The Week in Commentary
Why we ladies see the need for a War on Women
Shannon Drury, blogger and former president of Minnesota NOW, adopts the persona of a woman who thinks women overstep their natural bounds when they venture outside the home.
"To my way of thinking, women started this country on the road to ruin 90 years ago, when they passed that amendment that gave every adult the right to vote. At first, it didn't seem like such a bad idea — everyone assumed that wives would vote the way their husbands told them to, which meant that every married man got two votes instead of one. That sounds like a good incentive to get more fellows to the altar, doesn't it?
"Over time, though, it became clear that women were voting however the heck they wanted to, without the permission of their husbands, fathers or male guardians. It's shocking. ...
"Oh dear, I see I've broken my own rule and spoken about my beliefs in public. That ought to tell you how important this War on Women is to me. I hope you agree, and that you'll join me in not going to the polls this Nov. 6. Thank you."
"Sadly typical of NOW, stuck in the 1960s, forever fighting the good fight over concepts long since settled. ... Nothing bothers the old Feminists quite as much as telling them, as I have for 40 years, that the first female president will be a conservative." -- Terry Franklin, Minnesota
"There are still many men — and women — who believe in the sort of farcical non-sense that Shannon Drury so artfully described. Sure this sort of thinking is ancient history in some circles, but it's not in plenty of others, and those other circles are mobilizing their supporters to vote for their 'traditional values' this fall. Thank you for your creative essay, Shannon!" -- Alison H, New Brighton.
If being fat was ever an act of black resistance, it's not any longer
Duchess Harris, a professor at Macalester College and at William Mitchell College of Law, attacks the notion that African-American women want to be fat.
"I'm not sure that black women want to be fat. If they do, they've been keeping pretty quiet about it. ... While it's true culturally that black men celebrate a Beyonce butt, it hardly means that they want us to look like Gabe Sidebe. ...
"I can see how fat could have been an act of resistance during Reconstruction; not so much in 2012. ... When I lived in north Minneapolis, the grocery store didn't carry perishable food. Most of us black women don't live in 'walking friendly neighborhoods;' therefore we are fat.
"And while I think that black women need to change, America needs to change first. Black women weigh more than 200 pounds because white people gave us fatty scraps during slavery and we had no choice about what we ate. We weren't fat, then, because we did physical labor. After Reconstruction we continued to eat the scraps, but moved into less physically demanding work (if we work at all). ...
"I'll buy you a vegan meal if you can name three more black families with a 'dance nanny.' Our children aren't fat, but we spend $15,000 a year on each of them so that they aren't. If they were fat, it wouldn't be because we'd want them to be. It'd be because the government has led us to diabetes as a pit stop before the prison industrial complex. It is killing us softly, and health should be the embodiment of disobedience. That is truly an unruly black politic."
"As a member of the Hmong community, I find that my community is also in a cycle where we have not always had the privilege to learn how to eat healthy. The cycles need to break and I hope I can incorporate healthy habits to my own children." -- Danielle Lor, Brooklyn Park
"The idea that African-American men actually prefer 'big' women is an unfortunate stereotype, promulgated mostly by body-image-insecure African-American women. I am a 55-year-old African-American man. Some of the African-American women who have grabbed my attention over time include Diana Ross and Florence Griffith Joyner. My father and his cousins still talk wistfully about Lena Horne and Dianne Carroll." -- C. David Kearsley, St. Paul
Backyard chicken coop teaches family lessons known to generations past
Lucie Amundsen, a Duluth writer and graduate student, describes the responsibilities and satisfactions that come with urban chicken farming.
"They cluck softly as they peck and scratch in our little garden. Their scaly feet are from a lost epoch. And there's a real ancientness to a bird that must turn its entire head to take you in with one intense eye.
"They are living idioms from a bygone Americana. They come home to roost. They have a pecking order. And given the chance, they will cross the road. Earlier generations knew all this. Older folks I've only known in suburban settings chime in with their own youthful chicken tales. My own 78-year-old father worked on a neighbor's poultry farm when he was a kid ... back when all chickens were free range, and kids were too.
"Most surprising, our little flock has given us some much-needed knowhow. My husband, who had never built so much as a bird feeder, designed and built a coop around a salvaged skylight. And like children from a past era, my kids now do chores that involve feeding and watering and gathering eggs. ...
"As the old-timers say, we're in this from feet to feathers. One day these hens will end up in somebody's stewpot. I'm OK with that. Just don't think I'm a dilettante if they don't end up in mine."
"Lucie, great article! Your literary and physical voice are wonderful." -- Matt Dahl, St. Paul
"Excellent story! The right mix of sentiment and reality. We have dealt with the 'spent hen' situation many times in our slightly more rural property and I do wonder about all these backyard pets in a few years ... May we all keep learning as you have!" -- Gina Temple-Rhodes
Should Minneapolis City Council sign off on a new Vikings stadium?
