THE MAIL

August 2 2004

THE MAIL

August 2 2004

THE MAIL

‘Eureka, they’ve done it again! The pharmaceutical companies have found a massive, worldwide,

billiOn-dollar bonanza.’ -Ralph Meyer, Sechelt, B.C.

Sex Inc.

How convenient it is to find out that 40 per cent of women are— all of a sudden—sexually dysfunctional at the same time when big corporations are starting to research female sex pills (“Can science give you a better sex life?” Cover, July 19). I believe this is BS. It’s all part of the trend to market women as depressed and unhappy in order to lead them to believe that with the right products they can better their lives and become happier people. I commend you for taking a closer look behind the scenes.

Carmelo Piazza, Vaughan, Ont.

Maybe female sexual “dysfunction” has something to do with biology. Our bodies crave sex when we are young because we must procreate to survive. When time passes and our bodies have not only had babies but have worked hard to look after them, the natural biological effect is not to want to make babies anymore—thus our craving for sex dwindles. So I try not to feel guilty and reach for a pill or go to therapy when I do not feel like getting it on anymore. My human biology tells me I have better things to do with my time. G. D. Mills, Pakenham, Ont.

Sex, sex, sex! Have I got your attention yet? With all due respect, Maclean’s, you’ve been taking the “sex sells” mantra much too literally with your recent covers.

Surely, with the fine calibre of your staff and the vast quantity of journalistic fodder available, there must be something more significant to write about. Then again, maybe the Canadian public is clamouring for such lightweight fare simply because we have the wealth, peace and security to enjoy these trivialities.

0 Canada, where are your brains?

April Nauta, Ottawa

There are some of us who believe that the whole field of medicine is being assailed by new tests and drugs in search of a disease.

In our July 19 cover story “Can science give you a better sex life?” we reported that drug companies say two out of five women are sexually dysfunctional. That claim certainly stirred controversy among readers when our weekly Web poll asked whether female sexual dysfunction (FSD) was “a medical manufactured condition.” Opinion was divided, but 56 per cent said yes, suggesting other reasons why women might have unsatisfactory sex lives. “FSD is yet another sad urban myth perpetuated by the predominantly male fields of pharmaceutical research and medicine,” argues Donna MacFarlaneRiddeil of St. Catharines, Ont. The real reasons women may sometimes not be interested in sex, adds Maggie Markus of Toronto, have more to do with their domestic and professional workloads. “Being overtaxed physically and emotionally,” she says, “doesn’t leave much time to even think about sex.”

The cost of this to the medicare system might be significant, let alone the questionable ethics involved.

Dr. Jim Battershill, Vancouver

Who cares about others’ private lives? I can’t believe people have time to read this kind of stuff.

Eric and Shirley Leyenhorst, Pitt Meadows, B.C.

Female “sexual dysfunction” is more than just the product of the overactive imaginations of drugs-for-profit corporations. It is the result of years of gender oppression. Women’s magazines rarely tell you how to please yourself—just how to please your man, and you better look good doing it! Once men and women get beyond this cultural tripe, that lucrative little niche market will disappear. Bad news, Big Pharma: feminists and their men don’t need your help to get their kicks!

Kerrie Thornhill, Vancouver

It is not up to drug companies to define what sexual dysfunction is. Only the individual can do that. If I want to have sex only once a month, what is wrong with that? Jennifer Richard, Sheet Harbour, N.S.

Considering that the female gender is every bit as human as the male gender, why should we suppose that sexual dysfunction is in male territory any more than baldness is a male-only affliction?

Steve Trask, Riverview, N.B.

Perhaps FSD is directly correlated to MSAmale sexual ability.

Maggie Negodaeff, Ottawa

Women these days are tired and stressed. We don’t need a miracle pill to cure a physical dysfunction. We need social support. We get mixed messages about our sexuality, face unrealistic role models and have social pressures to be perfect moms and perfect housekeepers. We’re putting in long hours at work, but are still expected to carry the bulk of child-raising and home-care responsibilities—and we’re all supposed to look like Madonna while we do it.

