Letters to the Editor

April 23, 2008

Clothing and sexism

Anne Horan (Write On, GLW #746) writes that in feminist circles it's a no-no to discuss what women wear and that feminists do not criticise women themselves for wearing skimpy clothing. She states that the argument that "feminisim is the right to choose" and "women should be able to wear what they like" are somewhat superficial. She then adds that women wear such clothing probably because it's to please men.

She "would like to see women overcome the issue of presenting themselves, regardless of the relevance of the particular context, in a sexually oriented way, for until this happens, it's likely that they'll continue to be thought of, at least in part, as physical entities on display, and thereby won't achieve total equality with men."

This deserves a much longer response than I can present in a letter, but I'd like to give a few examples to continue exploring this issue. I don't believe that if women stopped wearing skimpy or revealing clothing that they would no longer be treated as sexual objects. I'm certain Horan does not believe this either. But does clothing play a central role in promoting women as sexual objects for men and in maintaining women's oppression?

This week, I heard that after police raided a reglious sect's compound in North America they helped a large number of women and girls to leave the compound. This sect was led by a man who practised polygamy, and is being tried for rape. The sect certainly treated women as sexual objects, whose primary role was to produce offspring. But the clothing these women wore was the opposite of skimpy.

Women in countries such as Pakistan or Iran, where they are forced to wear clothing that may cover them from head to toe, are still treated as sex objects and do not have equality with men.

Mary Merkenich


Nuclear power

Pip Hinman's recitation in GLW #746 of quotations from Dr Jim Green's rather stale arguments and half-truths typical of anti-nuclear fundamentalists does nothing to enhance the science Marxism claims to stand on or present an alternative to the disaster we know as capitalism.

The essential lie here is that nuclear energy is a "non-solution" to global warming; that it will curtail CO2 emissions by only "5%". No evidence is presented to back this claim up. We do know that nuclear energy has "prevented" massive CO2 emissions, particulatly from countries that use nuclear power. The US, for example, with 20% of its electricity generated by nuclear power, would have had to use coal, oil and natural gas to make up for any of this percentage had not nuclear been developed there. That's millions of tonnes of CO2 and particulates not being produced. Does Dr Green dispute this?

In countries such as South Korea, France and Japan, the figures are even more astounding in terms of CO2 not produced. Perhaps Dr Green would rather see coal used to fire power plants instead of nuclear fuel, but no advocate of working-class liberation would ever seriously propose this would they?

Only nuclear power can provide a replacement for fossil fuels in generating electricity 24/7, 365-days-a-year. No wind turbine or solar plant has, to date, replaced a fossil plant. If nuclear power replaced all of Australia's coal-fired power plants, then it would save "exactly" that amount of CO2 and deadly particulate. If this means that Australia produces half its CO2 emissions from coal, then that is the amount of CO2 emissions saved. Playing with percentages based on "studies" of the kind Dr Green uses, is simply falsifying the obvious.

A working-class socialist perspective would avail itself of nuclear energy to reduce and eliminate coal-produced electricity worldwide. It can be done, but only if the fundamentalist anti-nuclear ideology is displaced with a scientific, and Marxist one.

David Walters

Via email


Let us not uncritically accept the dominant Western discourse that Israel has a right to exist. Palestine was peaceful until the Zionist movement sold us the preposterous idea that Palestine really belongs to Jewish people worldwide, and that the non-Jewish inhabitants should be forcibly cleared from it to create space for Jewish migrants from around the world.

When Nazi Germany tried the same trick to create lebensraum for its precious Aryans, the world was incensed and acted decisively to correct the injustice. But Zionist Israel has terrorised, invaded and occupied neighbouring territories for 40 years to create lebensraum for Jewish migrants from around the world, and the West supports and justifies it.

After 60 years of trying, it is clear that the two-state solution is not working and will never work. Even the Zionists understand this because they are hell-bent on ensuring that there is never any chance of a viable Palestinian state.

It is time to create one secular, democratic Palestinian state that will provide equal rights to Jews, Muslims and Christians in Palestine. Belligerent, sectarian states like Nazi Germany and Zionist Israel have no automatic right to exist.

Peter Schulz

St Agnes, SA


Everyone wants to see more democratisation and human rights accountability in China as urged recently in the Amnesty International statement on Tibet to the UN Human Rights Council.

However, there is an anti-China geo-political agenda behind the hypocritical US, UK, EU and Australian criticisms of China over Tibet. Thus, without minimising either tragedy, 34 died in the Watts, Los Angeles, riots in 1965 as compared to Tibetan exile estimates of 150 deaths in the recent Tibet riots.

The most fundamental human right is the right to life. According to data from the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and the UN Population Division, China has made huge advances in dramatically reducing the mortality rate and infant mortality rate in both the Tibetan Autonomous Region and in China as a whole and to similar levels.

Thus the "annual under-five year old infant death rate" is about the same (about 0.6%) in Tibet and China as a whole, as compared to 6.2% for US- and Australia-occupied Afghanistan, 0.12% for occupier Australia and 0.16% for occupier United States.

The annual infant death rate in occupied Afghanistan (6.2%) is 51 times that in occupier Australia, 38 times that in occupier US and similar to the "annual death rate" of 10.2% for Australian prisoners of war of the Japanese in World War II — a war crime for which key Japanese leaders were tried and hanged.

Gideon Polya


Youth program

Plan-it Youth is a community mentoring scheme run by the NSW Department of Education and Training. It involves volunteers helping Year 10 public school students to develop work skills, confidence and goals for their future. Mentors contribute approximately two hours of their time per week to work with students within a school. This program currently exists in several regions across NSW.

In the Riverina region, more than 500 students have been helped since the inception of the program six years ago. The program exists in 16 state secondary schools across the region. This program offers many benefits to students, mentors and the broader community. Students gain confidence, skills and the ability to think more openly about their futures.

As mentioned above, many students are from disadvantaged backgrounds. Plan-it Youth helps to break the cycle of disadvantage. Mentors benefit from being in touch with the younger generation, being occupied and from being appreciated and valued for the help they give. The broader community benefits from the increased community participation of the students once they leave school. Plan-it Youth is also seen as an important crime prevention strategy.

This program is currently under review by the state government. It is possible that this program may not be continued after July this year. Those who have benefited from Plan-it Youth want the government to extend the program in full for another three years.

Amanda Parkes

Wagga Wagga, NSW

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