Letters: It seems there are several shades of misogyny

These letters appear in the 9th January issue of The Independent

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Let’s be honest. If Fifty Shades of Grey had been written by a man, it would have been denounced as misogynist porn, and every woman (especially those involved in the media and in women’s issues) would have been screaming for it to be banned.

But because it was  written by a woman, it was  a bestseller and huge money-maker. It does make you wonder whether women are more misogynist than men.

Certainly, all the gossip magazines seem to thrive on building up then knocking down female celebrities, to the delight of their readers – who are mainly women.

It seems more and more that men are presumed to be misogynist just by existing, and that misandry, a word most people wouldn’t know the meaning of (men-hating), is given free rein in the media, as men are treated as stupid buffoons, jokes or child-molesting, women-raping beasts. For most of the male population this is not the case, yet we are all lumped into one group, and all assumed to be guilty of this type of behaviour.

Ken Twiss

Low Worsall,  North Yorkshire

I am utterly appalled that the Stitching, Sewing and Hobbycraft and Cake International shows in Manchester were promoting a stand with a Fifty Shades of Grey theme.

This is a book – and now film – that gives people the mixed messages that sadomasochism is OK in a relationship; that females should understand that it may be their role to participate in it if it is requested by their partner – and they should find it sexually arousing and therefore tolerate what happens without criminal charges being brought against the perpetrator.

It tells males that being physically and psychologically violent towards females is quite acceptable – just groom them first into voluntarily participating so no criminal charges can be brought.

Our women’s refuges are full of females who have suffered violence, including sadomasochistic violence, from partners – what message does this send them?

I am deeply saddened  that this event, which has a predominantly female  audience, appeared to  take lightly the suggestion that violence against women is sometimes acceptable and could be viewed as romantic and sexually enhancing.

Ingrid Coombes


If the film of Fifty Shades of Grey features “murder, mutilation and rape” as Amy Jenkins suggests (Voices, 7 February), then it sounds a lot more exciting than the book – which doesn’t.

And the director has been assigned to give “a whiff of credibility in part because of her gender”? Last time I looked, the author of the book was female.

John Davidson


Help that Malcolm Burge didn’t have

I was deeply moved by the tragic case of Malcolm Burge (“The appalling death of a man caught up in a benefits nightmare”, 7 February) who sadly took his own life

I lived in Newham in  the 1990s. It was a heartening time because some of the elderly residents in my road were such a shining example of neighbourly helpfulness and kindness.

One such couple were  my very good friends Pat and Percy, and they always told the story of how a “nice lady from Newham Council” came and sat with them for three hours one day to help them claim what was rightly theirs in pensions and associated benefits. 

This is not a cynical letter suggesting we have lost our humanity; I really pray that we haven’t and that systems can be put in place to help and advise people to use the internet and navigate phone systems, as Mr Burge’s nephew suggested in the article.

“We must love one another or die”, as W H Auden said. So, well done to the brave teenagers who tried their best to help  Mr Burge.

Lisa Compton


On the same day that you reported the story of Malcolm Burge another newspaper trumpeted the success of Iain Duncan Smith in halting the increase of the nation’s benefits bill.

One suspects that the late Mr Burge, and the 49 other cases mentioned in your article, where employment benefits recipients were “sanctioned” and they subsequently died, are filed under “collateral damage” in the Coalition’s great austerity quest, neatly depersonalising the human cost of Mr Duncan Smith’s diktats.

S Lawton

Kirtlington, Oxfordshire

Daffodil story signifies sad truth

I am not remotely surprised that supermarkets are being advised not to place daffodils next to fruit and vegetable displays in case they are mistaken for food (“Keep daffodils away from spring onions, shops told”, 7 February).

Last spring, in my local supermarket, I purchased a bunch of daffodils still in bud. The young man at the checkout asked his nearby colleague if they were leeks, spring onions or something else?

As I left, the colleague sniggered, saying: “Imagine not recognising daffodils.” I replied that the young man’s inability to recognise the flowers might be because his life was such that he had never seen them before or because he had not been told their name at school.

Whatever the reasons, the fact that people are unable to recognise a common spring flower in the UK is an indictment of both social deprivation and the lack of a sound primary school education rather than a failing of our supermarket layouts.

Jean Johnston

Helensburgh,  Argyll and Bute

Chilcot a waste of time and money

Commentators and correspondents loftily whingeing about the Chilcot inquiry may wish to reflect that it has, thus far, taken approximately half as long as the inquiry into Bloody Sunday.

It also happens to be a waste of both time and taxpayers’ money. Unless Sir John Chilcot firmly and unambiguously concludes that we were all conned into supporting the overthrow of a psychotic, genocidal despot, his inquiry will be dismissed, out of hand, as an establishment whitewash.

Keith Gilmour


Drugs don’t work –  but they make money

The £100m cost of buying flu vaccine which was only effective on about 3 per cent of those having the jab and the fact that it was known to be ineffective months beforehand are of no surprise when put in the context of other recent  reports.

A few years ago a chief of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Allen Roses, admitted to the world’s media that most drugs do not work on most patients and are a waste of time.

GSK and other drug companies have been fined in recent years for promoting drugs for unapproved use and for failing to report safety data.

There have been media reports over many years of the drug industry bribing doctors and health officials to buy more drugs, most recently in China.

Some doctors have become little more than drug salespeople, and the drug industry controls our healthcare – for profit.

Edward Priestley

Hove Edge,  West Yorkshire

UK is America’s poodle yet again

Is it any wonder that General Sir Richard Shirreff has said the Prime Minister risked becoming a “foreign policy irrelevance” over the Ukraine crisis?

For more decades than I care to remember, all British governments  have followed behind  the tail of America as if  a dog ready to mount a bitch on heat. That is the reason why the UK has chosen to acquiesce in  the face of this ongoing human tragedy.

And let’s not forget that it is in America’s interest that this latest military adventure in Ukraine should play out according to its plan: the destabilisation of the Russian economy. It appears that it is on track so far.

Ray J Howes

Weymouth, Dorset

Speaking of the crisis in Ukraine, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has condemned Vladimir Putin’s alleged role there  in the following terms: “This man has sent troops across an international border and occupied another country’s territory in the 21st century, acting like some mid-20th-century tyrant. Civilised nations do not behave like that.”

Has Mr Hammond heard of the West’s invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq?

Sasha Simic

London N16

This is the bottom line

Younger readers may not know the origins of the title used for Sandip Roy’s article (“Oh, Kolkata”, 6 February) about coming home.

Oh! Calcutta! was Kenneth Tynan’s rendering of the French “Oh, quel cul t’as”. He assumed, one imagines rightly, that he had no chance of staging a West End revue called something like Cor, Look at the Arse on That.

Vincent Clark

Frant, East Sussex