Kelly Batstone, Muraran, Japan

Instead of telling people to get a grip and deal with their problems, the medical professional gives it some fancy name, then

manufactures a drug to deal with it. Of course, society eats these band-aid solutions up, because that’s the easiest thing to do. That way, no one has to actually work on their problems.

Pam Mclnnes, Ariss, Ont.

Although a reading of your biased cover story might lead most to believe that the pharmaceutical companies are once again only finding another way to pad their pockets, let me assure you that female sexual dysfunction is a real problem. I’ve been suffering from it for years with no help offered from any doctor. If they can make a drug that will help me, I’ll let them line their pockets with my money. Gladly.

Crystal Holloway, Lacombe, Alta.

Sexual dysfunction can exist in women, but the degree to which it’s being touted as a physiological problem is ridiculous. I’m sure there are cases of lowered libido and lack of sexual enjoyment that are based in our chemical makeup. However, I think many more cases result from women not knowing their bodies well, and from men not knowing much about the female body and how to work it. I believe that many women would benefit not from a pill, but from learning openly about what turns them on and off, from being with men who do the same and from feeling comfortable in their own skin. A pill should be a last resort, not the first thing to turn to.

Tracy Cassels, New York City

Visual distraction

I was greatly disappointed by your choice of photos to accompany Shanda Deziel’s article on female sex symbols, “Are you like them?” (Cover, July 19). While it was great that you decided to run a piece on more realistic female celebrities and role models, four of the seven pictures were of the women you deemed unrealistic. How do you expect women to read that they should admire characters like Bridget Jones and actresses like Cynthia Nixon and then feel good about themselves while Halle Berry’s chest stares up at them from the page?

Katarina Relic, Hamilton

After I read “Are you like them?” I nearly cancelled my subscription because of its extremely contradictory and sexist content.

Apparently in your view women, be they Britney Spears or Halle Berry, have the right to be who they want at whatever age they want. The fact that you seem to feel that we’re supposed to be promiscuous in our 20s, unwanted and overweight in our 30s and single but lovin’ it in our 40s is ridiculous. I hope my mother doesn’t read the part explaining that now that she’s in her 50s she’s no longer allowed to be sexy.

Tara Blanchet, Vancouver

Drink beer, will vote

I was disappointed with the analysis you gave of the low turnout among young voters in “Saving Democracy” (Politics, July 19). I’m 22 and I did vote in this election. However,

Proportional representation is very confusing, and I don’t believe that it will bring more voters to the table

I was tempted not to. I felt patronized by the major media, and both patronized and ignored by the major parties. The media kept bemoaning the fact that young people don’t vote, without any real investigation into why people my age don’t vote. The major parties seemed to think that high-school visits and ads that looked like beer commercials were all that was needed to target the “youth” vote—I heard little about the issues that matter to people my age, such as the burden of increasing student debt, decreasing accessibility to post-secondary education and questionable job opportunities for the young, to name just a few.

Jennifer Bourque, Montreal

I was pleased to see John Geddes’s excellent overview of the growing discussion on proportional representation. Too many commentators have incorrectly pigeonholed PR as a small-parties issue, rather than a voters-rights issue. Under the current system, voters in the minority, including many Liberals in the West and Conservatives in the East, cast wasted votes. They vote, but gain no representation. The fight for PR isn’t about left versus right or East versus West. It’s about making every citizen matter by making every vote count. Larry Gordon, executive director,

Fair Vote Canada, Toronto

I disagree strongly that the cause of poor voter turnout among young people has to do with our electoral system. The idea of proportional representation is very confusing, and I don’t believe that it will bring more voters to the table. It is not the current system that is turning away young voters— Canada’s youth are not voting because they are not informed. As a recent high-school graduate, I agree with academic Henry Milner that the only way to get the youth vote

out is to push for more political teaching in our high schools. Until I decided to take a major in political science at university, I knew nothing about the Canadian government or the parties that I had the right to choose from. I believed that Canadian politics were boring and uninteresting, and that is how many other Canadian youths feel as well. When the youth are informed they will care, and when they care we will see them voting.

Katrina Clouthier, Huntsville, Ont.

