To the editors:

I wonder sometimes if the editorial staff at the Reader, if such a body exists, is making an effort to alienate its female readership. If so, you’re making progress with this woman.

I read, in the June 19 issue, a work of–what?–fiction, I suppose, called “Woman in Custody, Officer in Extremis.” After about the third paragraph, I didn’t want to read anymore. But I read on, just to see how much more offensive it would get. Much more, as it turned out.

The scantily clad, vulnerable, dainty, “delicious” female falls into custody of the duty bound cop. He doesn’t want to arrest the sweet young thing (“She’s only 26. A baby”), but the tough, “mannish” dispatcher–a woman–can’t be lied to and so the dainty “creature” must be arrested. The thought of her in handcuffs gives him an erection. She cries; he gets an erection. Putting her in “the cage” gives him an erection. The thought of her in a jail cell gives him an erection. The idea of her being searched (“Was it a strip? Did she do body cavities?”) gives him an erection. In other words, any way that she can be bound, restricted, or humiliated gives “our hero” a boner.

Mexican men are depicted here as “mysterious” illegal aliens with a threatening sexuality who would gladly “help” the little victim (by gang-banging her, we are led to presume), from whom the white woman must be protected. This is the classic racial stereotype presented in pornography.

Homosexuals are presented as idle men loitering around forest preserves, “waiting for their dates.” You know how homosexuals are, nothing better to do but hang around the park picking up strays.

I could go on and on with this analysis. Basically, “Woman in Custody” is soft-core porn. Woman as victim, man as super-sexed authority figure, homophobia, racism, misogyny–all elements found in standard hetero pornography. Why is this in the Reader?

Calm down, you say. This is a piece of light fiction, provided for the entertainment of our readers. If your readers find the debasement of women entertaining, or the depiction of policemen as middle-aged boobs who can’t keep their pricks out of their work entertaining, or the perpetuation of bigotry entertaining, then I must not be one of your readers.

India Malsnack

W. Winona