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Mail to Letters, Houston Breakthrough, P. O. Box 88072, Houston,
"A policy of corporal punishment invites abuse ..."
Other Breakthrough readers probably sat speechless with anger
and sadness after reading Melanie Mayeaux's fine story ("Violence
in School", June 1979) about blind, four-year-old Ramon Couture
and the principal at New Caney Elementary School, just as I did.
As I understand the current system, each independent school
district in the state is empowered to formulate their own policy
regarding corporal punishment; the ultimate power to limit or
prohibit corporal punishment statewide rests with the State Board
of Education and the Texas legislature.
It is a step that the Texas Education Authority's appointed
judge recommended against corporal punishment for special education students in New Caney, but it is apalling that someone, just
because he is a school administrator, can abuse a child, undoing
the patient hard work of his mother and teacher, and be exempt
from dismissal because he "did not violate any existing policy." If
anyone else in the community had done this they would have
been liable for criminal proceedings.
The current policy on corporal punishment invites abuse, and I
doubt that it provides much protection for the classroom teacher
with a violent or extremely disruptive pupil. It seems we need new
rulings to better protect Texas school children. With Ramon's story
fresh in mind it is a good time for us to write our state legislators
and the State Board of Education (201 East 11th Street, Austin
78701-best to put "re: corporal punishment" or some such at
the top of your letter). ALISON FRANKS
"Are we planning wars
for the battlefields of the 1980's?"
I am not sure you would be interested in printing something as
controversial as this letter I wrote to the editors of Science magazine last year. They have not printed this letter (as of this date).
It would seem to me that if this "war expectation" pattern
(see letter below) is ever to be broken up, it is up to women to do
so, with the help of the few reasonable men in the world who do
not enjoy even the thought of rattling swords.
I enjoy your publication. B. J. KOLENDA
Ms. Christine Karlik
1515 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
15 August 1978
I am responding to the brief article, written by Nicholas Wade,
about the XM-1 battle tank that appeared in Science (August 11,
19 78). The article mentions ". . . a weapon that it hopes will
dominate the battlefields of the 1980's." (See The Violent Sex,
Obviously, this statement assumes that there will be battlefields in the 1980's. Are we planning wars for the 1980's? How
does this type of attitude, so widespread among males around the
world, foster efforts to initially exhaust all alternatives to violent
aggression and to achieve eventual world peace?
This attitude that "war is inevitable in every lifetime"(passed
from father to son, teacher to pupil-an assumption similar to
that of assuming that baseball and football "are forever") is primarily responsible for the continuation of politically aggressive
thought leading inevitably to war and resulting in the progressive
policy of "survival of the unfittest. "A large portion of the fittest
and most intelligent males of each generation is killed on battlefields.
If the world we live in needs to kill off its surplus males, why
not institute a cost-efficient and much more humane method of
doing it? It would be less expensive to the world and would avoid
the endangering depletion of resources if that same percentage of
each generation of males was [aborted] . . . [ Therefore] they
would not need food and schooling for 18 to 24 years before
they are killed with very expensive weapons such as the XM-1.
Ten thousand abortions surely are much less expensive than one
The humane and monetary benefits would be everbroadening.
For instance, if there were no armies . . . there would be thousands fewer conceived, unwanted, and abandoned bastard orphans
for the world to feed, school, and [eventually] send out to be
killed on the battlefields . . .
If you think this letter is submitted in jest, you are mistaken. I
have never been more earnest about a suggestion in my life.
Ms. B. J. Kolenda
The women of Off the Wall Productions are pleased to announce
that their fund-raising concert featuring Sharon Lauder, Kay Gardner and Mojo (June 16) raised $720 for the Houston Area Wo
men's Shelter for Abused Women. We hope to see you at our next
production. THE WOMEN OF OTWP
"When will men do something besides extend congratulations?
I would rather have President Roosevelt say one word to Congress in favor of amending the Constitution to give women suffrage than to praise me endlessly!"
It is well to remember these words of Susan B. Anthony as
the coin bearing her likeness passes through all our hands. It will
be necessary to work very hard to get male state legislators to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Let's not let the Susan B. Anthony coin be but another of the empty gestures Anthony so
scorned! H. KATHLEEN GRESHAM
"Miss Piggy is everything
we don't want our daughters to be."
