July Letters: How orchestras succeed….

Readers respond about how orchestras succeed, feminism across generations, the Women's World Cup, Diane Burko's photos, Margaret Barringer on messages women send, Jim Rutter on Raphael Xavier, Dan Rottenberg's apology about sex abuse; also about artificial amplification in theaters, Midnight in Paris, Spider-Man, The Pirates of Penzance, the romancing of cancer, and about composers Kile Smith and Andrew Rudin.

How orchestras succeed

     Re “How today’s orchestras succeed,” by Clarence Faulcon—
     Orchestra success and use of the Internet? My thinking suggests, "Approach with care and caution."
     Though well intentioned, there exists a wide gulf between our wishful thinking, many unsubstantiated proclamations, and existing number-based facts in regard to the orchestras mentioned by professor Faulcon. By itself, the Internet may or may not be the solution. But it should not be viewed as a panacea.
     To me, Faulcon's article would be strengthened with a bit more hard-nosed evidence.
Richard Greene
Ardmore, Pa.
July 20, 2011


     Interesting article. Professor Faulcon says: "This approach can be very effective at enticing audiences. The more those who love certain orchestral pieces can learn about them through the Internet, the more they enjoy those pieces and want to familiarize themselves further. This process ultimately attracts them to live performances in the concert hall itself."
     Was this comment based on a particular study or research? I would be interested in seeing such data.
     Is the plethora of classical music online a gateway to attending live concerts, a substitute for it, or neither? I think many people are making certain assumptions about all this and, possibly, nobody really knows for sure; I am just not aware of good research on the topic (and some significant resources are being devoted to online engagement).
     The fact that certain orchestras involved in these approaches are experiencing fewer financial difficulties does not, of course, mean that there is necessarily a causal relationship here.
Philip Maneval
Executive Director
Philadelphia Chamber Music Society
Center City/ Philadelphia
July 22, 2011


Women’s Liberation, across generations

     Re Dan Rottenberg’s column on “Feminism, from my generation to yours” (Editor’s Notebook)—
     As a professor who has taught Interpersonal Communication for about 30 years, with a unit on appearance and its messages, I recently asked three scantily clad females in my class to walk through the cafeteria, shadowed by male and female observers from the class. They were to note the reactions of the students in the cafeteria as the females walked by.
     The females, with lots of breast exposure and two with the tops of their butts exposed, caused a stir, even a sensation, according to their classmates.
     When they all returned to the class, the scantily clad females had mixed emotions upon hearing their classmates’ consensus. On one hand, they basked in the attention. On the other hand, they adamantly felt that the law protected their right to wear whatever they wanted to wear. At no point did they even consider consequences.
     As your classmate at Penn, I come from a generation that paid attention to nuance and to much more. We had jungles ahead, and all we carried were a few machetes with which to clear a path.
     I often ask the scantily clad students in my class if they understand that, given the nature of humanity, they might be encouraging precisely the behaviors that you feared. They tell me they never think about it. Yet they all know people who've been raped.
     Tara Murtha, the Philadelphia Weekly writer who authored the first scathing piece about Dan Rottenerg’s column on “Male sex abuse and female naiveté,” said that many women she knew had been raped. But she never bothered to examine those stats or their causes.
     The accusations against you have been out-of-line with the Dan Rottenberg I know, and the caring father of two daughters. As a woman, as a teacher and as a mother who cares for the safety of her own daughter, I echo your cautionary voice.
     I can tell you that a major difference between young men and women today and those of yore (a category to which we are apparently relegated) is that their sense that the world begins and ends with their notions, their opinions, their particular reality or virtual reality. These prevail, utterly. History, ancient or recent, has barely any meaning for them; their attention spans are short; their sense of self-righteousness is grandiose; and they want to be heard.
     Now, tell me: Under these conditions, from what sources shall wisdom come?
Dea Mallin
Center City/ Philadelphia
July 20, 2011


     Like so many, I was initially outraged by your original editorial. Now, I want to thank you for creating such an interesting open forum for a discussion on the issue of violence toward women. Who would have thought that BSR could have as much of an impact on this subject as Ms. Magazine?
Good for you.
Nan Gilbert
Lansdowne, Pa.
July 20, 2011


Women’s World Cup

     Re “A lesson from the Women’s World Cup,” by Tom Purdom—
     These were all great, close games, which made the experience all the more exciting. A shame more Americans didn't pay attention to it, but as one pundit said, the only way you could get Americans to pay less attention to soccer was if you served it with vegetables.
     These were all great teams, they all played with rugged determination. Every country in there should be proud. Our team lost the finals, but, damn, they played a great game.
Gregory Frost
Merion Station, Pa.
July 20, 2011


Diane Burko’s photography

     Re Martha Ledger’s review of Diane Burko’s photographs at Locks Gallery—
     I loved the you-are-there details of your trip to Yellowstone, and for capturing what makes these landscapes so wonderful!
Libby Rosof
South Philadelphia
July 20, 2011


     Martha Ledger's evocative article worked well with Diane Burko's brilliant photography. The description of Burko's risk-defying attitude to her art adds to one's appreciation of the photographs. There is quite a "Wow!" factor here. I loved Ledger's humor— the bears— too.
Marion Blackmer
Ajijic, Mexico
July 26, 2011


What messages do women send?

