1. Education

Jane Fonda and POWs: One Out of Three

Another Myth of Women's History

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Jane Fonda in 1971

Jane Fonda in 1971

Anwar Hussein / Hulton Archive / Jane Fonda

They started coming in the winter of 1999: emails asking me to "do something" about the book, written by Barbara Walters, already published and the basis of a television special reviewed on this site: 100 Women of the Century.

(I've never been clear how one "does something" about a book that's already been published and sold. I don't think these people really wanted to seize and destroy all copies, did they?)

The protest was over the inclusion of Jane Fonda in the book and special. I'd quoted Fonda in my review, this way:

Who did Jane Fonda say popped into her mind as the most influential woman of the century? Coco Chanel! Fonda explains: "And here's why: She freed us from the corset."

Frankly, I thought anyone reading that quote was likely to come away with this conclusion: Jane Fonda was not exactly the brainiest commentator on the history of women in the 20th century, and not exactly a prime candidate for selection as one of the 100 most influential women of the century!

But, I guess because I included Jane Fonda in that review, these Jane Fonda emails started to pour in. There are fewer of them now, though they continue to come, and unfortunately I suspect I'll get more after publishing this article, from correspondents who don't read carefully.

An example of one I received, after writing the above words, from a Carl R. Brucker, includes these words:

How can a woman who patronized the Vietnamese Army during war time be honored???????? You media publicicts need to have your heads examined and your patriotism questioned, maybe even your citizenship!!!!!!!!

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