IoS letters, emails & online postings (14 March 2010)

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In your fascinating piece about the 100 most influential women you repeated the myth about the suffragette Emily Davison's death by saying that she threw herself under the King's horse in the 1913 Derby ("A century of distinction", 7 March). The film of the incident shows she did no such thing. She attempted to grab the reins to stop the horse as an audacious and original protest, meaning no harm to any person or animal. People in the know at the time confirmed this. This was hardly a wise move given the weight and pace of these horses, but Emily Davison had everything to live for, and the energy and drive to continue until the campaign for women's votes succeeded. To suggest that she deliberately threw her life away and tried at the same time to kill or maim a horse and its rider in a weird, publicity-stunt suicide both misrepresents and demeans her.

Wyn Davies

Pembrey, Carmarthenshire

Thank you for the rundown of 100 significant feminists. I was pleased to see a mention of Ian Donald and medical ultrasound, but he was not the pioneer or inventor ("Men who helped the drive for equality", 7 March). The work of John Wild and John Reid at the University of Minnesota predates by at least five years that of Donald. John Wild, who created the first ultrasound image of a breast, died last year.

Susan Corrigan

London WC1

Janet Street-Porter is wrong about polygamy ("It's poverty, not polygamy, that kills" 7 March). Jacob Zuma's marital status is a question of human rights. Polygamy demeans women. Wherever it is practised, men have power over women's lives, and women are reduced to passive powerless objects with little or no right to make decisions about their own bodies or about their children. Women's poverty and lack of education are frequently related to polygamy, because their access to these commodities is denied by men. If some middle-aged or elderly white man dumps his long-standing wife for a younger, Janet is often one of the first to criticise!

Jean Hopkin

Tideswell, Derbyshire

A Clockwork Orange is not so much, as Guy Adams states, "a sci-fi movie", as a morality tale about society "turned clockwork orange", in which people lose their capacity for moral choices ("Best Picture award is least predictable of tonight's gongs", 7 March). This is not "fiction", but a daily dilemma, and warning in the real world. The lads in this film feel marginalised, and find release only in horrific vandalism and crimes. The film subsequently questions a penal system in which authorities are "conditioning" individuals into soulless conformity.

Mike Bor

London W2

I remember Vanessa Redgrave's 1977 Oscar acceptance speech, in which she applauded the Academy for resisting intimidation by the Jewish Defence League, whom she described as "Zionist hoodlums whose behaviour is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world" ("Oscars Babylon", 7 March). It was an excellent speech and received gasps and applause in equal measure. To describe it as "embarrassing" strips it of its context.

Mark Elf

Dagenham, Essex

Why all the fuss ("YorkshireTM – The Champagne of puddings", 7 March). In Bow, east London, where I was brought up in the Thirties and Forties, my Mum made "batter pudding" – the best I ever tasted. No one in Cockneyland ever called it "Yorkshire" – unless they were posh.

Eddie Johnson

Long Melford, Suffolk

The face of British Airways – the cabin crew – have been pilloried, but what about Willie Walsh, the board of directors, the managers and their salaries? ("Will BA's staff cuts signal a nosedive for in-flight service?", 7 March.) Cabin crew are not just "trolley dollies": they deal with medical emergencies that paramedics attend to on the ground; they handle customers who are verbally abusive, restrain physically abusive customers, suffer the effects of altitude on their health, jet-lag and anxiety, and high rates of marital failure. They have extremely long and unsocial hours, – and they might just save your life.


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