     Re “What messages do women send?” by Margaret Chew Barringer—
     Brava for an excellent and thoughtful article! As a specialist in visual literacy and visual communications, I have long propounded that what each of us chooses to wear each day speaks volumes about who we are and what we value.
     Picking up from the last sentence, I was told by the bride's uncle, at my son's wedding in 1994, "We men truly are ignorant. We just hate admitting it. What we need is for women to educate us, enlighten us about our boorish ways, in such a way that does not demean us, for we, whether we admit it or not, are sensitive creatures..." The woman who so educated him, was the president of a prestigious women's college five years his senior, whom he married after years of philandering!
     Uncle's stellar advice permitted me to find a gem-in-the-rough man with whom to engage in a mutual education of one another and proceed to joyous marriage until "death did us part" three months ago.
     While this story is personal, perhaps it's time the message goes global. Only good can come from opening this dialogue.
Deborah Curtiss
Germantown/ Philadelphia
July 11, 2011


     I agree that technology has made it simultaneously much easier and more difficult to communicate. The anonymity of the Internet has twofold dangers regarding ideas, I think:
     1) Obviously, as in the responses to Dan Rottenberg's essay, people take license to disagree in ways that are horrible and personal, ways that they likely wouldn't employ face-to-face. Being right trumps the effort to present one’s side passionately but respectfully.
     2) The abundance of discussion forums on the Internet is great, when they work well. But I think it's really easy for some forums to become insular; people have knee-jerk reactions, they're "virtually" surrounded by others who agree, and the potential for critical thought is crowded out by a virtual mob mentality.
     There's just no substitute for face-to-face communication. It’s hard to maintain our own humanity without eyes to look into.
     That said, I disagree that girls and women grow up in the equality Barringer describes, only to have it later “stripped away” from them. From my limited perspective as a 30-year-old woman, I would say that gender discrimination is less culturally acceptable now than it was (depending on the culture). This is a good thing, but also sends sexism underground, where it becomes insidious and sometimes more difficult to counteract. We've made progress, but we're not "there."
     To put a finer point on it: Different values are assigned to womanhood than to manhood. This isn’t a bad thing (men and women are different, after all), except that those differences are still very mired in the old “classic” stereotype ideas. Even in 2011, assertive men are powerful and assertive women are bitches; boys are valued for their rough-and-tumble qualities, while girls are valued for their cuteness and femininity; boys are expected to fight, while girls are expected to please and make peace.
     Empowered young women like me have to fight upstream while simultaneously trying to change the current itself. I think that’s one small part of why many women reacted so strongly to Dan Rottenberg’s essay: Not only do we have to fight harder than men do, but then someone throws in there that rape is our fault, too (as it read, whether or not that was Dan Rottenberg’s intent).
     I disagree strongly with many of the ideas in Dan Rottenberg's essay, but I believe just as strongly that his voice is valuable to this discussion.
Lisa Campagna
Tampa, Fla.
July 12, 2011


     Margaret Barringer replies: The first image that comes to mind when I ponder the anonymity of the Internet (and the passions that were vented over Dan’s truly innocent comment) is that of my kindly, placid dog, Lucy, who when sitting inside my car, turns into a snarling, barking maniac when she sees other dogs walking by outside on the street. Being trapped inside the car behind the invisible glass makes her go crazy, because she cannot touch or smell those other dogs, which is her most immediate need and most powerful instinct of survival. Not only has an entire generation grown up since the Internet was born, but the street itself has become so crowded with every breed of dog that it’s difficult to know right from wrong, good dogs from bad ones, dogs that will lick you, or dogs that will kill.
     From a distance, an older gentleman like Dan could easily be seen as a pit bull on the attack, but it is impossible to tell through the computer screen. Anyone who has seen him riding through the streets on his bicycle for the past 40-plus years, much less met his wife and daughters, perceives him as an entirely different human being.
     Because I grew up decades before the birth of the Internet, I remember when men were the Thinkers, and women were the Doers. Men went off to college, got the jobs, made the money, and women stayed home to cook, clean and raise the children: all highly tactile jobs that require their fulltime physical participation. Plus, back then, they menstruated monthly and realized every single time that they had sex that it might lead to pregnancy: all direct sensual realities, not constructs of the mind.
     The poet Etheridge Knight used to say that women were the “glue” of society; and without their sustained input, life as we know it would fall apart. Every single man in the world (gay or straight) is both intrigued and threatened by women’s core, raw, instinctual powers of survival. My own mother was born before women could vote! Now women are just beginning to get a perspective on themselves— and, even more importantly, finally beginning to see the dual nature of men.

