- The Washington Times - Monday, January 8, 2001

Socialist paradise

"A female prostitute in Havana is rather descriptively known as a jinetera, or jockey… .

"Officially, there are jobs for all in socialist Cuba. But the average monthly wage is equivalent to $8. To survive, plenty of people are on the make. So depending on his preference, the tourist to Cuba has no trouble at all finding someone to ride his little race horse… .

"Besides kicking out the Yanquis and redressing the island's extremes of wealth and poverty (the wealth is all gone now, and everybody is poor), Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution set out to purify the people's behavior. Cuba would no longer be the 'whorehouse of the Caribbean.' Female prostitutes were offered training as drivers and secretaries; those who demurred got holidays in prison. Homosexual men were spared the retraining programs and sent directly to jail or to forced labor in the sugar cane fields… .

"Cuba's official repression of homosexuals has ended, although other forms of repression remain… . Officially, prostitution has been eliminated, but the wrecked economy forces many people to sell their bodies… .

"Poor Fidel. He tried to rout the Yanquis; 40 years later, the U.S. dollar is the only currency in Cuba with any value… . He made honest women of the hookers, and now every other person you meet is some kind of whore."

Jonathan Lerner, writing on "Whorehouse of the Caribbean," Thursday in Salon at www.salon.com

No love, no more

"There are not many public discussions about love in our culture right now. At best, popular culture is the one domain in which our longing for love is talked about. Movies, music, magazines and books are the place where we turn to hear our yearnings for love expressed.

"Yet, the talk is not the life-affirming discourse of the '60s and '70s, which urged us to believe 'All you need is love.' Nowadays, the most popular messages are those that declare the meaninglessness of love, its irrelevance. A glaring example of this cultural shift was the tremendous popularity of Tina Turner's song with the title boldly declaring, 'What's Love Got to Do with It?' I was saddened and appalled when I interviewed a well-known female rapper at least 20 years my junior who, when asked about love, responded with biting sarcasm, 'Love what's that? I've never had any love in my life.' "

Bell Hooks, from her new book "All About Love"

'Feminist dreams'

"Call it the Monica Lewinsky view of life. [Feminist authors Jennifer] Baumgardner and [Amy] Richards want to revel in their youthful sexual power with the approval and respect of their frowning feminist mothers. But what happens when that sexual power wanes? 'Younger women certainly harbor a fear of being old ladies,' the authors confess. Their solution? 'As young women we have the opportunity and the responsibility to change the rules about who is sexy while we're still young and sexy and have the power to attribute sexiness to women of every age.' What can one say to two young women, now already in their 30s, who remain so sexually ignorant? Fearful of adult responsibility, locked in an extended adolescence, these 'girlie' feminists are a help to no one and a threat only to themselves.

"There is indeed a 'gendered' relationship between sex and power: Young women have a sexual power that men can only dream of… .

"Feminist dreams of sexual sameness in the pursuit of power are doomed to be frustrated by another, subtler gender difference: For women, power is not just power, it is also sexual power. Henry Kissinger famously quipped 'Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.' But who believes that being appointed secretary of state enhanced Madeleine [K.] Albright's sex appeal? The psychic rewards of power differ for men and women."

Maggie Gallagher, writing on "Three Faces of Eve," in the Jan. 22 issue of National Review

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