strong … .” But maybe asking Keillor wouldn’t be seen as such a good idea.
You know, things really are getting confusing.
Paul Bearmon, Edina
• • •
Regarding the second of the two March 7 letters on fashion and sexualization, perhaps the writer — who declares himself ahead of the curve but says revealing dress simply makes men think about sex — needs a refresher in the ways of self-control.
For example, I could flip the bird to jerks who cut me off in traffic. They were driving like idiots; they probably deserve it. But I won’t, because it’s not a terribly constructive or kind thing to do. I could eat that second cookie. It’s just sitting there, going stale, waiting to be eaten. It’s one of those amazing chocolate cookies from Rustica; I don’t know how I couldn’t eat it. But I won’t, because what I should really be doing is drinking more water. I could leer at and hit on my personal trainer. He’s gorgeous, and ripped, and he wears tight shirts or no shirt at all. He’s every girl’s dream to have as a personal trainer. Why wouldn’t I take advantage of that and flirt a little? He’s the one flaunting his body and wearing the tight shirts. But I won’t, because he’s a personal trainer, not a personal piece of candy or art to be drooled over or stared at. Sure, the thoughts are there (women, too!), but that doesn’t mean you act on those thoughts. May you remember your Lao Tzu: “He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.”
Anna Maher, Minneapolis
A message from a young, concerned citizen
I’m 7 years old. I’m writing because I’m worried about guns. People have been dying recently because of guns. Can we ask grown-ups to at least make assault rifles gone? Better still, make all guns gone.
Owen Edwards, Roseville