Raphael Xavier’s choreography

     â€œThe genius of Raphael Xavier,” by Jim Rutter, was an incredibly well written article that portrayed what I felt watching the same two pieces by Xavier. I think many people in the dance community have not recognized the enormous talent this man possesses.
Bruno Migliazza
Penrose/ Philadelphia,
July 14, 2011


     "Mouth hanging open." This is an amazing write-up! Thank you, Jim. Artists don't always feel like people understand their work, but he clearly understood it better than even I do. This is the best article of my work I've seen... ever! I think it's called progressing.
Raphael Xavier
South Philadelphia
July 13, 2011


Midnight in Paris

     Re Dan Rottenberg’s review of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris—
     You nailed the Woodster! But where do we see Portrait of Jennie?
Reed Stevens
Campbell, Calif.
July 13, 20111
     Editor’s note:
Any video store should carry it. Or for $7.49, try Amazon.

Editor’s mea culpa

     Re “An apology about sex abuse,” by Dan Rottenberg (Editor’s Notebook)—
     Thank you Dan. You did the right thing and this feels like a genuine apology. You listened to those who challenged your opinions and learned.
     It’s a rarity to see an editor admit he has been wrong and to apologize to his readership. It will go a long way in putting this matter to rest.
     If one good thing came out of this, it is that words and compassion matter, and everyone's voice is vital if we are to understand each other.
Lew Whittington
Center City/ Philadelphia
July 5, 2011


     When I read your original essay, it was like being punched in the gut and the face at the same time. After reading the comments, your initial response, and now your apology, I am glad to see that you have come to realize that what you wrote affected people in much the same way it did me. If nothing else, at least this horrible discussion has helped you (and perhaps others) better understand the complicated issues of sexual violence.
     You are correct that our current system of justice doesn’t adequately address sexual violence. While that point was completely lost in your initial essay, it is something that needs to be further discussed in a more open way.
     I understand that you have received a lot of fallout from this. As a woman who has been subjected to unasked-for groping since I developed breasts, I can't say that I feel sorry for you. I hope that you, and others, really have learned from this experience.
Kristen Thomas
Eugene, Ore.
July 5, 2011


     While many disagree with Dan's article (because of the use of rape as an example), there is truth to some of what he was saying. Attractive women do distract men and alter their thought patterns.
     An interesting article in the July 20111 issue of Scientific American (“"Beauty and the Beast," p. 24) shows that men, after seeing pictures of attractive women, take risks as ways to display to women their bravery. War is another way to take risks and show bravery, while also opening an opportunity, through rape, for men to father more children.
     The disturbing part of the study was that men, after being shown pictures of attractive women's faces, were more likely to agree with supporting war, while men shown unattractive women's faces did not. In other words, the man’s thought patterns may change upon seeing a beautiful woman.
     When there is an elephant in the room, there can be a lot of collateral damage. I wish I had the courage to do what you do. It is really irritating that people get upset when they see something they severely disagree with. When I worked as a scientist, I led a journal club and found that people hate to argue. Without arguing we will not find the truth.
     Think of jazz: To learn to improvise, people make many mistakes and learn to see that the mistakes were really gifts in disguise. So it is better to have discussed this issue.
Connie Briggs
Abington, Pa.
July 6, 2011


     I regret all the abuse you have received in response to your sex abuse column. As discouraging and disheartening as much of this event has become, your articulate, humane and rational prose in your June 28 column elucidated the vision of Broad Street Review as well as your consistent ability to provide quality and sometimes dangerous journalism.
     There is presently so much fear and intimidation in regard to articulating views on potentially emotional, complex issues. The BSR process targets critical and challenging topics and allows writers and readers the space for thoughtful and informative discussions and reflections. Thank you for your honesty, courage and commitment to such an effort.
Lisa Hemphill Burns
Germantown/ Philadelphia
July 6, 2011


     I still think you a twerp for several reasons, the main one being that the crime of rape isn't about sex with sexually mature women in their prime who struggle. If it were, children, men, boys and 90-year-old grandmothers wouldn't get raped.
     What really bugs me, though, is you had a valid point in there. We really do need to protect ourselves. Use our common sense. Not tempt fate. But it got lost in your quest to get a reaction.
     All that being said, I'm equally annoyed by the fact that thousands are now calling for your firing. Yes, you are a pot-stirring prick on purpose, but that's your damn job. It really bothers me that people think they can get you fired simply because you voiced an opinion. People trying to silence you is every bit as wrong as what you posted.
Arlene Green
Clearlake, Calif.
July 4, 20111


