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Mucho macho. (reader forum).

Norah Vincent unwittingly stumbled upon the subtle connections among gender, eros, aesthetics, and nationalism in her column "In Praise of Machismo" [Last Word, June 11]. However, she confuses some very important boundaries that couldn't be more important today. The masculinity we see circulating quite madly in the media is not simply erotic gender play. It is, in fact, part of a larger attempt to aestheticize and eroticize war and violence and is also linked to a conservative politics of gender being promoted not so subtly by the Bush administration. It is not only the images of masculinity embodied by the "friendly fireman" that we are seeing (and desiring) but the image of the soldier, toting his rifle, reestablishing America's dominion over the globe. This dominion, the erotics of which Vincent accepts so unreflectively, is linked in important ways to newfound successes by the Right to reestablish control over the territories associated with gender by denying funding for abortions in third-world countries and by attempting to enforce heterosexuality as a condition for welfare funding in the United States.

Hypermasculinity (and hyperfemininity) can be fun when limited to the bedroom and other erotic zones, but when the aestheticization and eroticization of machismo enters the national political sphere proper in the way it has today, we should be perhaps less flip and a bit more reflective and critical.

Chet Meeks, Albany, N.Y.

I can't decide if Vincent is being disingenuous or if she is really that socially retarded that she is only now waking up to the fact that it is possible to have a very strong, very legitimate "aesthetic" appreciation of the special qualities of the opposite sex without there being the slightest hormonal involvement. Gay men have recognized the reverse for decades and realize it almost from the moment they realize they are gay.

Gregg Lauterbach, Jackson Heights, N. Y.

Norah, if you need to get your engine greased by a man, I won't hold it against you. The only two things I hold against any woman are playing the victim and not taking responsibility for her actions. Just do me two favors: Realize that courage comes in all shapes and does not require a penis and that dykes are not necessarily want-to-be castrated men.

Deborah Aloisi, Indianapolis, Ind.
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Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Jul 9, 2002
Words:379
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