- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Feminist follies

“For a cadre of elites, ‘feminism’ becomes a rallying cry to crush ‘patriarchy’ as the source of women’s problems and to champion all women as ‘victims.’ These views quickly coalesce into an extremist agenda that is both radically chic and politically correct. Even today, the early views of Gloria Steinem influence college coeds.

“Steinem, though now married, used to say, ‘You become a semi-nonperson when you get married.’ She also talked about married women being ‘part-time prostitutes’ and called marital bedrooms ‘settings for nighttime rape.’ …

“Steinem’s own divergence from the values she lauded for over 30 years should be a red flag to any person who looks for life’s meaning in the principles she so adamantly and forcefully paraded before women for three decades. Yet, sadly, her popularity among college students remains high; she regularly fills up auditoriums when she is scheduled to speak and her increasingly more outrageous and radical ideas remain influential.”

Janice Shaw Crouse, writing on “I Am Woman; See Me Soar,” Monday in Dot.Commentary

Wide loads

“As we Americans are getting bigger … so, too, is our stuff. …

“Irwin Seating, a Michigan company that supplies the AMC and Regal cinema chains, has found that the movie theater industry now demands increasingly wide seats: The standard width used to be 19 inches, but now, according to Irwin, the bench mark is 23 inches. A popular Irwin model, the ‘Ambassador,’ is 23 inches wide, includes flip-up arms for easy access, and a drink holder wide enough to hold a 44-ounce soda. …

“Supermarket aisles used to be about 5 feet wide; they are now 7 to 7½ feet. This trend is not meant to accommodate larger shoppers, according to industry insiders, but rather to allow for larger carts. … The larger carts allow for larger products — the 4-gallon drum of mayonnaise, the jumbo pack of pork chops — which are made for bargain shoppers with larger appetites. …

“If we reduced the size of our stuff, would we shrink accordingly? Maybe, maybe not. But in the meantime, there’s one thing we can be sure of: We’re more comfortable. Who wants to return to the days when you had to squeeze by other patrons in the supermarket? … Bigger is better.”

James Verini, writing on “Supersize It,” March 3 in Slate at www.slate.com

Rock triumph

“Rock ‘n’ roll represents the final triumph of what Cynthia Ozick has called aural culture over literate culture. … When anything can be made to last forever, the process is inherently deflationary — too few lives chasing too many memories. For respite we cleave to monuments: Elvis, Dylan, the Beatles. …

“[I]n an age of recording devices and mass commercial exchange, people don’t ask of a piece of music ‘Is this beautiful?’ based on, say, its proportion and harmony. They say ‘This is me’ or ‘This is mine,’ because it evokes intense feelings of personal allegiance. About our favorite music, we’re essentially saying, ‘This reminds me of me’ — which isn’t as vacant as it sounds. The burden of good taste is simply thrown back onto the lives of listeners, about which we can ask the traditional questions: Are they unique, self-examined, full? Or common and unreflecting?

“The question is only more vexed in a culture in which every sound can be preserved, high and low hopelessly jumbled, genius and detritus lying so close together.”

Stephen Metcalf, writing on “Wading Into the Aural Tide,” Monday in the New York Observer.

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