     You fail to acknowledge that while women are told what not to do, the reason behind these precautions is never really discussed. Don't go out at night (even if you can only get a job on the third shift and need to provide for your family). Don't wear revealing clothing (even if it's 101 degrees and you can't afford air conditioning or you work outdoors). Don't end up alone with a man (even if you thought you were with friends).
     Women need to hear from survivors of rape in order to understand what they can do to avoid rape.
Moll T. Burns
Sandusky, O.
July 6, 2011


     Here in Perth, a woman was carjacked when she stopped, mid-afternoon, to help someone with a flat. What was she asked? "Why would you, a lone woman, put yourself in danger by stopping?" Somebody please tell me what the heck is wrong with this view!
     You, at least, have begun to recognize what most women and some men have accepted: It is not any victim’s fault.
Inez Northover
Perth, Australia
July 6, 2011


     Your “mea culpa” of July 5 describes the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case as an issue of a “predator” vs. a “liar.” That description is incomplete— it is likely that both persons involved in the DSK matter are predators.
Bourne Ruthrauff
Center City/ Philadelphia
July 5, 2011


     My assumption is that you are only apologetic because of the backlash toward your ignorant words. It’s probably time you just retire into the sunset. I hope that by the time my six-year-old daughter grows up to be a young beautiful woman, men like you will no longer be an active part of society.
Shawn Glazier
Malone, N.Y.
July 7, 2011


     Editor's note: To read my response, click here.

     Dan, the apology is very much appreciated. However, your view of "Well, I guess I have nothing to contribute, so I'll step out of the conversation" isn't helpful at all. Why not become an active opponent of rape culture? Why not learn from this and speak out rather than retreat?
Susanne Collins
Jenkintown, Pa.
July 6, 2011


     I’m not interested in the apology. Too little, too late.
Laura Robin
Bloomington, Ind.
July 8, 2011


     Predatory males will never change. There will always be men who, given the opportunity, will rape women. It doesn't at all matter what you wear, ladies. The only answer to force is greater force. Take martial arts classes, carry weapons that you know how to use and have the will to use. If a man attempts to assault you, kill him. That is how you "avoid" being raped.
Kim Beachem
Coral Springs, Fla.
July 11, 2011


     Even though I do not share your views on the subject, I still want you to feel supported as one of the best writers and editors for miles. You may sound arrogant at times, but, seen from a wider perspective, your theater articles stand out among American theater reviewers.
     I regret your illustrating your outrageously sexist article with an out of context picture. However, I value your contributions to theater life in Philadelphia as much as before. And I do not know of any publication, here or abroad, where an editor opened as many doors to a free flow of information as you have done through the Broad Street Review.
     Maybe the pain that many of us experienced, including your own sleepless nights, might have helped us to listen to each other more than before— and therein lies hope.
Henrik Eger
Upper Darby, Pa.
July 11, 2011


     Enough already! We knew what you intended. You simply moved from one idea to another without paying attention. You were tired and wiggy.
     You have not raised the rape rate. You only advised us to avoid criminals, who will always be among us. Feminine outrage won’t change that.
     Rape is a criminal variation of assault, like manslaughter and murder. It’s also an act of war. Soldiers rape to humiliate the vanquished and to spread the blood of the conquerors.
     Get a night's sleep. We need you.
Reed Stevens
Campbell, Calif.
July 6, 2011


     Thank you for showing yourself to be the person who I have always had the utmost respect for and have admired. You were my first editor. While I was personally shocked and astounded by your original column, I do believe it has served a purpose. It highlighted the need for public dialogue and sincere efforts to combat this type of ignorance surrounding sexual violence. (In fairness of disclosure, I should mention that my daughter is an organizer of SlutWalk Philadelphia.)
Valerie Drake-Altman
New Port Richey, Florida
July 12, 2011


     Have you considered the possibility that, not having a "superior" to answer to, thus having no one to dismiss you, may cause feel a bit too powerful? It is that abuse of power— whether it be used in rape, as you pointed out, or through words that may cause unnecessary pain or even as an excuse to commit a horrendous act— that is the danger. If you have obtained power from any means, it is imperative that you have enough intelligence to use it with caution and for the benefit of society instead of the detriment.
Tracy Thomas
Monticello, Utah
July 18, 2011


     Editor's note: To read a response to my column by Margaret Chew Barringer, click here. To read another letter, click here.

