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Sex All Around Us 

Letters published July 24, 2002

Rape culture hurts men and women alike:

I wanted to respond to the mention of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center in the article "Rocky River Burning" [June 19]. I was one of the presenters of the gender-sensitivity training we provided for the Rocky River Fire Department in July of 2001.

What we spoke about were issues of sexism. One consequence of living in a sexist society is what we call "rape culture" -- a culture where images and incidences of violence against women are seen everywhere: movies, music, television, and advertising. This violence is not only sexualized, but also seen as the normal way of life.

A rape culture is damaging to men as well. It leads to a misguided notion that men need to "score" with as many women as possible or that to be a real man means to disrespect women by objectification --wherein women are only as valuable as the sum of their body parts. When people are viewed as less than human, it is easier for people to commit crimes against them.

As with any presentation, we discuss ways in which men and women can transform a rape culture into one where men and women can experience sexual justice. It is crucial that we all begin to work together to end this epidemic of sexual violence.

Shannon L. Hunt
Cleveland Rape Crisis Center

Dirty old firefighters:

I have always appreciated and respected firefighters. They have always been heroes. After reading "Rocky River Burning," about the sexual harassment case involving the Rocky River Fire Department, I felt sick to my stomach. Whether or not what happened in the firehouse was sexual harassment, the actions of the firefighters are despicable.

If you must indulge yourself in movies and magazines with adult content, do it at home, boys. As for not hurting anyone by stealing cable, I ask you: What example have you set for the children who idolize you?

I went to high school across the street from your firehouse. To think that while my friends, my classmates, and I were on our way to school, you were watching us and discussing our adolescent bodies sickens me. Wearing Catholic schoolgirl uniforms, we often received catcalls and derogatory comments from idiots driving by. For some reason, I expected the firefighters, whose job it is to protect us, to do better than that.

Elizabeth Miller
North Olmsted

There's no intersection at Fowler and Sesame:

I was saddened by the events on Fowler Avenue ["Mean Street," June 26]. Poor people on streets like Fowler and thousands of others across the nation cannot comprehend an inequitable social system that gives the former head of WorldCom $1.5 million a year for screwing up, while they have to support a family on a $5-an-hour job.

But race is something they can actually see, so they wrongly lash out at others of a different color in scapegoating frustration. Of course, you do not have that kind of Fowler Avenue behavior in sedate, sophisticated Pepper Pike or Westlake. But these upper-class communities have internal mechanisms to keep out those they don't want. They do not need to resort to throwing beer cans. But rest assured, they are just as racist.

We focus, however, on the working-class white from the "wrong side of the tracks" as the poster boy of racism. Their neighborhoods are made the subjects of social engineering in a failing attempt to make them look like multicultural scenes from Sesame Street. These goals are noble, but when angry white males and black kids respond to real or imagined hurts, a volatile neighborhood brew is concocted. Ironically, liberal-minded social planners have pitted the white and black working classes against each other. Let's create plenty of jobs from the billions our government wastes trying to solve other nations' problems. Then perhaps racial problems will recede.

Stanley J. Niemiec

Why slam a world-class athlete?

Your publication is often well deserving of the accolades that are noted just a page or two following the article "Friedel's Scam" [June 26]. I'm at a loss, however, as to how some pointless and asinine article like this can find space in your paper.

The article is a rambling mess and a far cry from anything that represents professional journalism, not to mention the fact that some guy from the area performs remarkably well at the world level and then gets slammed simply because some idiot apparently does not recognize the achievement involved. Many of us would rather watch baseball, football, or hockey. Soccer is what it is. The achievement of a local guy is what it is. And unfortunately, the article is what it is.

John L. Reubach Jr.


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