Letters: What signal are 'Slut Walkers' sending out?

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Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has given us a perceptive view of Slut Walking" ("How does dressing like a 'slut' help protect women?", 13 June), drawing attention to the naivety of the participants. She could have gone farther and discussed the forces that they are playing with.

Throughout the animal world, males are programmed to respond to females that send out signals that they are ready to mate. When a woman dresses in a sexually provocative way, she is stimulating a hard-wired male response.

The feelings aroused in men are something over which they have no control. How they react to these feelings depends on the man involved, but there is no doubt that this form of dress stimulates a primitive response buried deep within our evolution.

It's a bit like smoking. People have the right to smoke if they so wish (provided they are not harming others) but it is foolish to ignore the fact that by doing so they increase their risk of lung cancer. On that score, the Canadian policeman was doing no more than a GP telling a patient, "If you want to avoid getting lung cancer, stop smoking." Sounds like good advice to me.

Peter Lewis

Cardiff



Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's article on the Slut Walks makes one or two good points before reinforcing the reason why people marched in the first place.

To the question "Does it make any sense for us to teach our daughters that they can get pissed and wear whorish garb and still expect to be completely safe?" my answer is yes! Men who get pissed do not expect to be raped, nor do those who wear tight or no shirts. The point of the march is that rape is 100 per cent not the fault of the victim, no matter what she is doing or wearing.

Chris Newlove

Stockton on Tees



I confess to being somewhat confused. Today I witnessed a large body of women marching through London, a great many of whom were what our tabloids might describe as being scantily clad. Bras, stocking and suspender combinations and hotpants were proudly on display in what I came to understand was a Slut Walk.

The premise seemed to be that women had the right to dress however they please and even if they decide to display themselves in an overtly sexual manner that this is not a reason nor excuse for any unpleasant nor illegal conduct by men towards them.

This seemed to clash quite sharply with the view taken by various feminist groups earlier in the week who picketed the new Playboy Club in Mayfair and seemed to object strongly to the women working there dressing as "bunny girls".

It may not surprise you to learn that many men aren't quite sure what message modern feminists are trying to project. Can they come to a consensus on whether it is degrading or empowering for women to walk around with not much on; and I am meant to look on in admiration or avert my gaze?

Matt Strudwick

London E2



Of course women should be able to wear what they want without the fear of being raped. Likewise, I should be able to carry a bulging wallet in my back pocket and be festooned with gold jewellery without the fear of being robbed; but I would be extremely stupid to do so.

If those women who take part in Slut Walks don't want to be mistaken for prostitutes, they shouldn't wear the uniform.

Brian Rushton

Stourport-on-Severn, Worcerstershire



Merge the IMF and World Bank



Johann Hari makes some interesting points about the IMF and World Bank ("The IMF itself should be on trial", 3 June). However isn't the real issue that the IMF and World Bank are mere duplicates of each other? Shouldn't they be merged, trimmed and reorganised as a single global bank, with a remit to end currency speculation and provide a single currency and banking regulation.

And more importantly, to provide funding for the UN Millennium Development Goals with a one-off Tobin fund – a Marshall Plan for the Third World if you will – an annual Tobin Tax for the UNMDG, and a Tobin Crisis Fund for disasters.

The ludicrous situation of national governments and the UN scrabbling around for funds, or worse making empty promises in the Climate Change Age has to end.

Tim Garbutt

Sincerity Agency, London W9

Johann Hari succeeds in being both distasteful and wrongheaded. Let me correct his misinformation on two cases—Malawi and Hungary.

The former Development Secretary Clare Short has called the claim that the IMF ordered Malawi to auction off its grain reserves in 2001 a "myth and lie". The reality is: a Malawi government programme to increase funding for health, education and other social services by reducing maize reserves was subverted by corrupt officials. The reserves were completely sold off by government officials, including a minister, who used the proceeds for personal gain. These actions resulted in court convictions.

Taking his Hungary mistakes in turn: after the 2008 crash the IMF supported a wider 2009 budget deficit in Hungary. Sectoral levies did not pay for the deficit, but rather for a large income and corporate tax cut. And the bank levy he lauds has come with a price. Banks have diverted lending to other countries and the credit growth which is essential for generating economic activity is practically zero in Hungary.

