Dish Readers Rule

by Hanna Rosin

From the e-mails I've gotten, I can see that you are a smart, thoughtful, highly informed bunch. Also obnoxious sometimes. I'm sure you know that. Here are some of the issues I've written about that Dish readers have moved me on.

1. Katie Roiphe. I've had several friends and strangers write to tell me that their experience of early motherhood was nothing like hers. The baby was collicky, they were bored, and Roiphe presumes a certain common experience that does not exist. I can sympathize with that, more than I can sympathize with complaints that she is unfair to feminists.

I'm also a mother of a six-week old baby. I don't feel what she feels. I've had a handful of days where I've gone back to work for a half-day and it's been wonderful, like returning to myself. ..Now, here's the thing about my description of my days with my baby that I just gave. I used "I" and "me" and "my." Katie Roiphe uses "you" and "one" just as much as she uses personal pronouns. She is making her experiences universal to all mothers and that is a huge problem.

2. Circumcision. The number of responses has been overwhelming, and I am still sifting through them. I am certianly not convinced that this is a trauma for babies, or that it ruins your sex life. I get that some men feel about this the way 1970's feminists felt about abortion - It's my body, hands off. I always found that particular pro-choice line crass and unconvincing but hey, men can use it too.  On the question of whether it helps prevent the spread of HIV and STD's, and particularly whether the Africa studies are applicable to the U.S. - I have to confess, I'm not sure yet. I will do my homework and address the subject on my own site,

3. Kennedy and our prurient minds. From a reader.

Actually, I think the reason there are so many searches for Kopechne and Chappaquiddick today is that for many younger people, the TV obituaries for Kennedy are the first time they have heard about this, or certainly the first time they had some reason to look into it.  And many older people, even those who lived through it, may want to refresh their minds about it.  I don't think it shows some prurient secret personality of the public.  Perhaps that exists, but this is not proof of it.

4. Caster Semenya, the South African runner. Here, I've gotten only incoherence about testosterone in sports and proper roles for the sexes. Well, gender roles are changing, and sports and religion can't stop that, sorry.

5. The cats. I've received several love poems to cats. I can only respond with the damage my own have caused so far: scratched up my two favorite rugs, ripped the curtains, decimated the local bird population. But my daughter does so love them.

That's all for now. It's been a thrill interacting with such a live, vibrant organism.