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'Word Warriors' Should Cap Poison Pens

July 01, 1990

The point of Edward Iwata's article describing the feud between Asian-American writers Maxine Hong Kingston and Frank Chin ("Word Warriors," June 24) was well-taken. It struck me as a fitting parallel to the overwhelming alienation that dominates the power struggle between the sexes in our society today.

As a writer, I can appreciate the courage and dedication both authors share to commit their visions to paper. Both have been willing to face and rename the ghosts and demons of their Chinese souls. They may not be soul mates or even approximate the male-female polarity and relationship that Henry Miller and Anais Nin had in their day, but they do have a strong basis for mutual support and respect. Their intentions--to examine and expand the integrity of their culture--appear to be carved from the same piece of marble, but their styles differ, something that seems to be less and less tolerated today due to the growth of hypercritical and hate-driven standards.

We're learning that something backfired in the feminist movement. The shattering of the old myths has not brought about a new vision shared between men and women as expected. We women assumed men would cheer us on (at least eventually). Yet the outcome seems to be that men feel abandoned and women feel unsupported.

If it's true that Chin's acknowledgment or befriending of Kingston would "betray his life's work, the justification of his rage," and that Kingston "might tarnish her (feminist mother) image if she publicly admitted Chin helped shape her writing," then I feel terribly despairing. If these powerful, literary pioneers can't take the next step toward facing each other's demons, then perhaps the very souls of all races are doomed to shrivel.

KAREN KAYE

Los Angeles

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