John Geddes’s fix for declining voter turnout, changing the electoral system, overlooks the fact that our present system was in place at a time when turnout was high. What’s changed is that elected legislators are now less powerful. There are many reasons— one being that the great moral issues of our times have become exclusive property of the courts.

Dave Baugh, Sylvan Lake, Alta.

Regarding the question of why voter turnout might have been so low in the federal election, remember this: most of the media and three of our four major political parties are liberal on social matters. Dissent from the prevailing wisdom on matters such as unrestricted abortion, homosexual marriage, gun control, privatization of medicare, etc., was met during the campaign not with countering arguments, but with shock, denunciation, demands that the dissenter retract his position and that the leader of his party expel any dissenters. If Canada has a real liberal consensus, dialogue would not be in doubt, there would be nothing to fear. But our national broadcasters, newspapers, magazines and most politicians react as if there is much to fear from the dissenters. Could voter apathy be connected to the fact that some Canadians realize there are times when we only pretend to be a real democracy? Neil Andersen, Burnaby, B.c.

Western francophones

S. T. Tugwell from British Columbia writes that the French language does not have much standing west of Ontario (“Language debates,” The Mail, July 19). With respect to Calgary, as well as the rest of Alberta, this is simply not true. My wife is French Canadian, and wherever we go in this beautiful city, we come across francophones. We also

have many French-immersion schools. The principle of two official languages is truly alive and kicking in Alberta, regardless of what some Conservative MPs, or others, will have you believe.

Werner Patels, Calgary

Señorita Corona

Just when I was starting to feel neglected by Canadian breweries as a beer-chugging female, Lianne George describes my plight in her article “Babes in brewland” (Marketing July l). I’d like to tell those beer companies that have always sought the loyalties of the male pounders and never mine, that there’s an untapped market of female chuggers, not sippers, out there, who are keeping their Mexican competition in business. Corona treats me and my guzzling friends and daughters with respect.

Lois Brymer, Vancouver

Marines do it better

I appreciate your publishing “Looking for a few good Canucks” (World,Julyl2).Itoo am a Canadian citizen serving as a U.S. Marine and spent April through October last year in Iraq as an infantryman with the 1st Marine Division. Prior to joining the Marines, I spent six years in the Canadian Armed Forces. Increasing frustration with the seeming

a

Canadians are more laidback than Americansand that has advantages when dealing with different cultures

neglect of the Canadian military was my main motivation to emigrate south of the border and work with a force that did not have its hands tied by increasing budget restraints. While I do not necessarily agree with observations set forth by Capt. Michael Muehle that Canadians are better suited to peacekeeping than war-fighting, I agree that Canadians are generally more laid-back than Americans, and that has its advantages when dealing with different cultures. While my loyalties lie with “Corps and Country”—in this case, the U.S.—after my time as an active Marine has passed, I plan on returning to rejoin my friends and family in my home, Canada.

Lance-Cpl. Matthew Fisher, Middleburg, Va.

Heroines of yesteryear

It is refreshing to see an article such as Tom Boreskie’s on the gold-medal-winning 1928 Canadian women’s track team (“Unbroken record,” History, July 19). While they have largely been forgotten, their story is an inspiration to Olympians of today. There was no doping, no fretting over the size of such a small team. The Matchless Six, as they are known, had a story worth telling and retelling—quality from such a small number, courage combined with selflessness, and just plain skill.

Rochelle Thompson, Toronto

Costly adventures

Garry Sowerby, the record-setting, longdistance adventure driver, personifies much of the western perspective on life that causes pain and suffering worldwide (“I just became this car nut,” Q&A, July 19). Why drive a car around the world and use more auto fuel than any other single person? Because he can. Viewing conflict-torn countries, destitute communities and have-not environments through the windshield, but not making a difference. The priority, after all, is to drive as far and fast as possible— and then have the notable conquest of fuel consumption listed in a shiny record book back home. Which Canadian will next receive a dignifying Maclean’s spread with accompanying large photo? The hero who ran his air conditioning longer than anyone in the country, or the lawn-watering suburban resident who used more water than anyone else ever before?

Rudy Kehler, Hope, B.C.