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Letters: A feminist answers Emily Hill

Plus: elephants are not for hunting; a diplomatic history; Corbyn and the red-bricks; bungalows

29 October 2015

9:00 AM

29 October 2015

9:00 AM

We should all be feminists

Sir: Articles proclaiming the death of feminism are appearing like clockwork in the press at the moment (‘Bad winners’, 24 October). Each time, it prompts feminists to respond passionately, demonstrating that far from being over, feminism is experiencing a resurgence. Witness the crowds that gathered at the Feminism in London conference at the weekend, or the stats which refuse to budge: the 19 per cent gender pay gap, the 54,000 pregnant women who are discriminated against at work each year, and the two women per week who die at the hands of a partner or former partner.

But there is a more serious underlying issue. We still hear all too often from those who state, as Meryl Streep did recently, ‘I’m not a feminist but…’, before going on to identify with the very cause from which they have just distanced themselves. So while feminism is resurgent, it is also exclusive. If you want a world where everyone can fulfil their potential and make choices that have nothing to do with their gender, then you are a feminist. Who doesn’t want that? It is time to reveal the hidden feminist in us all.
Sam Smethers
Chief executive of the Fawcett Society
London SE1

Glass ceiling, glass floor

Sir: I agree with Emily Hill that feminism, which started as a genuine crusade against prejudice, has become a form of pointless attention-seeking. The problem is that revolutionaries never know when to stop. Once the glass ceiling has been broken, they then invent the glass floor. The truth is, as Cosmo Landesman implies (‘Here come the humanists’, 24 October) that most of us have evolved beyond feminism, and now believe in equality for all.
Stan Labovitch

No need for ivory

Sir: The media recently featured a picture of a hunter toasting his success beside the carcass of a magnificent elephant. Charles Moore (Notes, 24 October) advocates legalising this by breeding elephants for hunting and the ivory trade, arguing that cows only exist because they are useful. But there is no ‘need’ for ivory — it is dentine traded by criminals to provide high-value goods for people with warped values.

Attitudes to the hunting of endangered species have changed dramatically in many countries through education, backed up by some spectacular wildlife filming. The Chinese go to great expense to protect and increase the population of their giant pandas, whose value is mainly symbolic. Surely, in this ‘golden era’ of relations with China, we can make a powerful case for giving equal consideration to the elephant, an intelligent creature with many endearing qualities. Do they really want to go down in history as the nation that saved the panda but killed off the elephant?
Sandra Jones
Old Cleeve, Somerset

An expert in diplomacy

Sir: In his letter of 24 October, the 94-year-old Sir Archie Lamb modestly does not mention that he ably describes the evolution of the Diplomatic Service from pure diplomacy to the promotion of ‘trade’ in his latest memoir, The World Moves On. This is history from the inside as he rises from pre-war filing clerk (with a break as a Hurricane and Typhoon pilot) to ambassador and the Diplomatic Service Inspectorate.
Dr Ian Olson

Not a red brick among them

Sir: Harry Mount gives unwarranted status to the academic institutions attended by Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet by implying they were red-brick universities (‘Red-brick revolutionaries’, 24 October). Red-brick universities do not feature among the higher education centres mentioned in his article.

The term ‘red-brick university’ was given in 1943 to six universities with high academic status, particularly in science, technology and medicine. These universities were strongly allied to their host cities and accordingly designated civic universities. In recent time the original six — Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham and Bristol — have been joined by other universities to form the Russell Group. All these universities are research-intensive and are held in high regard, particularly by those of us who were fortunate enough to attend and work in them.
Prof. Sir Miles Irving (Liverpool, 1953-1959)
Woodstock, Oxfordshire

Canada rocks

Sir: For reasons unknown, Canada receives scant attention in the pages of your great publication; even New Zealand gets more mention. So it was with delight that I read Rod Liddle’s catalogue of ‘right-wingish’ rock bands including Rush, BTO, and sometimes (not now) Neil Young — all Canadian (26 September). This is consistent with the rebellious nature of the rock genre. For most of our history, Canada has been ruled by the ‘left-wingish’ Liberal party.
Kevin Sheedy
Toronto, Ontario

Planning disasters

Sir: Mark Palmer talks about the need for bungalows for the ageing population (‘Britain needs bungalows’, 17 October) and the lack of newly built homes suitable for the elderly. What he fails to note is the number of bungalows that are bought at low prices by the young, who are then given planning permission to knock them down and rebuild two-storey family homes. A line of half a dozen bungalows built in my village in the 1950s and 1960s have now been lost in this way.

I have sold my old farmhouse and am doing up a small barn to live in in my old age. There was no help from the council, who took 15 years to agree. Planning should be taken away from the obstructive planning departments in all councils.
John Hancox
South Cerney, Gloucestershire

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