The male gaze
Cycling to work, Ian Brown sees a pretty young woman and decides to spend the rest of the day scoping out the fair sex ( I Can Hear The Charges Now: Objectifier, Perv ... Man – Focus, March 24).
I want his job. Resumé to follow.
Michael Gillgannon, Saskatoon
Women look, too. We, too, are biologically programmed to notice the beautiful and the sexually attractive. It’s animal instinct. And, if we have a partner we are happy with, we, too, might feel a flash of guilt. But mostly we just enjoy. There is nothing wrong with looking. As for the women bemoaning their loss of attractiveness, men, too, understand that with age comes the inevitable: Women stop noticing. It’s biology, and gender has no prerogative.
Barbara Stowe, Vancouver
It is nice to ponder one decent man’s musings on how the male gaze makes him feel; talking about a privilege is the first step to unpacking it. I often enjoy the male gazer on the street, as long as he “keeps what he sees to himself,” although I do not need a glance to tell me that I am “healthy and at an evolutionary advantage.”
I beg everybody, however, to remember that the male gaze continues to peek out of policy, gawk from law enforcement and scrutinize via the economy. In these realms, the gazers are not so silent as the respectful men who bicycle behind me. Gazers everywhere, bone up on your de Beauvoir and let what you learn inform your next vote.
Maggie Pearson, Halifax
A man has never walked a gauntlet of construction workers and felt diminished and threatened. He’s never been mortified by the boys at the swimming pool or run from a leering phalanx at the community club.
He didn’t grow up in the same world I did, at the other end of the telescope. In his world, he’s been judge and jury all his life. How fortunate for him.
At 50-plus and “still attractive,” here’s what I tell the boys in my family: A young man sizing up a woman as to whether or not she will sleep with him looks stupid and insensitive. A middle-aged man – particularly one who is married – looks pathetic. And an older man? That’s just creepy.
Margo Goodhand, Winnipeg
Political theme park
Politics in Canada is a strange parallel world populated by doppelgangers.
With the election of Tom Mulcair ( NDP Opts For A Power Broker Over A Protest Leader – online, March 24) the saintly crusading NDP is now run by a Liberal hungry for power. The Liberals are run by an NDPer too busy being angry and saintly to ever attain power. The Conservatives are run by a crusading Reformer who was a monarchist Red Tory all along. Covering all of this is a news media addicted to the organized hatred of the U.S. Republican Party.
Canada is not a country; it is a theme park.
Brian Beckett, Nepean, Ont.
State of the unions
The decline of organized labour sets out the now commonly posed questions concerning the relevance of unions in today’s economic and social environment and the appropriateness of traditional adversarial collective bargaining practices ( Organized Labour Is Fighting To Survive – Focus, March 24).
However, there are more fundamental issues. Unions provide employees with a form of representative “voice” at the workplace and varying degrees of influence over their terms and condition of work. As levels of union representation fall, this voice is reduced. The question is, what social value do we attach as a society to employees having input and influence over their working conditions? Are we satisfied with an increasingly employer-directed workplace and diminished employee influence in an increasingly educated, democratized and rights-based society?
Dan Cameron, industrial-relations lecturer, Hill School of Business, University of Regina
Regardless of how you feel about unions, women or immigrants, no one has the right to treat another person the way the man in the photo does as he is spitting on the striking baggage handler. I don't know who he is, but I suspect he has the means to afford a vacation and/or a flight that the baggage handler, on an hourly wage, can only dream of.
It is exactly for this reason, to counter the perpetuation of exploitation, that unions exist. Perhaps it’s time for unions to change, but it is most certainly time for those being served by unionized workers to do so as well.
Carol Gottlob, Burlington, Ont.
The extent that collective bargaining rights are no longer considered a positive social force has much more to do with the decades-long assault on organized labour from employers and governments. Let’s not mince words here: A tremendous amount of money and energy has been allocated to vilifying expressions of collective solidarity and class unity as a necessary alternative to the mantra of acquisitive individualism. With this kind of relentless bad press, it’s no surprise the casual observer is skeptical of the union movement.
Of course, Canadian unions must accept some of the blame for their unfavourable public image, as they have too often functioned as overly pragmatic and reactionary entities. Yet to suggest that organized labour has ceased to make an important contribution in redressing ongoing societal inequalities is to misunderstand both the historical legacy and present-day reality. As a nation, we’re better for the shared commitment of workers to one another.
Peter McInnis, Antigonish, N.S.
The Ford afforded
The point Marcus Gee is missing ( An Open Letter To Those Who Elected Rob Ford – Toronto edition, March 24) is this: We simply didn’t want the “other” guy more than we wanted Mr. Ford. There is a price to pay for everything in life, and he seems to be it for us.
Catherine Orion, Toronto
Before the annual campaign to bash Toronto hockey fans begins ( It’s Hockey Schadenfreude Time Again – March 24), may I suggest that the real Leafs Nation is not to be found in the corporate seats, acting “in keeping with Toronto’s epithet, Hogtown.”
Who can afford tickets to games? Who thinks our loyalty has any influence on the franchise? We don’t. We’re just cheering for those men on the ice playing a game we love. I could no more desert them than I could turn my back on my kids. Being a citizen of Leafs Nation is in the blood. Those on the outside will never understand.
Jean Mills, Guelph, Ont.
I found Connecting The Dots On Electroshock (Life – March 23) informative and exciting as a possible treatment for severe depression. The article notes that professor David Nutt has published a paper stating that the active ingredient in magic mushrooms is another possibility.
There’s no doubt in my mind which treatment I’d prefer.
Norman Barney, Petrolia, Ont.