IoS letters, emails & online postings (20 May 2012)

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The Independent Online

We would like to thank Gail Porter for sharing the story of her harrowing battle with depression ("Being sectioned was absolutely terrifying", 13 May). Her brave account helps combat the stigma many women feel about depression and taking antidepressant medication; Platform 51's research shows that while a third of women in England and Wales have taken antidepressants, one in five has felt the need to keep this a secret from friends and family.

Worryingly, Gail has made the decision to stop taking her antidepressants without consulting a doctor – our research and experience with hundreds of women at our centres shows that problems with antidepressants are commonplace and that this is a growing problem. The Government needs to take urgent action to improve mental health provision for women – as a first step; it needs to review the use of antidepressants in this country.

Nancy Platts

Acting director of policy, Platform 51 (formerly YWCA), Oxford

How disappointed I was to read the concluding part to Paul Vallely's article on the Rochdale child-grooming cases ("Add a few irrelevant facts, stir and let prejudice do the rest", 13 May). This was an excellent and well-written article that made some very valid points. Then the astoundingly offensive comment: "Misogyny is not a problem confined to Kashmiri tradition, as a visit to any white working-class estate would reveal." As a white woman brought up on a "white working-class estate", I am sick and tired of this group of society being condemned and labelled as the scourge of Great Britain. If we're not misogynistic, then we are benefit-scrounging, alcoholic hooligans etc. In his off-the-cuff remark, Paul Vallely has revealed his own bigotry.

Cathy Sweetman

Herne Bay, Kent

Your feature on the riots (The New Review, 13 May) shows images of 33 people, all but one of whom are male. Yet in your discussion about all the problems facing youth, you don't mention gender at all. This is extraordinary when your photos, and the figures on violent crime generally, show that this is primarily a man problem. It's about the expectations we still have of male children to "stand up for themselves".

Unless we tackle how we bring up our boys, and, in particular, teach them of the rich rewards available from being in touch with their feminine sides, we can expect no respite from male violence on the streets.

Michael Dempsey

London E1

Janet Street-Porter ("No lipstick?..., 13 May) is out of line complaining about Hillary Clinton relaxing her attitude to primping. I say more power to Hillary for pushing at a pernicious glass ceiling for women – the attractiveness ceiling. Men can be taken seriously despite their looks, but women need to reach a minimum threshold of attractiveness in order to be worthy of respect.

Here's a question: how come viewers complain about Mary Beard presenting a history programme with long grey hair but no one says a word when Archbishop Rowan Williams marries our future king and queen without bothering to visit the barber, or even run a comb through his hair, first? But as a man, his untidiness is taken as a sign of seriousness. As a woman, it's the act of a radical feminist. Three cheers for the radical feminists.

Ellen Purton

Twickenham, Middlesex

I hope Matthew Bell is correct when he debunks the myth that coffee shops are still cool (The Emperor's New Clothes, 13 May). He suggests we no longer want to be like Ross and Phoebe, speaking with rising inflections. Perhaps it will also mean there'll be an end to all this "can I get" (as opposed to "can I have") and "I'm good" (as opposed to "I'm well") affectation.

Philip Stephenson


How alarming to learn from Nick Duerden (The New Review, 13 May) that Sir Tom Jones is "one of the UK's most virulent men" – does this mean he has "gone viral"?

Graeme Massey

Stamford, Lincolnshire

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