The Mail

March 22 1999

The Mail

March 22 1999

The Mail

Alanis's world

Congratulations on putting the reluctant diva Alanis Morissette on your cover, and for your lively, well-balanced article (“Reinventing Alanis,” March 8). They are a fitting tribute to a young Canadian singer calmly placing her artistic integrity above her fame. An unlikely Morissette fan (I’m nearly 65 and don’t even like rock music), I bought her first CD after seeing her Ironic video. I listened to that CD repeatedly, fascinated by how she enters another world when she sings: a world where she is accountable only to herself; a world where being true to her art is more important than projecting an image. Hearing that truthseeking voice, I began to appreciate her uniqueness among pop singers.

Keith Dixon, St. Catharines, Ont.

Was it really necessary to have the March 8 issue dominated by such a fawning tabloid piece on Alanis Morissette? How is Canadian culture served by giving this foulmouthed shock rocker a platform on which


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to display her self-centredness and her sexual promiscuity? Some of Morissette’s lyrics would make Howard Stern blush. It is a shame that Morissette keeps hogging the limelight, because there is no lack of Canadian performers who can convey profound emotion without explicit lyrics or swear words.

Christopher Van-Lane, Newmarket, Ont.

Life on the street

As a person who has lived on the street, I found “Small solutions” (Canada/SpeI cial Report, March 8) quite interesting. Unlike a great deal of the people in the article, I was not involved with drugs or alcohol. I had opened my own business with my savings, and in a year, lost everything. I was homeless by choice, choosing not to burden friends or family. I lived on the streets of St. Catharines, Ont., for three months and slept on a friend’s couch for another eight months. I would not wish that life on my worst enemy. I never asked for pity and I never asked for handouts, but there are indeed people who play the system. It was not uncommon to see people spend their days getting free meals from religious organizations and their nights getting drunk or stoned. There is also the $1,000 club: people diagnosed with schizophrenia or manicdepression, who get $1,000 a month disability. I have seen many of them spend their money on drugs the first week of the month, then they end up sleeping on the street because they have no money. Unfortunately, the future will bring more mainstream working-class people to the streets. What is the answer—education, compassion, political pressure? We have to open our hearts to these people.

Micheál Teal, St. Catharines, Ont.

The home-work split

I am a man and I am a full-time stay-athome parent. I am amazed that liberated feminist women in 1999 speak about the family as if men aren’t a part of it and don’t care to be (“The mother load,” Cover, March 1). In my circle of friends and acquaintances, more than a quarter of the parents who choose to stay home are male. The fact that stay-at-home dads aren’t even mentioned in your articles isn’t just out of touch, it is unfair. Having said that, I see an inherent irony in my situation. While many stay-at-home

The Chuvalo effect

My daughter was vice-principal at Chinguacousy Secondary School northwest of Toronto. Knowing my interest in boxing, she invited me to hear George Chuvalo speak to an assembly (“Coming out swinging,” Profile, March 8). To a full audience of teenagers, Chuvalo came on dressed in an old T-shirt and baggy trousers. For the next hour, the audience was entranced. Fie was direct, sincere, vulnerable and very, very articulate. You could have heard a pin drop as he discussed his life and delivered his tirade against the use of drugs. I was truly impressed. Believe me, Chuvalo is making a real difference with the young crowd.

Norman R. Kirk, Toronto

moms I know receive such unfair criticisms as ‘You’re wasting your life,” I receive nothing but congratulations on my decision.

Thomas Sparling, Winnipeg

Feminism was supposed to be the ultimate liberation for women. In reality, it has spawned only guilt and anguish and has just moved the chain from the home to the office. How has our society become so heartless and without compassion that it has taken away one of the mutual pleasures of a parent and child: constant companionship on a daily basis. Mary Nemeth’s honest and eloquently penned article is heart-warming (“A feminist stays home”). However, I, too, fear the reaction of a potential employer on seeing a fiveor six-year “hole” in my résumé. If all families had a parent at home until the children reached school age, then that hole would be a workforce standard and not something employers could discriminate against. But take heart, Mary, as Peter Bowie from Deloitte & Touche alluded to in the main article, the workforce needs us—it cannot dismiss 50 per cent of the brain power. No doubt by the time I need my power suit again it will be out of style, but I am confident I can find a new one—and a job. The boys can have the boardroom for now. I’m staying at home.

Jill Fraser, Dijon, France

How about interviewing a couple that has absolutely no choice than for both to work? I wonder if any of the professional couples in your article could imagine having a combined income of less than $50,000, living in a two-bedroom house with two children, and working opposite schedules so that day care expenses can be kept down. My husband and I have been doing this for years now, and our children are not suffering. Quite the contrary: our eldest son (who, incidentally,

spent many years in day care) is at the top of his class. It seems to me that the people in your article want it all: high-paying, fulfilling jobs, a huge house, two brand-new cars and perfect kids. Then they wonder why they’re unhappy. There is a simple answer. As I always tell my seven-year-old son, you can’t have it all.

Sarah Hansen, Portugal Cove, Nfld.

You missed mentioning an essential problem in the work/stay-home dilemma: the instability of marriage. Many people live in relationships that by definition have no commitment. Many are aware from divorce statistics that they never know when their partner will announce: “I don’t want to be married to you any more.” Therefore, neither partner can afford to stay out of the job market, and lose seniority, experience and pension rights. No wonder there’s a “mother load.”

Marian MacLellan, Saskatoon

I had to pinch myself. Was I dreaming? Was this a 1950s copy of Maclean’s? In a society where women and men are equal, the cover line would not ask “Should mom stay home?” but rather “Should one parent stay home?”

Luella Thomson, Orangeville, Ont,

Women ambassadors

The acknowledgment of Margaret Meagher as Canada’s first woman ambassador is true, but only in the narrowest sense (Passages, March 8). Irene Parlby, minister without portfolio in the United Farmers of Alberta government of Alberta, and one of the “Five Persons,” was appointed by Prime Minister R. B. Bennett as Canada’s first woman delegate (ambassador) to the League of Nations in 1930.

Robert Lampará, Red Deer, Alta.