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Comments: April 28, 2008


1. If the reaction to Amanda Fortini’s essay about Hillary Clinton and feminism (The Feminist Reawakening,” April 21) is any indication, the wounds from the hard fight for the Democratic nomination will not heal quickly. Which is not to say there wasn’t plenty of rah-rah support for Fortini’s account of how the primary has prompted a fourth wave of feminism. Blogger Ashley English described it as “a really excellent recap of the role that gender has played in this election”; the Medicine Balls blog noted that it “changed my vote for Hillary from a maybe to an absolutely.” But some accused Fortini of being late to the feminist cause. “I don’t know about you,” wrote the G Spot blog, “but I think a lot of us were awake already, thank you.” Along the same lines, a commenter on wondered if Fortini has encountered as little sexism in her own life as she thought, citing a classic, still widely tolerated, double standard. “Have times really changed so much that in Ms. Fortini’s day, a girl could screw half her classmates and be known as a stud, instead of as a slut like she was in my day? I doubt it.” Then there was the matter of how much Clinton bashing comes from sexism and how much comes from legitimate differences of opinion and/or reservations about her record. “I think the mistake here is to conflate the opposition to Clinton with the way that opposition gets expressed,” wrote one reader. “There are very profound reasons to oppose Clinton. Once a negative opinion has been formed it’s not surprising it would be adorned with language that plays off her gender. So yeah, there’s a bit of sexism there—but that’s not what’s driving things here ... Hillary really is losing on her own merits.” Another added that the knee-jerk support for Hillary among some feminists is itself a problem: “To argue that the election of a female president is so important as to utterly trump any concerns about that female’s suitability or political and ideological dispositions is solipsistic and irresponsible.” Finally, one commenter scolded us for attributing the phrase invisible women to Tina Brown; credit is due the late feminist author Carolyn Heilbrun. And one reader noted, “I find it ironic that New York publishes an article railing against sexism, but then sanctions a cover story in which John McCain is labeled a ‘geezer.’ What about ageism, people?!”

2. David France’s portrait of the noted AIDS doctor Gabriel Torres and his descent into drug addiction (Another AIDS Casualty,” April 14) struck a deeply personal chord with many readers who shared remembrances of Torres on “Gabe was heroic to the residents and staff of the AIDS Resource Center (now called Bailey House) in 1986 when he and a nurse named Joanne Staats made home visits to take care of the many formerly homeless men and women who were dying,” wrote Gina Quattrochi, the CEO of Bailey House. “Few others were willing to cross through the front door. He is always welcome here.” Several former patients posted comments as well, including this one: “Unlike many doctors I had been to, he never rushed me out of his office, he always had time to answer any and all of my questions. Over the years, under his care my health improved. If I had a setback, I could tell it upset him. He really cared about the people under his care. I cried reading this article, it is so upsetting. The man saved my life.” There were also several requests from readers who wished to help Torres now, to which France replied, “Mike Barr, who worked for Dr. Torres at St. Vincent’s, has said he will serve as coordinator for efforts on his behalf, and can centralize information about Dr. Torres’s progress. Mike can be reached by e-mail:” There has already been an outpouring of support, and the latest news is that the attorney general’s office dismissed one of the drug charges last week.

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