New Internationalist

Letters

Issue 153

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[image, unknown] LETTERS

[image, unknown] WOMEN: FEMINISM[image, unknown]

Cartoon by R. K. Laxman. Sisters unite

Buchi Emecheta’s article was out of place in your feminism issue (NI 150) as it was neither feminist nor internationalist, but racist. No woman should be attacked for being either ‘white’ or ‘black’ as this is an accident of birth, outside her control.

Most ‘white’ women are not goddesses on pedestals but work hard for a living, often on two shifts daily - one paid and one not. ‘Black’ women’s justifiable anger should turn against our common enemy, male domination, not against other women.

Kathleen Jones
Bishop’s Castle
Salop, UK

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Credit where it’s due

Your readers might be interested to know that the feminist slogan Amanda Root referred to (NI 150) ‘You start by sinking into his arms and end up with your arms in his sink’ was dreamed up by Spare Rib magazine - and printed on a tea towel.

You also list a book of young women’s writing - Girls are Powerful - which is in fact an anthology of pieces from Spare Rib.

Barbara Norden
Spare Rib Collective
27 Clerkenwell Close
London EC1 0AT, UK

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Bedrock of love

My female partner and I tried to read the August edition on Feminism but ground to a halt, bored. We do not appear to suffer any of the problems outlined in the issue, and don’t have the feeling of antagonism and isolation so keenly felt by your contributors.

We share household tasks not through any self-conscious political decision but as a matter of course, and are hardly aware that we share and contribute generously to each other. We have mutual respect when making love because we wish to give each other pleasure rather than just taking and enjoying sex for the individual himself or herself.

The only explanation I can offer for this odd behaviour is that we have a deep love for each other and a willingness for our relationship to succeed. We were both married before to people whose greed made them overt consumers, and it seems to us that such self-centredness is at the heart of all marital, relationship and global conflict.

Cohn Horsman
Lion ddeusanr
Difed, UK

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Celibate men

I know that the Bedroom Guide to Contraception in the August issue was compiled by a woman primarily for women. but it was obviously intended that men read and digest it too. So I was interested to see that celibacy is thought of as a purely female responsibility. Surely we must get beyond the male urge’ model of heterosexuality and encourage men too to see celibacy, or at least periods of it, as a perfectly viable sexual option for themselves.

John Button
Castle Douglas
UK

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Unravelling the Gospel

It is difficult for the Christian Church to be feminist because that requires an unravelling and re-knitting of the Gospel. It is also difficult for feminists to be Christian. I speak sympathetically, as a clergyman who has been campaigning for ten years or more for the ordination of women in the Church of England.

Two things about your presentation of Feminism (NI 150) make a Christian/ feminist reconciliation more difficult than it need be. First the insistence on ‘positive discrimination’ in favour of women, and secondly the promotion of lesbianism. These are not necessary to the feminist cause and simply activate the real fears and fake morality of male chauvinist Christians.

Jonathan Hopcraft
Bilsron, UK

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Sense of Grievance

I disliked the favourable propaganda for homosexuality in your August issue. As a Christian I regard it as evil and harmful, whether practised by men or by women. My wife and three daughters shared my revulsion at several of your articles.

I also found that the questionnaire was biased - you just did not provide ‘unloaded’ answers which fitted.

All in all I found the whole magazine phoney because it started with a sense of grievance, not with God. My sympathy for hard-done-by womanhood remains but I totally reject ‘feminism’ if this is meant to be the answer to the problem.

Michael Clark
Godalming
Surrey, UK

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Heads you win, tails I lose

The basic assumptions in your questionnaire (NI 150) show the perversities of the feminist cause. For example, any man who scores a respectably low tally must ipso facto be a liar, whereas any woman is ‘congratulated’. Then, your score gets worse if you confess merely to being a sympathiser with feminism rather than a die-hard supporter. Just because I don’t happen to agree with the more bizarre aspects of feminism does not make me ‘sexist’. Lastly, you are also penalised for believing in the divisiveness of women-only protests. What all this shows is that although the quiz was clearly tongue-in-cheek, feminists seek to create a bitter conflict where none should exist.

