- The Washington Times - Monday, October 10, 2005

‘Raunch culture’

“Raunch culture, which is essentially misogynist, callow, simplistic and ubiquitous, breeds women-hating women who angle for power with men and propagate more raunch under the deceitful guise of feminist empowerment.

“Thus women are burdened with the usual demands to be sexy … only now, ‘because we have determined that all empowered women must be overtly and publicly sexual, and because the only sign of sexuality we seem to be able to recognize is a direct allusion to red-light entertainment, we have laced the sleazy energy and aesthetic of a topless club or a Penthouse shoot throughout our entire culture, ‘ [Ariel Levy writes in her new book, ‘Female Chauvinist Pigs’]. …

“The biggest lie of pornography’s ascendant place in American culture is the notion that it has somehow made us all more free. … [W]omen today have only themselves to blame. They produce HBO’s ‘G-String Divas’ and work for ‘Girls Gone Wild’; they gobble up porn diva Jenna Jameson’s book; and if they don’t audition for Playboy’s 50th-anniversary casting call, they read the magazine, which is run by a woman, too.

“Playboy empress Christie Hefner, Hugh’s daughter, sees no contradiction between her stable of bunnies and the two women’s organizations — Emily’s List, a fundraising tool for pro-choice candidates, and the Committee of 200, a mentoring and scholarship group — she founded.”

Christine Smallwood, writing on “Girls gone wild,” Wednesday in Salon at www.salon.com

Art for art’s sake

“Art … has increasingly become the province of wonky specialists and private interest groups. There are many good writers who love art, but it used to be that great writers wrote often about it: Proust, Diderot, Baudelaire, Zola, Balzac, Tolstoy. They wrote in the spirit of the amateur — that is, for the love of it, because art, like other rich social and cultural topics, provided them with the necessary tools: good stories, characters, dramas, philosophy.

“If surveys are right, more people today visit art museums than go to ballgames, so millions are clearly looking for something from art. But so much art criticism feels exclusive or condescending. …

“Art is too important and interesting to be left to the art world.”

Michael Kimmelman, writing on “Art After Marcel Duchamp, and Other Woes,” Oct. 4 in Slate at www.slate.com

‘No advances’

“Thomas Edison was a great inventor but a lousy prognosticator. When he proclaimed in 1922 that the motion picture would replace textbooks in schools, he began a long string of spectacularly wrong predictions regarding the capacity of various technologies to revolutionize teaching. To date, none of them — from film to television — has lived up to the hype.

“Most were quickly relegated to the audiovisual closet. Even the computer, which is now a standard feature of most classrooms, has not been able to show a consistent record of improving education.

” ‘There have been no advances over the past decade that can be confidently attributed to broader access to computers,’ said Stanford University professor of education Larry Cuban in 2001, summarizing the existing research on educational computing. ‘The link between test-score improvements and computer availability and use is even more contested.’ …

“Recent research … indicates that students who frequently use computers perform worse academically than those who use them rarely or not at all.”

Lowell Monke, writing on “Charlotte’s Web Page,” in the September-October issue of Orion

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