Cockburn and Women

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Fri Nov 12 14:46:31 MST 1999

Here is Katha Pollitt's response to Cockburn's letter.


Subject:  women?feminism?
     Date:  Fri, 12 Nov 1999 12:42:50 -0500
     From: Katha Pollitt <kpollitt at>

I've been following the discussion flowing from alex's column with some
bemusement.  How quickly the talk moved away from issues of women,
feminism, sexism, Satanic panic -- the things alex and I were both
supposedly writing about -- and moved into the usual androcentric
grooves: militias, Doug versus Alex, etc. I would think it would be at
least a little bit interesting that Wendy Kaminer, cited by alex as a
"good" feminist" on the ritual abuse issue, criticized him severely in
the same letters column as Doug!



I'M PUZZLED BY Alexander Cockburn's attack on Katha Pollitt for her
recent column on the notorious Amirault child-abuse persecution in
Massachusetts ("Wild Justice," 10/27). It Is true that Pollitt was
late in recognizing the injustices visited upon the Amiraults and
other people imprisoned for imaginary acts of child abuse. Still,
the worst you can say about her column is "better late than never. .
. .
It is not true that a few columns by Pollitt would have convinced
Gloria Steinem and the editors at Ms that claim about recovered
memory, the ubiquity of child abuse or the existence of Satanic
cults were unfounded. Cockburn greatly overestimates Pollitt's
influence on the Ms. crowd, as well as the rationalism and
fairmindedness of those feminists who rallied behind all the
self-proclaimed victim of abuse. As he must know, many were simply
not open to reason.

Pollitt may have missed the story that Cockburn and Dorothy
Rabinowitz covered so tenaciously, but it's not as if she was
sitting home eating bonbons. She was writing about other injustices,
like welfare reform (which I have never addressed). None of us can
cover every story or advance every important cause. And if Pollitt
erred in her earlier assessments of wrongful child-abuse cases, she
had the grace to admit her mistake, which is surely more worthy of
praise than scorn.


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