Caroline Atkinson

Director, External Relations Department, IMF, Washington DC

Bishops speak truth to power



Almost all the comment about the Archbishop of Canterbury has been negative – sometimes not far from abuse – but Christian values are not much in evidence in our land and Church leaders have a duty to speak out where they see injustice.

For over 100 years all the great encyclicals and the key documents of the Second Vatican Council have demanded justice for those who are exploited and marginalised. The Church does not distinguish between the sacred and the temporal (as many politicians would like). The two are totally entwined.

I well remember watching Archbishop Tutu chuckling in his inimitable way at the very thought that the Church could not be involved in the political life of a people. Pius XI summed it up in these words: "It is an error to say that the economic and moral orders are so distinct from and alien to each other that the former depends in no way on the latter" (Quadragesimo anno, 1931). John XXIII made this point even more forcibly in Mater et Magister, 1961 and in Pacem in Terris, 1963, the latter being addressed not just to the Church but "to all men of good will".

Later still in the document Justice in the World, 1971 the bishops state: "Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel."

Dr Williams is following in the tradition of that great Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, who spoke "truth to power" in his day and, of course, received abuse for it. The Church's involvement in politics is a requirement, but not party politics. The pulpit not the New Statesman would have been the correct place.

The Rev Paddy Crean

Bootle, Merseyside



Geoff Baguley writes (letter, 13 June) that it would be good if the Labour Party were to back the Archbishop of canterbury in his criticisms of the Government. But they can't because they also support the cuts. The Labour Party can only argue that the Coalition is making the cuts too soon and that the Government's short-term agenda is actually Labour's long term agenda.

Karl Osborne

Hounslow, Middlesex



Your correspondents miss the point about the Archbishop of Canterbury's intervention. When the disenfranchised do not have an elected voice it is only right that the unelected speak for them.

Jeremy Braund

Lancaster



The drug laws are broken



Christopher Tiller (letter, 13 june) gives another airing to the idea that, as there is talk of decriminalising drugs because the drug laws are commonly broken, then we might as well pursue the same approach to the law on murder.

All laws are broken, usually by a small minority of people. If they weren't broken they wouldn't be necessary at all. Some laws are broken by a significant minority, occasionally a majority even. If that is the case, then their effectiveness should be examined and a decision made on whether to enforce them rigorously, or remove them. If the former path was chosen over the drug laws, then our unemployment figures would be reduced to zero at a stroke, because of the number of people locked up.

If the murder count in this country ever approached that in some parts of the world, then Mr Tiller might have a point; otherwise best to avoid such a simplistic comparison.

John Hall

Dawley, Telford



Christopher Tiller misses the point about the arguments for drug law reform.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy, along with many others, are not calling for the "abolition" of prohibition. What they want is a mature and rational debate on how to find a form of drug control, within the law, which actually works.

The misconception that options are limited to the extremes of prohibition and anarchy are apparently shared by our leaders, with the result that every reasoned call for review is rejected out of hand.

If yet another generation is not to be blighted by a failed drug control policy and its disastrous unintended consequences, some way must urgently be found of breaking through this seemingly impenetrable wall of ignorance.

Kate Francis

Bristol



It's the ignorance of people who equate drug use with murder that makes any reform of the law so difficult.

Hope Humphreys

Creech St Michael, Somerset



Hypnosis and false memories



Further to the article " 'Cowboys' hamper use of hypnotherapy to treat NHS patients" (6 June) I would like to state that the London College of Clinical Hypnosis currently runs courses in partnership with the University of West London, training both lay and medical practitioners up to MSc level in clinical hypnotherapy. We agree that there are a proportion of therapists treating the general public who have had no training or less than adequate training, and find this to be an abhorrent situation. Consequently we support moves towards regulating our profession.

