I REALLY enjoyed Judith Orr's article in Socialist Worker, 'The Body for Sale' (12 July). I agree that many of the gains of the women's movement of the late 60s and 70s have been lost. I would add sexism in advertising and merchandising starts from the cradle. Children's TV carries more advertising than other programmes, and almost every BBC programme has merchandising tie-ins.
At Toys 'R' Us you see shelves and shelves where everything is pink, aimed at little girls, and others aimed at boys where all the toys are khaki. A small section contains the paints and so on for both boys and girls. The success of the Gameboy was followed by the launch of a Gamegirl - guess what colour that was. Lego makes pink and pastel coloured Duplo sets for girls to build houses with. A four year old girl in my class picked up a pink pencil saying, 'I got the Barbie one, who wants the Barbie one?'
Fashionable clothes for girls are copies of 'sexy' adult styles. The teenage magazines, which have a massive readership among ten to 12 year olds, offer make-up tips and advice about how to make yourself attractive to boys. Toys, clothes, advertising and magazines combine to present children with an image of what it is to be a 'proper' girl or a 'real' boy.
In schools the anti-racist and anti-sexist initiatives of the late 70s and early 80s which gave girls confidence and allowed them to outstrip boys academically (causing a panic) have been marginalised by the steamroller of the National(ist) Curriculum, literacy and numeracy hours and drive for targets, standards and league tables.
But I am confident that the amazing school students whose protests against the war showed us all how to do it will refuse to stand for sexist crap and help us regain the ground we have lost.
Sarah Cox London
We are not on our own
I'M WRITING on behalf of the electricians on strike in Manchester to thank the local SWP who arranged for us to send a delegation to Marxism. We now know that nobody is on their own with their struggles against greedy employers.
Tony Jones Manchester electrician
Message to José
JUST A message to pass on José Bové's address in jail in France: Jose Bove nod'ecrou 22377 Y, bloc A 07, 34753 Villeneuve-les-Maguelonne. This is a very accurate address - please write the whole thing or it won't go to José at all.
He's been sentenced to ten months in jail for having uprooted genetically modified (GM) crops a couple of years ago. He thinks we still don't know enough about GM to start growing them, in regard to what is going to end up on our plates. He has already served some time in jail for having dismantled a McDonald's 'restaurant'.
José is the leader of the French alternative farmers' union, the Confédération Paysanne, fighting for a healthy agriculture and a fair deal for Third World farmers' agriculture.
Deportation must be 'out'
TEN YEAR old Sabrina Bamburac and her parents from Croatia are threatened with deportation within the next week. The news came as a shock to parents and fellow school students in Tyneside who rallied round.
Branka (Sabrina's mum) said, 'For five years we have tried to keep ourselves to ourselves. We had no idea that people would be so friendly and helpful.' Last week a school talent show turned into a meeting of 120 and MP Nick Brown pledged his support.
Sabrina is a talented tennis player and the Lawn Tennis Association of Great Britain spoke out against the deportation.
Linda Carruthers, Tyneside
Roger Lyons has lost his roar
I'M SURE I am not the only one rejoicing at the fact that Roger Lyons (general secretary of the Amicus-MSF union) has announced his early retirement. He was completely out of touch with the membership, evident in his vocal support for Blair's war. He even went as far as stopping local branches affiliating to the Stop the War Coalition.
His campaign against business fat cats was a complete farce - he was seeking a 30 percent pay claim to bring his salary up to £114,000 per year. Blair loses one of the few supporters he had left in the unions.
Andrew Collingwood, York
My bosses use MI5 methods
I WORK at Birmingham International Airport and after the last bank holiday myself and three colleagues were suspended for falsifying timesheets. For the past 20 years we had an arrangement on bank holidays where if the workload was low we wouldn't need to work the full shift.
Cover is always maintained, with those not on the premises only a phone call away. I was filmed the following Sunday arriving home eight minutes early. This was due to a 'gentleman's agreement' where my relief came in an hour early to cover me. I feel strongly about having myself and young family under surveillance for something as minor as a discrepancy in timesheets.
