Opinion | J Lo, J Aff and Women’s Choices

To the Editor:

“Why It Matters That J. Lo Is Now J. Aff,” by Jennifer Weiner (Opinion guest essay, nytimes.com, July 23), misses the point of women’s power. Our power is not in keeping our names, but in our ability to choose. Choice is power. We as a society have done much — in the past and today — to undermine women and the ability of women to make choices about their lives.

Rather than suggest that Jennifer Affleck undermined her brand or women or that she somehow failed to exercise her power when she changed her name, imagine if we supported her for knowing what she wants and living into who she is. Or imagine if we just let her do what she chooses to do without putting our personal opinions onto her choices.

Strong, independent women are true to themselves and make their own decisions. We can choose to be competent, self-sufficient and happily married with our old name, or with a new one.

Taline Manassian
Dripping Springs, Texas

To the Editor:

Does anything about Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck really matter in our world? It is beyond dismaying to see on my screen “news” items or opinion pieces about J.Lo, the Kardashians or any celebrity whose only claim to celebrity is celebrity itself.

Gary Giardina
new York

To the Editor:

Jennifer Weiner punctuated her reasoned perspective with two very powerful and important words: Ben Lopez.

Without detracting in any way from Ben Affleck’s professional accomplishments, Jennifer Lopez is the bigger star with a bigger name recognition and an even more widely known nickname: J.Lo.

Ben should feel honored to adopt her surname and become perceptually more a part of her world and her community, while never being seen as losing who he is.

Our society needs leaders who will stand up to anachronistic convention and help tear down the appalling and failing edifice of patriarchy. Watch out, B.Lo!

Randy Chatterjee
Courtenay, British Columbia

To the Editor:

Although Jennifer Weiner made some valid points from a feminist perspective, there are many reasons for a woman to want to change her last name.

I hated my maiden name because it reminded me of my father and the way he treated me, so I took my first husband’s surname. When I divorced my first husband, I kept my last name because I was known professionally by that name.

When I married my second husband, I took his surname because it would have been awkward to keep my first husband’s name, and I certainly didn’t want to reclaim my father’s name.

When I divorced my second husband, I kept the last name I’d been using (his) because it was part of my personal and professional identity at that point.

Life is complicated.

Diana Ruiz
Elk Grove, Calif.

To the Editor:

I am 77 and a veteran of two marriages, to men who never knew their fathers. My own name has been something I’ve tried to live up to for most of my life. Sure, my dad gave me the name, Mary Beams, but who would abandon such poetry? Keep whatever name inspires you to live your best life. The love will be there.

Mary Beams
Grand Marais, Minn.

To the Editor:

Re “Climate Change Is Not Negotiable” (editorial, Sunday Opinion, July 24):

Federal regulations have been a crucial part of US efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions over the last 30 years. But such regulations are increasingly subject to reversal by Republican presidents and a radical right-wing Supreme Court, dramatically limiting their effectiveness.

Today, only comprehensive action by Congress can ensure the deep reductions in emissions needed for the United States to lead the world toward climate protection.

The good news is that after decades of politically problematic policies like energy taxes, which lost them elections and couldn’t get enacted, Democrats have finally in the last few days produced the right climate policy approach: large, direct clean energy tax breaks for consumers and businesses that are hugely popular with voters.

If, as now appears likely, Democrats can enact these measures into law, they will unleash tens of billions of dollars in new, private-sector, clean energy investment, creating millions of good new jobs while also improving our energy security and limiting our reliance on petro-state dictators like Vladimir Putin. Yet every single Republican in Congress still opposes the bill, making its enactment unnecessarily difficult and partisan.

Of course, the Biden administration must continue, where possible, to try to regulate emissions, especially of methane, which when mitigated can limit near-term temperature increases even more effectively than cuts in carbon dioxide. But regulations are no substitute for legislation.

Congressional Democrats must pass the pending clean energy bill as soon as possible. Then they can make the anti-inflationary, job creation and other economic advantages of clean energy legislation a major campaign issue and accomplishment in the coming midterm elections, along with the significant climate benefits. This, in turn, can help increase their majorities in Congress, setting the stage of additional legislation next year.

Paul Bledsoe
The writer, strategic adviser at the Progressive Policy Institute, was communications director of the White House Climate Change Task Force under President Bill Clinton.

To the Editor:

Re “As Pace of Learning Rebounds, Students Are Still Years Behind” (news article, July 20):

It should come as a little surprise that children are seriously behind in school given the stress of the pandemic, which has disproportionately assaulted children of color and families living in poverty. These vulnerable children far too often enter kindergarten already at a disadvantage.

This health and learning gap, already present by age 5, is hard but not impossible to make up, given the rapid brain development that has already occurred before kindergarten.

While repair is possible, our politicians and policymakers will need to shift funding to provide the types of intensive educational services that include small-group instruction or tutoring.

If our society truly believes that all children deserve a chance to succeed and thrive, starting from birth, then we would see that reflected in the funding of public schools and mental health services for families and children.

It is time to ask ourselves if this is what we want, and if so, to put a laser-sharp focus on making infant, toddler and children’s needs and funding a genuine priority.

Tovah P Klein
The writer is an associate professor of psychology, director of the Barnard Center for Toddler Development and the author of “How Toddlers Thrive.”

To the Editor:

I am writing as a conservative Republican to thank President Biden for his unwavering support for Ukraine’s battle in its war with a brutal enemy. The latest rocket systems sent to Ukraine have to be a godsend for its military.

I urge all Americans regardless of party to support Mr. Biden’s effort to save Ukraine from a rogue nation led by a ruthless tyrant.

Paul Schoenbaum
Richmond, Va.

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