I object strenuously to Richard Cohen's lamentation that the movie "Fatal Attraction" provides either/or role models for women: stay at home, have babies and be happy, or become a successful career woman and go berserk {"A New Stereotype: The Crazy Career Woman," op-ed, Oct. 6}. This is an absurd insinuation from what is, after all, a movie in which the female roles happen to be a homemaker and a career woman, and the audience witnesses only a short period in the lives of the characters. (How does he know that the wife/mother does not go on to become a successful career woman after her child enters school? And so what if she doesn't?)

I agree with Cohen's conclusion that the choice of homemaker, career woman or a combination of both is an individual one. However, it is Cohen, not the movie, who implies that there is a "right" choice when he asserts that a bright, educated woman could not be fulfilled solely by her roles as wife and mother.

I'd like to remind Cohen that generations of women (no less bright or educated) have done just that. The woman who raised me takes pride in the fact that she is responsible for the nurturing and growth of three infants into responsible, independent adults, and for equipping them with sound judgment and values to face the challenges of living. That, I would say, is a pretty big life's accomplishment. And the generations of women who have performed this feat (and those who continue to perform it) are not wanting mental capacity.

Cohen has missed the point of the feminist movement: that is, to provide the opportunity for women to mold their lives in any way they choose. It is not that the woman who chooses to stay at home (for any or all of her life) is unfulfilled, uneducated and stupid.

Barbara Carns

Is Richard Cohen so cocooned in his inside-the-Beltway world that he really believes that no educated, bright woman could be fulfilled by choosing not to work and, instead, to raise her own children rather than parceling out that important task to some stranger?

Well, let me assure him that there are plenty of women who could be drawing handsome salaries in the work place who have done just that -- decided (and that's the important word) not to work. And they don't just raise toddlers and accompany their husbands to nighttime cocktail parties. They are engaged in the running of their children's schools, they volunteer to help feed the poor, raise money for charitable organizations, bond with their infants, and are there for their kids. They talk with them, play with them, hang around with them. They provide stability and direction in a world where such things are rare.

Some even work at part-time jobs. Many will go back to work when their children are in school all day. Some won't.

In the meantime, some of them actually read, go to museums and movies. They share their lives with their children and husbands. They are not slaves to either. They do not threaten working women (most of them have worked or will work again). And they resent being portrayed as servile, June Cleaver dunderheads.

If the wife in "Fatal Attraction" makes Cohen nervous, perhaps he should meet more attractive, bright, educated nonworking women who love what they are doing.

I will introduce him to my wife.

Brian Healy