However, I think that it is important to point out to the general public that the assertion that a high proportion of lay therapists hold a belief that current traumas stem from episodes of abuse in the past is erroneous. In fact this is a view put forward by a minority who use the analytical approach to hypnotherapy, one that is fast losing favour within the profession. Current thought and training takes a much more holistic approach that encourages working with a patient in a more goal-directed way.

Undoubtedly false memory does exist. However, it is wrong to think that its instigation is solely a result of working with lay hypnotherapists. Likewise, it is wrong to believe that doctors do not train in hypnotherapy from very dubious sources such as correspondence courses.

Societies such as the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis hold registers of appropriately trained hypnotherapists. As a guide, the public should be seeking therapy from people who have had classroom-based training of a minimum of 800 learning hours that is validated or accredited by reputable institutions.

Peter Mabbutt

Director of Studies

London College of Clinical Hypnosis, London W2

Sarah Palin's boring emails



"Six cartons of documents containing print-outs of emails" released by the authorities (report, 11 June). Could they not have just emailed them?

Nic Siddle

CHESTER



I read Rhodri Marsden's 700 or so words about boring emails (13 June), but was then enormously cheered up by Charles Nevin's succinct admission that he "wouldn't bother with Sarah Palin's emails, either".

Malcolm Addison

Windsor



Keep feeding those birds



Christine Perkins (letter, 13 June), who mocked Mr and Mrs Viner for feeding garden birds in the summer, seems to be out of step with informed opinion. Such diverse authorities as the RSPB and Bill Oddie recommend that feeding should continue, and research seems to have refuted the myth that it encourages the birds to be "lazy".

I understand that, if feeding does continue, it should not be too close to nesting sites, but beyond that, the little beauties need all the help they can get. Carry on, the Viners.

Steve Clarke

Portree, Isle of Skye



Amazing? Iconic!



Do you not find it amazing that your correspondent, Terry Maunder of Leeds (letter, 10 June) makes no mention of that other amazingly overused adjective, "iconic" which appears in an amazing number of instances to qualify amazingly irrelevant iconic nouns and indeed also iconic verbs?

Pauline A Littlewood

Findochty, Moray

Perspectives on overseas aid

Vaccination, yes, but what about food?



I am sorry to strike a discordant note, but the mass vaccination programmes now being proposed ("Bill Gates's plea: help me save four million lives", 13 June) are not the good news they seem.

Already in many countries an expanding population is finding it ever more difficult to obtain adequate food and water, let alone to achieve lifestyles even remotely similar to those which we in the West enjoy. This situation is certain to be exacerbated by climate change. So most of these children whose lives are to be "saved" will be condemned to a miserable existence.

Any mass vaccination programme which is not accompanied by a programme to enable the population to control its own numbers is simply irresponsible. Please may we have both?

Adrian West

London N21



David Cameron and other well-intentioned people wish to spend and awful lot of money to immunise the children of Africa. Laudable. However, without birth control programmes, agricultural schemes, investment in sanitation employment prospects, these healthy little mites face either starvation or a similar death from an alternative source. All aspects of African society need to be addressed before any real advance can be made

Ian Hall

Portland, Dorset



Cost of medicines . . .



May I say well done to the Prime Minister for his one small step to help mankind in the rest of the world through his vaccination policy. Maybe, now, Mr Cameron can do a lot more to save the lives of the thousands of children and adults in this country.

He must act for all in the UK who are deprived of lifesaving, or life-extending, medicines and medical treatments through the excessive charges imposed by the giant medical conglomerates. Then, his current campaign would indicate some fairness in the spending of taxpayers' money on foreign soil.

Terry Duncan

Bridliington, East Yorkshire



. . . and space rockets



Of course we should provide aid to developing countries, especially vaccines which can make significant differences. However, I would ask Jemima Khan ("We are a wealthy country, so we can afford to help", 13 June) how she justifies aid to countries that are nuclear powers or have vast standing armies. India is in the space race.

It is one thing to bring our experience in medical care to those in need, but financing their health care while they carry out nuclear bomb testing or fire rockets into space is clearly wrong. Our efforts should be directed towards persuading these countries to get their priorities in order.

Gary Clark

Radlett, Hertfordshire

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