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King's Queens

June 23, 1991

It's distressing to note, with growing frequency, that a mean-spirited misanthropic attitude (which some may misidentify as feminism), keeps cropping up in the Book Review.

In a May 19 review of Christopher Hibbard's "The Virgin Queen" and Carolly Erickson's "To the Scaffold," Florence King states that "She (Elizabeth I) knew that men, for all their protestations to the contrary, secretly despise feminine traits." Do we indeed, or does that view of men merely reflect Ms. King's own hostile projections, her protestations to the contrary?

Unfortunately, Ms. King piles secret on secret when she fails to tell us what these so-called feminine traits are, but as a writer and licensed psychotherapist, I am hard pressed to come up with one human trait whose ownership can be claimed by either gender. . . .

And of Marie Antoinette's apology to her executioner after accidentally stepping on his toe, Ms. King refers to this as an example of the fear of not being "nice" that has victimized women through the ages.

Perhaps. But the Pope's forgiveness of his would-be executioner and the visit to his jail cell may have more in common with Antoinette's apology (noblesse oblige?) than with her allegedly repressed personhood.

EMANUEL PELUSO, DEL MAR

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