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Different dynamic

You say ‘essentialist radical feminists’ wish to exclude trans women from women’s spaces (NI 486).

They are not ‘essentialist radical’, they are just feminists. And they don’t wish to exclude trans women because of prejudice. It’s because not all, but most, ‘women-only’ spaces were created, (over many years of hard work) as a first step to solving some problems of people who were brought up as girls. Of course, trans women, and men, have problems as well, but they are different problems. It may be like a gambling addict going to Alcoholics Anonymous; it would be interesting to discuss where their experiences were the same and where they differed, but it would change the dynamic.

Henrietta Cubitt Cambridge, England

Social contruct

Re: ‘Ma vie en jeune’, NI 486. It seems (to me, a cis-gender female) as though gender is as much a social construct as sexuality and that it’s much more of a spectrum than an ‘either this or that’ scenario.

Louise Sheridan via Facebook

White Helmets

Re: ‘Rushing towards death’, NI 485. I had not heard of the White Helmets before reading this article. I am so moved and in awe of what they are doing. There is still a lot most people don’t know about what is happening in Syria. I have thought for some time that the world has gone very quiet about Bashar al-Assad since ISIS took centre stage and how that must suit him. It is interesting to read Raed Saleh’s view (that first we need to get rid of Assad, the first terrorist, and then the Syrians will be able to deal with ISIS) at a time when Western powers are considering working with Assad to get rid of ISIS as a first priority.

Maggie via our website

Unnatural selection?

Re: ‘What do Syrians want?’, NI 485. Another carefully selected survey that betrays the bigger picture on behalf of those that pursue regime change in their own interests. The vast majority of displaced Syrians are in government-held areas. This would not be if they were, as claimed by ‘activists’, being killed by their own government. Syrians overwhelmingly elected their government, they are the ones with the right to choose.

Demonizing the head of state in order to attack the whole state is a failed tactic that directly leads to the chaos we have now – see Iraq and Libya. Degrading legitimate state security forces has provided the vacuum for extremism to flourish, which threatens us all and increases the refugee crisis. The answer has to be to stop interfering. Stop training and arming Syria’s assassins and stop the sanctions: this will allow Syrians to restore the peace and rebuild their nation.

Simon Wolfers via our website

Singled out

Re: ‘A resilient revolution’, NI 485. Not just this article in particular, which was excellent, but the whole issue! Using it to challenge a whole lot of my Facebook friends into stunned silence. So well-timed. If I had to pick an issue that made my long-time subscription worthwhile, it would be this one.

Grace Gorman via our website

Rural opposition

Your ‘basic principles’ of an alternative society (‘What should we stand for?’, NI 484) included a bullet point of ‘reducing… suburban sprawl, and encouraging a more equal distribution of population between rural and urban areas’.

Presumably by lowering urban densities and raising rural ones? A bit like suburbs, then.

Each year, an extra 100,000 or so British residents move down into southeast England, which is also the destination of most immigrants and refugees who come to the UK. There is an acute housing crisis there, particularly for the poorest in society. So leaving aside some prior questions like cost, ownership, and the personal wishes of the families who would occupy them, what would be the practical realization of your ‘basic principle’ for England?

For all its faults and frailties, our current planning system tries to deliver answers to this conundrum, and (just for instance) in the last 10 years all three mainstream parties have actively promoted in government the establishment of new towns and communities to meet the needs. Sadly it’s usually the people in the low-density rural areas who most strongly oppose these plans, and in doing so they freely quote the arguments about sustainability and ‘de-growth’ you advanced so eloquently.

Andrew Stunell Stockport, England