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May 05, 2004



This is a wonderful post. Tim O'Brien is one of the most intelligent, reflective minds to write about war. I spent a year in combat in Tim's war. It's an experience that needs to be written about, because people shouldn't have illusions about it. Yes, women are just as capable of greatness, glory, evil and atrocity as are men. They may not do so as often, but the human potential is there. My learning: women are not superior to men, or visa-versa. Men and women are human. What can you do with this information? All we can do is acknowledge reality when we see it, so we are never blind to it. Accepting reality is sometimes like loss, we have to mourn it: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. So we can begin in a new place and move on to something better.


I have to ask, as a man, why did you and all the other feminists, think in the first place that women are not capabale of the worst acts of humanity? Why did you place yourself above men? Why did you assume that women somehow naturally carry saint status, whereas men are somehow naturally tainted?

You've addressed something that has had me deeply angry toward feminist women for a long time. While in college I deliberately took many feminist classes in order to try to understand what I, as a man, had to learn in order to truly understand equality. Instead I recieved disdain and closed ears and minds, women who already knew all the answers, and a rage toward men that refused to recognize that I was standing right there trying to reach across the gap. To be rebuffed like that... well, it hasn't sat well.

Then I see a post like this. A woman who is willing to open her mind. To see herself as just as human as men. And willing to doubt all the dogma. To me this is like a bright light in a dark room. When men and women can talk like this and question the presumptions they carry, all things are possible.


Gosh, I'm really sorry about the multiple trackback posts to your site. I'm not sure what happened, since I only sent the trackback once. Please forgive the nuisance and remove what you feel ought to be! Thanks.


Perhaps this is elitist of me, but I tend to see feminists and feminism as an evolutionary process. I don't think 'feminism' is an end-place. Therefore, I am very careful to not place all women who call themselves feminist in the same category--because that is not respectful of all the differences among women who call themselves feminist.

All of that to say, that as I read the post, a part of me went, Yeah, back in my early 20s, I would have had the same observation as this person, believing the scene described to be 'misogynistic.' I like to think that over time, I've honed my understandings of feminism, and misogyny, its roots, and how to recognize and fight against basic human injustice.

It has never surprised me, though, that women carry out such acts as the scenes of torture we've been privy to. I even balk at the surprise and outrage of the media at the thought of suicide bombers who are female. We are all capable of such things. No one can make a judgement--good or bad--on an entire group of people (well, they can, but there are always, always exceptions, some beautiful, some vile, and everything in-between). I personally like to explore those in-between places, both in my writing, and in the people I meet. I refuse to live in such a binary world.


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