I don’t disparage the sincerity of the feminist cause, but I do resent the endless browbeating by the feminist bores. It’s a pressure that repels even the most reasonable man. Let’s have a two-part Masculinist special now for all the weary men in your readership. We’re frightfully nice chaps really.

William Preston
London SW6, UK

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Sexual moves

Contrary to what your correspondents claim (NI 150), homosexuality and lesbianism are corrupting people and do nothing to enhance people’s lives. I cannot sympathise with such people who try to co-opt the rhetoric of liberation in an attempt to gain acceptance for their own depraved and filthy practices.

Abdul Mumin Lindsay
Muslim Aid
London N7 UK

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Write on, women

I enjoyed NI 150 on feminism and I hope we will see more from the writers who contributed. They write so much better and more straightforwardly than most of your male contributors.

Nancy Telford
Leicester, UK

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[image, unknown] WOMEN: A WORLD REPORT[image, unknown]

Male supremacy

In NI 149 you quote figures which show a higher percentage of women in the Soviet legislature than in some Western countries. Someone unfamiliar with the Soviet system of government might conclude that women there have a greater influence on policy-making than in the West.

This is not so. The Supreme Soviet is nothing more than a rubber-stamping body. Effective political power rests in the higher echelons of the Communist Party and here the record of female participation is quite different. There is currently no woman member of the Politburo or the Secretariat of the Central Committee, no woman republican or regional party secretary, and only 3.8 per cent of the members and candidates of the current Central Committee are women.

Nigel Gould-Davies
Woking Surrey, UK

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[image, unknown] VOLUNTARY AID[image, unknown]

UNICEF view

Your opposition to PLAN and some other agencies appears to have blinded you to the very different nature of UNICEF and its work (NI 148). UNICEF supporters are not wanting ‘to help in the Third World without dirtying their hands with local politics’. Rather we are trying to save children from dying or growing into crippled adults while political and economic battles rage on.

In addition, you didn’t make it clear that although UNICEF is an agency of the United Nations, it is not funded by the UN. It depends upon voluntary contributions. The national governments and intergovernmental agencies contribute about 75 per cent of its income, the rest coming from individuals and organizations, and fund-raising efforts.

The fact that UNICEF strives to keep strictly neutral enables it to work in countries of all political types, both for emergency relief and for long-term programs.

Ellen L Conway
Victoria BC
Canada

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Aid points

May I suggest two further steps to be taken on voluntary aid and development (NI 148)?

Phase IV will start when the aid organisations realise that they are not giving us ‘aid’ but making reparations for all that was looted from us during colonial occupation, and for the totally unjust terms of trade forced on us after independence.

Phase V will begin when those in Australia, Canada, the USA and elsewhere realise that they are illegally occupying lands which belong to other people. The problem in South Africa is not apartheid but the presence of non-Africans there.

Winin Pirel
Maharashtra Prabodhan
Seva Mandal
Bornbay, India

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Save our seals

I recently made a donation to the Greenpeace Campaign to save the seal. I was surprised at a friend’s reaction.

He argued that I was immoral to put animals before humans, and that so long as people are starving anywhere in the world, it’s self-indulgent and sentimental to put the survival of an animal species before our own.

Up to a point, I agree with him. A human being’s capacity to suffer is more than that of a baby seal’s when it is swiftly clubbed to death.

But the enemy we’re up against in both cases is surely the same - that facility of some human beings to block off any feelings of sympathy or pity for either man or beast. The cruelty of those who slaughter animals for no good reason is exactly the same as the cruelty of those who blow up their fellow humans or use starvation and the threat of starvation to coerce them into surrendering control of their country.

Malcolm Verrell
Telford
Shropshire, UK

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