IoS letters, emails & online postings (7 March 2010)

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I am writing in response to Janet Street-Porter's column ("The doctor says looks don't count. Didn't hurt her...") of 28 February. Last March I was commissioned by the Home Office to write a report on the effects of sexualisation on children. I am a mother with 17 years' experience as a behavioural scientist, I hold a PhD in psychology, am a chartered counselling and health psychologist, and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, but Ms Street-Porter chose to question my suitability to write this report largely based on the way I look.

In her piece, she mentioned my hair colour, my wardrobe and my higher-profile public work. Yet no reference was made to my publications in peer-reviewed academic journals, to my years of lecturing at various universities, to the Readership that I received based on the standard of my academic publications, to my numerous, internationally-published books, nor to my years of clinical experience.

Ms Street-Porter clearly took the time to research my television appearances and promotional activities, yet completely disregarded any information whatsoever about my academic and clinical credentials. To suggest that the Home Office would employ me to conduct a review of such a serious nature because I am in her words "eye candy" is both offensive and ridiculous.

The irony is, had she actually read my report she would have found that that far too many girls these days seem to think that their appearance is where their value lies. Opinion pieces like Ms Street-Porter's only serve to underscore the idea that no matter what you do or achieve in life, ultimately there will always be someone (in this case, sadly, another woman) telling you that you didn't really deserve it and it's all down to the way you look.

What is particularly disappointing is that by calling my credentials into question she is potentially undermining the value of a rigorous piece of work that could have implications for child protection and the objectification of women in the future. It's a pity she hadn't considered that to be more important than a random, irrelevant attack about my appearance.

Dr Linda Papadopoulos

via email

Janet Street-Porter complains about the service in hotels and suggests this stems from staff themselves not staying in hotels ("You can't get the staff", 28 February). Could this have something to do with the level of pay and the absence of generous expenses allowances for the majority of junior hotel staff in hotels, many of whom are lucky to earn much above the basic wage?

Colin Cotmore

Welling, Kent

Joan Smith rightly mentions the right to equal pay for equal work as one of the achievements of the women's liberation movement 40 years on (28 February). The problem is that this remains a right more than an actuality, with many women still suffering low and unequal pay. Labour has made some noises about addressing the issue further, but in 13 years progress has hardly been speedy. As for Dave Cameron, his earlier warm words on the matter have long since faded. Like the situation 40 years ago, more pressure from below is needed.

Keith Flett

London N17

Behind Baroness Warsi's cool packaging of the claim that government grants to deprived areas do not help them, there's the usual Tory attitude ("The Tory peer who never plays it safe", 28 February): That as her family clawed its way up from nothing, so public resources should pay for cutting inheritance tax for the 3,000 richest families in Britain.

Alex Black


In the elation of London's Olympics coming in under budget by £500m, let us not forget the forces ranged against their success ("Revealed: Britain's Olympic Triumph", 28 February). Right-wing politicians, newspapers, and commentators have attacked the Games from the day that London became the venue for 2012. They see the London Olympics as Blair's Vanity Games, and will continue to attack them up to the day of the opening in 29 months' time. None of us will forget the similar poisonous campaign against the Millennium Dome in 1999, and the right wing's subversive attacks on the 1951 Festival of Britain, Clement Attlee's global relaunch of a postwar nation struggling to regain its pride and stature.

Mike Abbott

London W4

I love 6 Music, listen to it every day, and would be devastated if it were to go ("John Peel would have loved 6 Music. And now it's going", 28 February). However, after reading a few of these great articles supporting the station, I'm beginning to get a bit annoyed at everyone referring to it as a radio station for thirtysomethings. Surely a love of great music is something that transcends all age groups. I'm 18 and would hate for anyone to think I like any of the X Factor garbage that gets played on Radio 1. Please don't tar us all with the same brush.


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