Sex abuse and Dan Rottenberg’s column

     Re “Lessons from a controversial column,” by Dan Rottenberg (Editor’s Notebook)—
     Your mea culpa response to your original article sounds both insincere and markedly lacking in any real remorse for insulting so many, many good women who have never ever asked to be raped. I do not advocate violence, but I don't believe your "I was just starting an argument either." I will never donate to the Broad Street Review or organizations that support you. I will tell others how offensive you are.
Carol Marie Clark
New Bern, N.C.
June 28, 2011


     This "explanation" of your article falls far short of an acceptable apology for your hurtful and thoughtless column. An admission that it was poor judgment on your part to have ever brought Ms. Logan ordeal into any conversation on the topic of a woman's appearance leading to sexual attacks was simply beyond the pale and I think inexcusable.
Richard Salzman
Humboldt County, Calif.
June 30, 2011


     I was going to sign the change.org petition, but decided that I needed to take a minute for the rage to cool down. I then read your article and your updated response, which changed my mind. Instead, I decided to respond here.
     I agree that you have a right to say what you think. I also believe that progress comes through open, honest, and thoughtful communication. Note that I said "thoughtful." Did you really think through the basic assumptions behind your argument?
     What you seem to be saying is that women should take responsibility for their actions, but men are not responsible because they just can't help themselves.
Leanne Young
North Little Rock, Ark.
June 29, 2011


     You still fundamentally do not understand what rape is about. It is not about what someone looks like. It is about power. And anything that obscures that— such as your column and its blaming women's 'naiveté' and dress— only serves as implicit approval for rape culture. Your entire column was about what women should do. It needs to be about men. Women won't stop rapes happening— only men will. Next time, address your advice to men.
Zelda Harper
Sydney, Australia
July 2, 2011


     I wanted to address your points about a free press and the marketplace of ideas. Ironically enough, you fall into the same naÓ¯ve trap that you argue against when it comes to rape. Isn't "the antidote for “bad” ideas is better ideas" kind of similar to "the antidote for rape is political change"?
Anne Mecklenburg
University City/ Philadelphia
June29, 2011


     You still don't seem to understand the problem. It's very simple. You blamed the victims of rape by saying they invited rape with their choice of clothing.
     You had nothing to say about rape being a crime of violence, not sex. You had nothing to say about a rapist's lack of control over their base urges.
Holly Crocker
Portland, Ore.
June 30, 2011


     I think it was brave of you to write a response. Your original column might have been boneheaded, but you acknowledged it and the lessons learned from reactions to it. The discussion of ideas is important to our society and our civilization. I am also glad you suffered the education you received. You will be a better editor and writer for it.
Kate Harper
State Representative
61st Legislative District
Blue Bell, Pa.
June 29, 2011


     You ask, “What have I learned?”
     I have learned that even though my male boss required all wait staff to wear shorts it was my fault I was raped because I wore them. Even though my male boss made all staff park at the end of the car park (condition of employment) with little lighting, it was my fault I was raped because I parked there. And because a man happened to be out there trying to break into cars at 1 a.m. and saw me a decided to rape me, it’s still my fault he raped me as I was the one who put myself in his way and that time and I did not consider his “primal” urges.
Jen Farmer
Perth, Australia
June 29, 2011


     I was assaulted while wearing a baggy sweatshirt and overalls. Apparently the guy did not like that attire either because he used a knife to cut off my clothes. Perhaps I need to learn how to dress in a different manner so men do not have the compulsion to cut my clothes off.
Ann Johnson
Lincoln Neb.
June 30, 2011

     I am glad you wrote this article.
Jen Allen
Des Moines, Iowa
June 29, 2011

     There are a few inaccuracies in Dan Rottenberg's account of Lara Logan's assault. Ms. Logan wasn't "gang raped." As she recounted in her “60 Minutes” interview, her assailants penetrated her vaginally and anally with their hands, sticks and other objects. But as she was carried and thrown through the crowd for 20 minutes, it was never possible for her to be held down and raped by several men. In Ms. Logan's own account, she first heard men in the crowd say, "Let's take her pants off," and immediately following, "She's a Jew. Get her." She was targeted for being a woman and likely because she's a pretty woman, but fervor was also enhanced by the mob falsely calling her Jewish.
Elizabeth Dilts
New York
June 28, 2011


     You ask for good ideas to follow bad ones. Meanwhile the women's movement, which you claimed to be a part of, has created answers. Three years ago a woman nearly won the Democratic nomination for president. And right now the Republican Party has two women— one a former beauty pageant contestant— as serious contenders for president.
     The world is indeed changing. Though some sexual animals see otherwise, mankind as a whole is looking beyond Ms. Logan’s cleavage and is viewing the whole person. A new generation of evolved men is taking charge, side by side with women. I hope you may likewise evolve, but I won't hold my breath.
Philip Bennett
Brooklyn, N.Y.
June 30, 2011