Kev Baldry, Birmingham
New Labour's Wills crumbles
THE RECENT resignation of Michael Wills (Labour MP for Swindon North) as junior minister is a sign of the New Labour project crumbling under pressure from the left.
Wills is a former diplomat and BBC producer. His only qualification for being a Labour MP was his close friendship with Gordon Brown. Wills wrote the speech where Brown pledged to stick within Tory spending limits. He says he is resigning to spend more time campaigning for progressive causes like fair trade.
Wills has been forced into adopting a more left posture to defend his parliamentary position. He believed Tony Blair about WMD in Iraq, and was relentlessly hounded by Swindon Stop the War Coalition - the unravelling lies will have been a blow to him. Swindon North Labour Party is also under real electoral pressure from the left.
secretary Swindon Socialist Alliance
Write to Eddie Gilfoyle
EDDIE GILFOYLE has been moved from Wakefield to Ryehill Prison. In 1993 Eddie was convicted of murdering his wife, Paula. Eddie has always maintained his innocence and that he is a victim of police incompetence.
Write to Innocent Eddie Gilfoyle, DX 1827 (Carling Wing), HM Prison Ryehill, Willoughby, near Rugby, Warwickshire.
Eddie Gilfoyle Campaign
Give people money, not corporations
I'M A 16 year old writing to anyone who was devastated by the article in last week's Socialist Worker titled 'System That Enforces Poverty And Death'. Just the picture brought tears to my eyes. Jarson Mphezewa is just one of the sad cases around the world who is affected by the system we live in. Each day children and people die from poverty and diseases as unserious as diarrhoea.
We are not humans. We are not free. We are corporate zombies, animals locked away from free thinking. Each time we buy from Nestle we are becoming the serfs that Tony Blair and George Bush want us to be. We might be getting a nice tasty chocolate bar, but the children and people who are made to make them are getting a nasty taste of death.
It's this system which makes people my age so apathetic about issues that really matter, seeing celebrities and fashion as more important. Each time we shop at McDonald's, Asda, Local Plus, Blockbusters or when we buy from Nestle, Coca-Cola, or even non-US corporations we are making them bigger, stronger and richer.
We need to boycott these companies before it's too late. We need to save the people who are dying because of this foul world. Think about the people who are less fortunate than you and me. They are the ones we should be giving our money to - not the 1 percent who are more wealthy than the poorest 57 percent.
Aimee Thornton, by e-mail
Justice for Tom
YOUR READERS may be interested in some articles on the internet detailing how the situation regarding Tom Hurndall has progressed. Tom was the British International Solidarity Movement (ISM) volunteer, shot in the head by an Israeli soldier in Gaza earlier this year.
The ISM show solidarity with the Palestinians. Tom's family still fight for justice. There is an emotionally hard-hitting audio recording of an interview with Tom«s parents and the parents of Rachel Corrie (another ISM volunteer, who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in March).
Go to www.tomhurndall.co.uk/update-25-06-03.asp and see the 'media' section.
Adrian Hart, by e-mail
Were you a protest witness?
THE PROTEST against Israeli prime minister and war criminal Ariel Sharon on Monday evening of last week drew around 1,000 protesters. The demo was peaceful. When Sharon's car arrived in Whitehall the crowd got very angry, but the police became hostile.
Eyewitnesses report that, as the crowd thinned out around 8.30pm, the police became aggressive towards demonstrators. Max Watson was thrown to the ground by police and the crowd surged forward trying to pull the police off Max.
When asked why Max had been taken, the police said he had thrown a missile. Another woman, Sarah Hussein, was pushed aggressively by the police. They said it was because she had 'charged' at them. But she had done nothing except shout at an officer, who later apologised to her.
Another woman was handcuffed and taken away after she shouted at them for dragging Max away. Max has been charged with violent disorder and is due in court this Friday. Three other people who were arrested also look like they may be charged. If you were a witness please phone 07801 789 297.
Media Workers Against the War