Two members of the Minneapolis City Council discuss their disagreement on the proposed new stadium for the Vikings. Council President Barb Johnson, who supports the stadium, and Council Member Gary Schiff, who opposes it, sat down with MPR's Cathy Wurzer.
Council Member Gary Schiff: "The deal has just gotten worse since the initial deal was first rolled out, particularly for city taxpayers. More property has been taken off the tax rolls than was originally identified, and that totals half a million dollars a year of property taxes that's going to become tax-exempt.
"And over the 30-year lifetime of the deal, that's $15 million that won't go to schools, to the city, to the county and to the parks. And that was one of the things that was negotiated during the Senate and the House deliberations. ... It's time that we stop treating downtown Minneapolis as an ATM for the region.
Council President Barb Johnson: "We're talking right now about surface parking lots, really and truly, and also some public land. There's some county land involved. And we anticipate that with this massive investment, we will see development occur around the stadium that will compensate for the tax revenue that's lost off of those properties.
Cathy Wurzer: "Madame President, the sales taxes that we're talking about here would result in downtown Minneapolis being one of the most heavily taxed downtown areas in the country. Do you worry that extending the sales tax would give visitors a reason to maybe skip the restaurants and the bars in downtown?
Johnson: "We're not raising any taxes. The taxes will remain the same. They will just remain in place over the lifetime of the stadium. And it certainly hasn't deterred folks up to this point. I think if you asked our police officers about the crowds in our downtown, they'd tell you our downtown is quite successful ... .
Schiff: "Unfortunately, we should be embarrassed to have the highest sales tax of any downtown in the country."
"I stand with Mr. Schiff 100 percent on this issue. Those of us that live in or near downtown are sick of these taxes. Having the highest downtown sales taxes in the nation is an embarrassment. If the taxes are to remain in place, I can think of much better ways to spend them that would specifically benefit and enrich the city of Minneapolis." -- Matt Brillhart, Minneapolis
Why the definition of marriage matters
B. Gehling, a physical therapist and expectant father, explains why he believes Minnesotans should vote in favor of the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
"Marriage has always been understood as the union of one man and one woman. Now there are revisionists who argue that marriage needs to be redefined.
"Revisionists argue that the definition of marriage — as being lived faithfully, permanently and exclusively between one man and one woman, and open to the raising of children — now has reason to change. I see no reason. On the contrary, I see numerous reasons to amend the Constitution to uphold marriage as the union of one man and one woman. ...
"It is through bodily union, a complete giving of one's self, that marriage is established permanently and exclusively. True marriage is a free, total, faithful and fruitful giving of one to another, and this must necessarily include the body. Not only does a married couple share a union of hearts and minds that must not be broken, but the couple gives something unique to one another, something that no other friendship or relationship can give — their very bodies. ...
"The implications of not accepting the marriage amendment would affect everyone legally and possibly result in a further loss of basic constitutional freedoms. The true definition of marriage, as it has always been implied, would be changed. Since the state has now given us the choice to define marriage as it is already understood, it is our duty and privilege as citizens to vote yes for the amendment."
"The author should be more forthright about his fully implied definition of marriage he'd like enshrined in our state constitution: an exclusive and permanent joining of one man to an obedient woman who must produce children." -- Paul Metzger
"'Marriage has always been understood as the union of one man and one woman.' You lost me at the first sentence. I'm Jewish, so I've read all of MY Bible, and I assure you that marriage, as defined in the Torah, expounded on in the Mishna, and discussed in the Talmud, was defined as between one man and many women." -- Lily B, Minneapolis
"Marriage is not just about having children. Many heterosexual couples are either unable or uninterested in having children, but they are nonetheless devoted, faithful partners and productive members of society. And to say that marriage MUST include the giving of the body is also wrong. Some people have physical or medical conditions that prevent this, and yet, they too, are capable of sharing deep love and devotion with the right partner." -- Rosemary West
"Thank you for upholding the voice of the silent majority, Mr. Gehling. Studies have already shown that children raised by homosexual couples will have more emotional problems than kids raised by heterosexual couples, but that doesn't matter to those who live in a culture worshipping personal pleasure. Not only are they adamant on destroying their own lives in pursuit of pleasure, but they INSIST on bringing children into their broken lives as well. ...
"I, too, was blessed by being raised in a normal marriage. Although my parents did have their share of problems, once I started to compare myself to my friends who were raised by single parents, step parents, or unmarried parents, I felt very fortunate. There is no way to build a strong society without starting with strong, healthy families." -- Content Praiser from Minnesota