     I do not believe that Mr. Rottenberg was entirely off the mark. Women are liberated in a sense and they do have the right to dress how they feel they want to. However, there is still an appropriateness that I feel is sometimes missing. Just because we have women's rights does not mean that we are justified in walking around practically naked and not expecting some unwanted attention. I think that Mr. Rottenberg had a justifiable point, but that maybe he just did not describe it in exactly the right manner.
     What do we expect of men when we leave nothing to the imagination? Not all men become rapists because they see a woman looking provocatively, but can you blame them for looking?
Amanda Hertlein-Martin
Oak Harbor, Wash.
June 30, 2011


     I recently read a statistic that claims that in Islamabad, Pakistan, in 2007, 260 women were gang raped, and 1,996 were raped. I'm asking you to imagine, if you will, a woman dressed in a full burka, with only her eyes visible.
     Why are these women still getting raped? There is no skin showing, yet what are they doing wrong? Is it maybe a signal they're sending off? A blink of an eye? Please enlighten.
Katie Kelly
San Rafael, Calif.
June 29, 2011


     In your column on “Rhetorical tips for Dr. Laura,” (Aug. 31, 2010), you seem to be teaching a poignant and ironic lesson you failed to apply in a future column, Dan:
     "When you deprecate other people or groups, it’s mean and malicious. If you want to have fun, point your gibes in your own direction, not someone else’s."
     "It’s OK for underdogs to make fun of overdogs. Humor, after all, is one of the few tools the poor and the meek possess to make it through their otherwise gloomy days.
     â€œSo, yes, it’s OK for the poor to tell jokes about the rich and powerful but not vice versa. It’s similarly OK for blacks to make jokes about whites, for women to make jokes about men, and for gays to make jokes about straights, but not the other way around."
     "It’s a rule I’ve tried to live by ever since: Don’t criticize people for things that aren’t their fault."
Westin McDorman
Flagstaff, Ariz.
June 29, 2011


     Any reasonably educated person understands that rape is about power dynamics and anger and feelings of insecurity by the rapist.
     I hope that the editor has learned this lesson fully by the response to his column. I suspect from his response that women need to hear his "truth" from other women means he hasn't. But, honestly, the lion's share of the anger toward him is fed by the tendency of men with Mr. Rottenberg's mindset to rarely change their opinions; no matter what nonsense they spout about provoking dialogues. Too many people consider themselves to be "devil's advocates" but are really Satan, as illustrated in the Book of Job.
Joel M. Rice
Braddock, Pa.
June 28, 2011


     Dan Rottenberg's article was exactly what he says he is trying to create— discussion. Even furthermore, his article was an editorial, a place where one should be entitled to their opinion, let alone the fact we're in the United States.
Josh Edgar
Martinsburg, W. Va.
June 29, 2011


     You might find this Sondheim lyric very apropos of your subject:
“Beauty
Can't be hindered
From taking its toll.
You may lose control.
Faced with such Loreleis
What man can moralize?”
Karl Middleman/Artistic Director
Philadelphia Classical Symphony
Center City/ Philadelphia
June 29, 2011


     I would like to speak to the notion that women should live their lives afraid of the world and men. This becomes exhausting. I have a small notebook where I record the number of times I cannot look left because I don't want to "encourage" a man who is staring at me. I have another small notebook full of hash marks for every time I couldn't look right.
     If I lock myself away, I am denying myself the right to be a full participant in society. This is the most offensive piece of the statement that women should not be so naive. None of us are naive. We are all fighting the societal pressure to be terrified, and only a few of us have succeeded.
Sarah Murphy
Kansas City, Mo.
June 23, 2011


     I am amazed at the limitation in the thought pattern of the comments posted. The commentary Mr. Rottenberg presents should be considered a wake-up call for all who claim not to know where the male gender is coming from.
     I grew up under the sole guidance of a man, who was deadly honest in advising me how to navigate with men. And it is without doubt that if a woman brings a provocative stance to the mix, the overall message becomes sexually charged.
     As a female reporter, I have been long been concerned with the mixed message promotions regarding Lara Logan, because she and the network traded in on her blond hair, blue-eyed look. Kudos to Logan for going public— and to Dan Rottenberg for putting additional power to truth.
Bobbi Booker
Center City/ Philadelphia
June 24, 2011


     If you can't behave yourself with the waitress or the reporter or an intern or your neighbor, it is utterly your problem and your lawyer's.
Ari McKee-Sexton
St. Paul. Minn.
June 24, 2011


      I have news for you: I have plenty of male friends who would not rape me if I were to go to their house, and in fact would make sure I get home safely. Why? Because they respect me and other women as a human beings.
Jane Endacott
Portland, Ore.
June 24, 2011