Last night I took my ten-year-old niece to see The Muppet Movie
and I was appalled at the blatant sexism in the film. Naturally,
the main character/hero was a male figure, Kermit the Frog, who
goes through a series of marvelous adventures on his way to seek
fame and fortune in Hollywood. Of the 20 or so characters in the
film, three were female. These were portrayed as submissive, non-
opinionated and stupid!
Miss Piggy was the only one of the three who had what could
be considered a major role. The audience first meets her as the
winner of a beauty contest at a country fair. She is beautiful (for
a pig), but of course, as the stereotype goes-"you can't be both
beautiful and intelligent at the same time"-therefore, the big-
busted, blonde Miss Piggy is an idiot. She leaves all of the decisions to the hero, Kermit. Waiting for the HUMOR to shine
through her demeaning role, I was saddened to find there was
none. Later, it is revealed that she possesses fantastic strength
and saves Kermit from disaster, but instead of self-recognition of
her talent, she retreats back into her old personality as stupid and
submissive. She is everything we don't want our daughters to be.
Let me emphasize that there was no humor or saving grace in
The other two female muppets were almost unidentifiable in
that they had very few speaking parts. One, a chicken, had a
tremendous (and I am being facetious here) line when she went
"ga ga" over the present of balloons that her boyfriend bought
for her. The rest of the time she was mute. The other was a
member of a rock band who seemed to be too stoned or loaded
to make much sense. Of course, at the end of the film Kermit the
Frog achieves his goal by becoming rich and famous and through
him all of the other characters are able to, also, including Miss
Piggy, the chicken, and the band member.
It is a very sad thing that children (and adults) must constantly
be subjected to stereotypes and it is especially worsened by films
such as this one. One would think that after all that has been said
and done to stop racism and sexism in our society, it is still being
produced anew in our children's films. In The Muppet Movie the
redeeming value of the humor done by the cameo appearances of
Madelaine Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Carol Kane, Steve Martin and
the rest was not enough to take the taste out of my mouth. I
strongly suggest that if the children of feminist mothers, sisters,
aunts, etc. do want to see the film-if they haven't already by
now-then, some time should be spent preparing the child to
watch for these discrepancies in the female characters' roles
and in pointing out these stereotypes. RUDYNE M. GRIGAR
"How wonderful to see the portrayal
of a competent woman!"
I wish to report a significant, though small stride forward in the
way women are portrayed in the movies. It is in the film Alien,
a science fiction shocker with few redeeming qualities. Except
that the last person left alive - the one who courageously and
imaginatively destroys the monster — is a woman, played by
Sigourney Weaver. She portrays a competent, aggressive, efficient woman without the coldness which screenwriters and directors have laid on women in the past.
Even two years ago this role with no changes would have been
played by a man. That Weaver is a woman is immaterial to the
plot. She is not a sex object and shows no skin except near the
end, when the lack of clothes makes her appear more vulnerable
to the menacing creature. How wonderful to see the portrayal of
a competent woman! For this alone I recommend the film.
Thanks so much for your support of The Dinner Party. (See "The
Dinner Party" by Nancy Lane Fleming and " Will Houston Host
the The Dinner Party" by Dianne Brown, June 1979).
I just wanted to share with you the latest problems we are facing
in getting the exhibition shown. (News clippings reported that the
only remaining scheduled showing has been cancelled. See Newsmakers page 4).
We will keep you posted on the latest news. We are getting a
flood of letters from people around the country wanting to see
the exhibition in their area. I hope that we can bring it together
for everyone in Texas. In sisterhood.
Through the Flower
Santa Monica, CA
Vol. 4, no. 6
Shirley Bryson, Melissa Hauge
Carolyn Cosgriff, Ernie Shawver
Blanca Balderas, Melissa Hauge, Gloria
Jacobs, Thelma Meltzer, Frances
Pavlovic, Debra Thornton
Janice Blue, Gabrielle Cosgriff, Susan
Godwin, H. Kathleen Gresham, Melissa
Hauge, L. Kay Little, Hattie Thurlow
Hildegard Warner, Red Zenger
Janice Blue, Gabrielle Cosgriff
Janice Blue, Melissa Hauge
Janice Blue, Tony Bullard, Bill Dennis,
Theresa Di Menno, Virginia Myers,
Danette Wilson, Janice Yeager
Janice Blue, Dianne Brown, Carolyn
Cosgriff, Gabrielle Cosgriff, Dee Dee
Hunter, Sue Maney, Karen Spearman
Mary Lou Chollar, Mary Fouts, Sue
Maney, Lynne Mutchler, Virginia
Myers, Ernie Shawver
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