For more than 30 years, women have fought hard for the right to make their own choices. Many women’s lives have changed for the better due to this struggle. It is sad and frustrating to realize, however, that the “Pressures to conform” (Cover,Jan. 12) to a culture fixated on thinness and youth have many women trapped in a different web that is just as controlling as the past one of inequality and inequity. As a social worker and mother of four, I am horrified how this pressure leads many young women to strive to mould their bodies into an unrealistic ideal, risking their health and well-being in the process. The incidence of eating disorders continues to rise at an alarming rate, and while the fashion industry and the media must take a large portion of the responsibility, women also must strive to change a society based on a culture of “lookism.” Together we can stop this horror and move our society towards one where all people can be accepted for who they are on the inside rather than how they look on the outside.
Liz Leroux, Calgary H
Why the emphasis on women’s health? Has it escaped everyone’s notice that men die of prostate cancer at about the same rate as women die of breast cancer, but research funding for breast cancer, and media coverage of the disease far exceeds that for prostate cancer? Except for specifically female conditions such as cervical cancer, males suffer a higher morbidity and mortality from all causes, in all age-groups, than women, and their life expectancy is about seven years less. Three generations ago, the difference was only one year. Doesn’t that suggest there are serious and uniquely male health problems in our society that may be getting worse?
Rick Ward, Regina 111
I found the cover story “When a body turns on itself’ to be very interesting as I am one of the people affected by an autoimmune disease—I was diagnosed with Takayasu’s arteritis, a chronic inflammation of the aorta, at the age of 38. My attention was also caught by the mention of the link between autoimmune diseases and endometriosis—a condition where cells migrate from the uterus to other parts of the body— as I had this disease in my 20s and had a full hysterectomy. It was good to read, even though you feel that you are all alone, that there are others just like you out there and someone is doing something about it.
Louise Hobbs, Brampton, Ont. HI
Your article on hormone replacement therapy had a fitting title: “The HRT conundrum.” Not only is it a conundrum for women, but also for Mother Nature. For the first time in history, women have started living well beyond our reproductive years. Certainly, research needs to clarify the risks of taking HRT, the big one being breast cancer. As a young woman whose treatment for advanced breast cancer threw me into early menopause, I found I couldn’t stand its ravages for more than six years. I put myself on HRT recently and now feel like a new woman.
Dr. Maria Hugi, Vancouver
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
should be addressed to: Maclean’s Magazine Letters 777 Bay St.,Toronto, Ont. M5W IA7 Fax: (416) 596-7730 H E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Maclean’s welcomes readers’ views, but letters may be edited for space and clarity. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number. Submissions may appear in Maclean’s electronic sites.
I’m not sure I feel much safer knowing that after 65 hours of training, no high-school diploma and at $7.50 an hour, police wannabes are partially protecting our society (“On the mean streets,” Canada/Special Report, Jan. 12). What kind of people will be attract-
I have been in touch with my colleagues from across the country and have heard some wonderful accounts of how people responded to your cover story “Depression” (Dec. 1) by reaching out and seeking help. All across Canada, people were affected by your stories, and the strong messages of hope and optimism that the articles conveyed. I can tell you without hesitation that your work has saved lives over these past few weeks. You have given information and support, you have lifted the stigma against these disorders, and most of all, you have given hope to thousands and thousands of Canadians whose lives are affected by depressive disorders. On behalf of all of us, thank you for a job well done.
William P. Ashdown, President,
The Depression and Manic-Depression Association of Canada, Winnipeg
ed to this kind of work? If, as you say, the police are pleased with these services, and are working with them, will they turn a blind eye to any of their questionable activities?
Steve Eaton, Toronto H
I read this article with enthusiasm. It would be wonderful and definitely cost-effective if private-sector security agencies were to work hand-in-hand with the police in maintaining law and order, but the government should establish laws governing private security organizations, set strict policy guidelines, codes of ethics, and, moreover, it should appoint a licensing body to certify such companies before they are entrusted with the responsibility to protect the general public.
Christopher Kahandaliyanage, St. Catharines, Ont.
I believe your perspective of the private policing industry is an unfair characterization. Private policing includes a multitude of occupational careers, such as investigations, loss prevention, resource protection, hotel and transit enforcement, forensics, as well as corporate and commercial security. To suggest that the private policing industry is poorly educated, barely trained and inadequately equipped is misleading and wrong. The level of professionalism and knowledge in this industry as a whole far exceeds the public police function. The private policing field is highly skilled, educated and efficient. The commercial security field is well trained to meet their present duties, and in this day and
age, it is common to see the majority of staff at least college educated. In fact, there are many educational programs available to update such employees and most reputable companies financially support their staff to do so.
Earl Dickson, Belleville, Ont.
Your article on private policing in Canada was informative and timely, as we all see crime rising and regular police budgets curtailed. But private security forces are a dangerous precedent as they are mainly in existence for the protection of property and money, not the citizens of their jurisdiction. Also, it should be noted that the forces of our two chief railways—CN and CP—have access to the Canadian Police Information Centre computer system in their offices in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. This is far too much clout in the hands of a private corporation. When privacy is an increasingly important issue to most Canadians, it is worrisome to think that such personal information may some day be in the hands of some security guard working for a private organization.