     Well, I'm not joining the petition drive to call for your removal from your job, Mr. Rottenberg. In fact you're doing your job-- writing commentary that gets attention and brings readers like me to your site. But I do find your comments about Lara Logan offensive and in poor taste. She was not wearing a cocktail dress in Tahrir Square the night she was assaulted. In fact, what really incited the crowd's violence was someone's (erroneously, but who cares?) shouting out that she was a Jew. I'm guessing by your name that you might be able to relate to what I'm saying when I say that, as a woman, I find your take on this as stale and irritating as you might find it if I were to say that she was just asking for violence by appearing Jewish in public.
     My experience with men generally gives me a higher opinion of your sex than you seem to have.
Carol Poole
Seattle, Wash.
June 29, 2011


     Of course it is wise for women to take precautions in dealing with male strangers and acquaintances. Girls and young women should hear this and they should hear it from their fathers and brothers, grandfathers and uncles, teachers and boyfriends in addition to the women in their lives. I know my daughter heard it from not just my mother and me, but from her stepfather and older brothers and uncles. Such precautions will not prevent men from being rapists; it will only provide women with knowledge and ability to avoid some potentially dangerous situations.
     In order to prevent men from becoming rapists, men need to step up.
Stephanie E. Butcher
Leon, W. Va.
June 29, 2011


     We should all act in a way that indicates we understand what the dangers are when we put ourselves in a strange and hostile environment. And not blame everyone and everything else when stuff happen that we didn't expect and couldn't have controlled in the first place. We all just need to take responsibility for our own actions (especially during a revolt) and learn from the experience.
Maurice Watts
Houston, Tex.
June 29, 2011


     I am a 34-year-old woman and I totally agree with you! Of course no one has the right abuse or assault another person, but as a woman, you have be careful. You can’t walk around half naked and not expect negative attention.
     Some friends and I went to club a few years ago and a girlfriend of mine had a micro-mini skirt. All night men were trying to put their hands up her skirt, harass and sexually assault her. Of course these men were wrong, but she had on whore's uniform.
Nikki Norris
North Philadelphia
June 29, 2011


     How would you actually like it if we all were wearing big grey overalls? That's the logical implication of your argument.
Kine Johansen
Tromso, Norway
July 1, 2011


     Of course we all recognize your legal right to say whatever you'd like.
     But for those of us calling for your resignation or replacement, the implication of your opinion piece (that potential rape victims who are women bear some responsibility in preventing rape) is as offensive a notion as John Galliano's "I love Hitler" rant or Gilbert Gottfried's jokes about the Japanese tsunami, both of which resulted in the firings of those two men.
     And those two men were offending people on their own time-- you propagated your archaic sexism at your job.
Kelly Dalton
San Diego, Calif.
July 1, 2011


     Editor’s comment: This isn’t my job. I edit BSR in my spare time, two days a week plus odd hours after work.

     What does wearing a dress that shows your cleavage have anything to do with being taken seriously as a journalist? What Lara Logan wears has nothing to do with her ability to perform as a journalist and she’s a fantastic one at that. Clearly she wouldn’t be winning numerous awards if how she dressed had something to do with the quality of her journalism. Lara Logan can do anything she wants and wear whatever she wants because it’s a free country.
     Men should never try to have sex with a woman unless given permission. Men should be able to contain and control themselves. Raping a woman shouldn’t even be in the male psyche.
Candice Roberts
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
July 12, 2011


….How to respond to Dan

     I still think both Madeline Schaefer (“Sex abuse and Dan’s column”) and Dan are missing the point.
     Whether Dan Rottenberg intended it or not, his article definitely places the fault of rape at the feet of women. That is the problem. The entire fault must lie with the men who carry out those actions.
Daniel Ueda
West Philadelphia
June 28, 2011

     Clothing is a cultural custom and the disagreements of what constitutes correct responsible clothing indicate a cultural divide. I have lived in Hawaii, Sri Lanka, and India. Merely 100 years ago, women and men were accustomed to topless dress in these places. With colonialism and the cultural mores instituted by authorities, women were forced to give up their comfortable clothing choices for fitted stuffy corsets and shirts.
     As a woman who occasionally enjoys the nude beach, I must point out that there are many places in the world where people can sunbathe or swim nude without fear of harm or even the evil eye. The degree of clothing or complete lack of it is a non-issue, because the culture of the nude beach is accepting and safe.
     Mr. Rottenberg's statements regarding Lara Logan indicate he holds a subscription to a cultural history that disregards women. I kindly suggest he analyze why he has held on to this belief system for so long and perhaps he will find it in himself to drop the negative cultural subscription and move on to a healthier and more balanced perspective.
Shannon Lee Gilmour
Montpelier, Vt.
June 28, 2011


