You have highlighted the devastating damage inflicted on girls and young women, and on all of society, by a culture that perpetually judges women and girls on their looks, rather than who they are or what they do ("Girls, interrupted... the true cost of low self-esteem", 1 April). As well as dampening their aspirations and directly impacting equality, the persistent portrayal of women as objects to be judged – based on stereotypical values of sexual attractiveness – negatively impacts the attitudes of boys and men, and often leads to discrimination, harassment and violence against women and girls.
We presented evidence to the Leveson inquiry to tackle prejudicial reporting of violence against women and girls, and to call for an end to the portrayal of women as sex objects in the UK press. With growing evidence of the harms associated with sexualisation and objectification, and with all eyes on the outcomes of much needed reforms of the regulation of the press, now is the time for decision-makers to take action to promote equality and to stop the stereotyping of women as sex objects in our media.
Anna van Heeswijk
OBJECT, London W4
Eaves, London SW9
End Violence Against Women Coalition, London EC2
Equality Now, London SW1
Body image and self-esteem are serious issues but it is an outdated myth that this works only one way; as women's influence in society and particularly the media has grown over the past 30 years, obsession with physical looks and fashion has increased exponentially. Now boys and men as well are under constant pressure to worry about their appearance. I'm sure I have not been alone, though it often seemed that way, in being a male whose confidence and opportunities have been diminished over decades by a profound sense of discomfort at my own appearance. This is not a gender issue but an ugliness issue.
Sabah, East Malaysia
Would it have hurt to feature a more diverse line-up in your report on low self-esteem among girls? Are there no black or Chinese businesswomen? However, black people were duly represented in a feature about global poverty ("The real hunger games"). I expect your paper to challenge stereotypes, not reinforce them.
Plenty of people are born with a stake in Britain without ever needing to graft for it (Janet Street-Porter, 1 April). Any child born to an even moderately well-off family with equity in a house, or one with the wherewithal to get them to a good school, has a stake just by being born. Not to mention a child born already registered at Eton. Many others are born into poor families with little prospect of a good education or even employment who have to graft really hard to get on to the first rung in society. Looters and rioters should face justice – but there needs to be an even greater justice than that.
I do not blame Francis Maude for the appalling petrol chatter causing panic and chaos throughout Britain. I blame David Cameron: the buck stops with him. He gave Mr Maude a job, and has turned most of us into a depressed, frustrated and angry people. This millionaire and his equally wealthy cronies are always all right. I wish I could sack the self-serving lot.
It is an insult to the 18,341 people who voted for George Galloway in Bradford West to suggest that they did so only because they are Muslims ("A win that has made fools of us all", 1 April). It is not only Muslims who are having to work longer for less pension, or whose children are missing university education because of the high tuition fees. And it is not only Muslims who are against the plan to replace Trident nuclear weapons system at a cost of £100bn while NHS accident and emergency departments are closing down and pensioners choose between eating and heating.
More British people should go for independent Members of Parliament like George Galloway who can speak out without the fear of offending party leaders and risking political careers. Most MPs are indebted to their funders from trade unions or big business.
If an unpopular figure such as George Galloway can cause the Labour and Conservative vote to collapse, the next Parliament could have representatives from the English Democrats and Ukip.
The granny tax is not "a squeeze on pensioners on incomes of between £8,000 and £24,000 a year" ("Mr Cameron, get a grip", 1 April). The tax comes into effect from April 2013, at which time the personal allowance for those aged 64 to 74 becomes £10,500. The additional personal allowance for pensioners only gradually reduces for taxable incomes between £24,000 and £29,000.
John J Hedley
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