S. K. MacDonnell, Calgary HI
Paying for Bernardo
It is disappointing that the Ontario Court of Appeal says Paul Bernardo is entitled to a publicly funded appeal of his murder convictions (“Public aid for Bernardo,” Canada Notes, Jan.12). While I understand that an appeal process needs to be available, it is hard to imagine why one has been granted in this case. At a time when government budgets are tight, I am angered to think that $60,000 of public funds may be spent on this appeal. More important, my heart goes out to the families of Bernardo’s victims who must once again feel the system has failed them.
Leanne Hagarty, Waterloo, Ont. HI
As a loyal fan of Allan Fotheringham’s weekly efforts, may I ask for a small favor? Even we myopic rural British Columbians know that Reform party Leader Preston Manning didn’t get “his eyes lasered so he can wear contacts” (“The strange shape of the year ahead,” Jan 12). He got his eyes lasered so he doesn’t have to. Would Dr. Fotheringham mind recycling the Manning make-over routine just one more time, and getting it right?
Tom Fletcher, Maple Ridge, B. C. HI
Fotheringham’s column about the Westray disaster (“The ‘stupidity’ of the Westray tragedy,” Dec. 15) was the finest and timeliest he has ever written. It named private people, owner and mine officials, provincial and federal government officials whose greed was greater than their concern for human life.
Chester Rogers, Sarnia, Ont.
Regarding your article “Henderson scores!” (Special Report, Sept. 29) and the ever-elusive search for a Canadian identity. Consider the following: you are at a fitness-club juice bar in Botswana in the sweltering heat reading a well-thumbed, months-old, pass-around copy of Maclean’s. You happen upon the article “Henderson scores!” feel a slight catch in your throat, a wee dampening around the eyes and you look around only to realize that not only does no one care, but no one can even remotely relate to what this unearthed memory— long buried—means to you.
Larry Swatuk, Gaborone, Botswana
The hiring of American Nazi hunter Neal Sher by Justice Minister Anne McLellan is a ploy designed to create the false impression that the federal government is getting tough with Nazi war criminals living in Canada (Passages, Dec. 22). It also implies that Canadians are incompetent and that somehow Sher can do what the RCMP and our national security forces cannot. Sher can do nothing about our legal system that has deported only one suspected Nazi war criminal from this country. He can do nothing about bungling justice department officials who interfered with the judicial independence of the judge hearing a precedent-setting deportation case. This sent the case to the Supreme Court of Canada and delayed the hearing for months. And he can do nothing about essential witnesses who are growing older, getting sick and dying. Most important, Sher can do nothing about the attitude of a government that cares so little about this issue that it has allowed 300 modern-day war criminals to take up residency in this country. The retention of Sher is simply window dressing designed to cover the appalling record of this and past governments in dealing with suspected Nazi war criminals living in Canada.
Jack Ramsay, MP, Camrose, Alta.
Iran reaches out
How could you summarize the impact of the election of President Mohammad Khatami on Iran’s foreign relations without addressing the death sentence, or fatwa, that the Iranian authorities imposed on the British writer Salman Rushdie (“The Tehran spring,”’ World, Dec. 29/Jan. 5)? This act of state terror, which is an unprecedented assault on the right to freedom of expression, poisons Iran’s relations with many countries.
Patrick Kavanagh, Ottawa HI
Last June, I was one of eight student advisers and liaison officers representing universities from across Canada who were invited by Iran’s ministry of culture and higher education to tour about 40 of its universities and research institutes. Our observations confirm your conclusions that the Islamic Republic of Iran wishes to end its isolation from the West, especially the United States. The majority of Iran’s university administrators are U.S.educated and anxious to re-establish official contacts with American universities. In the meantime, Canada is benefiting from the strained relations between Iran and the United States. Of the 3,000 graduate students Iran sponsors overseas, more than 700 are studying at Canadian universities—mostly at the PhD level. Upon their return to Iran, these graduates will be filling senior positions in that country’s rapidly expanding graduate and research programs. As a result, Canada can look forward to ongoing student and faculty exchanges and an increase in economic activity and goodwill between our two countries.
Kurt Tischler, Saskatoon HI
I must respond to the letter ‘Women and violence” in your Dec. 29/Jan. 5 issue. The letter purports to list some of the ways society demeans young women and encourages them to resort to violence. Here’s the rub, though. The writers offer not one scintilla of proof that the activities they list lead young women to commit acts of violence. Where is it shown that young women in communities where fathers watch Baywa tch, or where sex clubs are permitted, or where advertisers use images of attractive women, or where male sports receive more funding than female sports have an increased propensity for violence as compared with women in communities where these activities occur to a lesser degree? And even if their case could be proven, should we have the state prohibit these activities for everyone to ensure that the tiny troubled minority of women affected do not spend their time inflicting murder and mayhem? The cure is much worse than the disease.
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