     Don't get mad at Dan Rottenberg's words. He knows that most females are not harmed by old men, but by males of the same generation – because too many younger males are violent.
     Madeline Schaefer, I’m not blaming women. I'm just saying that I would not walk blithely in the Arizona desert, with my head filled with silly "progressive" notions, unmindful of the rattlesnakes lurking there.
Rosamond Kay
Germantown/ Philadelphia
June 29, 2011

     I don't think you are capable of learning from this column. It truly showed your ignorance and sexism. For example, we had an 85-year-old woman raped four or five years ago from our area. I don't think she was putting herself on display, which is what invites rape in your world, or flaunting her body.
Brian Questel
Wooster, O.
July 2, 2001


     The problem with writing about sexual violence directed at women by men as if it is natural and unavoidable is that it helps continue the social narrative that sexual violence directed at women by men is natural and unavoidable. (Don't want to be drenched in a thunderstorm? Bring an umbrella. Don't want to be raped? Wear a turtleneck.)
     Instead, we should be fostering discussions that portray men's desire to conquer an unwilling sex partner as horrible, unnatural, monstrous, and the worst kind of criminal behavior.
     This is the only way the long-term "political" change to which you refer can take place.
Kelly Dalton
San Diego, Calif.
July 5, 2011


     Editor's comment: Many of the criticisms of my columns on sexual violence are indeed valid. To read my apology, click here.

Spider-Man

     Re the reviews of Spider-Man—
     A thousand years from now, what will futurists study about the human race? Answer: The musical culture that was passed on to future generations. This is why Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark is so important— it’s passing along our culture. Spider-Man is spectacular!
Nancy R. Distefano
Plainview, New York
July 7, 2011


Why the mikes?

     Re the Jackie Atkins review of James Braly’s Life in a Marital Institution, at the Wilma—
     Seeing both Braly's awkward performance and Colin Quinn's equally uninspired show across the street (Long Story Short, at the Suzanne Roberts), I was struck that both actors amplified their voices electronically in intimate theaters (each under 400 seats).
Why the mikes, guys? Does this say something about the monologists— neither are primarily stage performers— or our modern preference for loud?
     In both cases, the amplification worked against one of live theater's key pleasures: the sense of being in the same room with the performers.
Mark Cofta
Ridley Park, Pa.
July 10, 2011


Pirates of Penzance in Oregon

     Marshall Ledger’s review of The Pirates of Penzance brought back found memories of my introduction to the theater at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. As a student at the University of Oregon, I volunteered for the festival. For two summers I labored in the backstage and took tickets at the gate. In my third year I graduated to front of the house. I like to believe, I put the S in the trumpets. Thank you, Marshall, for kindling kind thoughts of the Bard under the stars.
Jackie Atkins
Northern Liberties/ Philadelphia
July 9, 2011


What’s cancer really like?

     Re “The romancing of cancer,” by Robert P. Levin—
     A terrific piece. Hard-hitting, powerful, one punch landing after another, and a jaw-shattering last sentence. Delivers a corner of existence we don't want to think about, but rings of unflinching truth.
Bob ("The Other") Levin
Berkeley, Calif.
June 29, 2011


     Alas Robert, there is no reason that you're here and your friend is not—at least no reason that would matter to us. Like everybody else, us cancer hobbyists are living with a death sentence and there's nothing to do about it.
     What we can do is something like what your first doctor suggested: live life intensely now. Eat the damned eclair! Open that special bottle! Write a letter to the Broad Street Review!
Lynn Hoffman
Mount Airy/ Philadelphia
June 29, 2011


     Editor’s note: The writer writes the cancer blog www.radiationdays.com.

The Crossing and Kile Smith

     Re “Kile Smith’s music for the stoic heart,” by Tom Purdom—
     Couldn't pass this without commenting on Kile Smith's extraordinary sixth movement of The Waking Sun. Following on the raging, fugue-like fifth movement— “A king is he who has no fear”— Smith created a beautiful tapestry of vocal sound in the "While on such beauty the lover gazes" finale to the piece. The movement succeeded in raising the composition as a whole to a masterful level, both showcasing The Crossing's choral chops and conveying the moving humanity of Seneca's thought.
     That sixth movement, I believe, earned the piece a rare standing ovation from The Crossing’s concert audience.
Sara Legard
Cinnaminson N.J.
June 29, 2011


Andrew Rudin retrospective

     Re Tom Purdom’s review of the Andrew Rudin 40-year retrospective concert:
     How wonderful, Andrew, and you deserve it. You have worked hard but you enjoy it and you have the gift of talent. That is what makes success! Not only that, now you are a legend. You music will continue for generations, and you are still going strong. No telling what other beautiful music you will come up with!
Gretchen Wildon
Houston, Tex.
July 3, 2011