Dear Mr. Cockburn,
I read with interest your column “Support Their Troops?” and your exchange with Phyllis Bennis in the most recent issue of The Nation. The points you make strike me as incisive and worth thinking about.
Nonetheless, as a feminist and someone concerned with the impacts of language, I wanted to call your critical attention to your own word choice. Especially when the scholars you argue with are women, I’d urge you to avoid characterizing their strong words as hysteria or their ethical reservations as distaste for the “Not Very Nice.” Nothing in Ms. Bennis’ letter struck me as prim. The notion of the hysterical woman, since Freud — and the irrational, emotional woman long before that — has been systematically used in the West to discredit women’s opinions and actions. Best to engage the important issues at hand directly and respectfully, without the distraction of sexist tropes.