Reader K.H. doesn’t care for our coverage of Betty Friedan’s death (see The Other Charlotte’s “A Few Words About Betty Friedan,” Nov. 6, and “Friedan’s Second Wave: A Second Wind for a Flailing Movement,” Nov. 6):
“Like Betty Friedan or not, the women just died— your writing is in very bad taste. You can make the same comparisons and arguments after a little time has passed, out of respect for the dead. You will no doubt want the same when Phyllis Schafly passes away from those on the other side of the political fence.”
Let’s lay down a bet, K.H. I buy you your very own copy of “The Feminine Mystique” if a single self-proclaimed feminist columnist–Ellen Goodman, Maureen Dowd, Molly Ivins, Susan Estrich, you name her–has a single good thing to say about Phyllis Schlafly when she passes to the great hereafter. You buy me my very own copy of “A Choice, Not an Echo” if the feministas give Schafly’s virtues a pass.
That said, yes, to be sure, Friedan undoubtedly wasn’t all bad: she worked hard, she raised children who did not become drug addicts or criminals, she probably never cheated a soul out of a nickel. And she did recognize, if rather belatedly, that there was something to be said for home and motherhood. There. We’ve said it. We’ve paid tribute to Betty Friedan’s good points. As for her less-than-good points–matters not of her personal life but of her public advocacy, women and men all over America are still picking up the pieces.
And reader N.Y. comments on my assertion that of the five Academy Award nominees for 2005, the only one I’d actually like to see is “Capote” (see “America’s Weirdest Academy Award Noinees,” Nov. 6): :
“Oh, do, indeed, go to see ‘Capote.’ It is as fine and chilling a dramatization of narcissistic self-destruction as I have seen since — hmmm — “All About Eve”–perhaps.
“[Truman] Capote’s homosexuality is treated only peripherally (although it’s clear that he is attracted to Perry Smith, and that the beloved waiting patiently at home is another man, that’s about the extent of it. Catherine Keener is splendid as Harper Lee, behaving with dignity and grace. She genuinely seems to love Capote, maybe because of the child he was, while trying to awaken the conscience and lance the boil of the ego of the irritating man he has become. Capote is the spiritual ancestor of the fake memoir-writers and death-row-hero worshippers of our time… this film shows the dawn of that madness.”
Great recommendation, N.Y. From everything I’ve read, “Capote” is a brutally honest study of a flawed and talented human being, not a sentimentalized broadside like “Brokeback Mountain.” You’ve sold me on buying a ticket.