A close shave for the Citadel

I'm a man who has supported women's equality from childhood down to my 46th year, and I find your editorial ``The Punitive Haircut,'' Aug 5, with its plea to keep Citadel cadet Shannon Faulkner from having a short haircut a disservice to the cause.

Equality is absolute. One either is equal or one is not. It doesn't matter what is happening in the nation's service academies and it doesn't matter what local bumper stickers say. If the male cadets at the Citadel have their heads shaved and painted robin's egg blue, Ms. Faulkner should expect the same. If the same standards are not in place for Faulkner as for the male cadets, little will have been gained when she graduates because it will be said that, whatever she accomplished after she got in, it was because allowances were made for her ``womanly frailties.''

And here's a little secret ... As a former soldier I can tell you that a shaved head, like anything else, is only as humiliating as one lets it be. I hope Faulkner has her hair cropped, keeps it short, and holds her head high for the next four years. Mitch Barker, Seattle

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published, and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ``Readers Write,'' and can be sent by Internet E-mail (200 word maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115

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