July 2017
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letter to Oprah about the mag vs. 'lolita' book recommendation


Dear Oprah,
I recently picked up several old copies of your magazine at a used book store, curious to see what all the fuss was about. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that your magazine is very uplifting and encouraging, with a true focus on helping women to live our best life. Because I was so impressed and inspired, I am writing you about a glaring discrepancy in the June 2003 issue -- I believe that you want to help women and girls, and will want to make a change when you read what I have to say.

In your Bookshelf article for the June 2003 issue, Ann Patchett recommends the book Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. She mentions that the book is "about a man's affair with his stepdaughter" and goes on to praise the artistic skill of the writer. First of all, a child cannot have an 'affair' because a child is not capable of making the choice to have sex. It is molestation or rape, sexual abuse -- NOT a "romantic and sexual relationship" (as the dictionary defines 'affair'), and the implication that it is the choice of the child is absolutely devastating to anyone who has been a victim of childhood sexual abuse. If a person were to create a painting of a man molesting a child, would you comment on the lighting, the choice of colors, the intricacy of brushstrokes? No! You would say that this is glamourizing abuse, and is a very negative thing for anyone to look on. Yet because of pretty turn of phrase, you are willing to dismiss the pain and suffering of more than a third of women. The most recent studies state that 38% of women are molested or raped as a minor. This is not something that can be cavalierly dismissed -- and I do not consider it 'art' to glamourize the horrifying devastation of so many women. What I found even more appalling was the aption on the side of the page, "books that made a difference." What kind of difference has this book made? I shudder to think about it. The very concept of a seductive adolescent girl, or a 'Lolita,' is the justification many victimizers use. To suggest that the victim wanted the abuse is to exonerate the perpetrator.

Again, the reason I approach you about this is because I believe that you do want to help others, especially women and girls. I fervently hope that this was merely an oversight, and not something that your magazine has done on more than one occasion. ---

I had to trim out some of it because they wanted 2000 characters or less, but that's the gist of it. I do hope for a response, but I feel better just having sent it; it was really bothering me until I sat down and wrote it out. In fact, I feel so much better that I am thinking of joining a community to post some 'unsent letters.' hmm.
connecting: ,


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on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.