News roundup for August 2001

A round up of the months news, compiled by Catherine Redfern

, 1 August 2001

Lessing condemns “automatic rubbishing of men”

BBC Report

The 81-year-old author Doris Lessing, seen by some as a feminist icon,

used her appearance at the Edinburgh book festival to have a go at

the “unthinking and automatic rubbishing of men which is now so

part of our culture that it is hardly even noticed.” Lessing

criticised the ‘women’s movement’ saying that it has a “lazy and

insidious culture” which allows continual attacks on men. Younger

feminist Helen Wilkinson said her remarks were “misguided” and

that she was simply “jumping on the bandwagon that people like

myself have already raised.”

Panic over boys exam results

A and AS-Level exam results again showed a gap between boys and

girls, with girls being 1.9 points ahead of boys overall. Of course we

should ensure everyone, boys and girls, can do their best in exams.

But why was there not this outcry and panic when girls were behind?

Why is this advantage not translated into working life where women

still earn less and men still take the higher jobs? If girls are doing

so much better than boys academically, why are they not represented

in the senior lecturing jobs? I do worry about boys. But I worry

that in concentrating so much on them, the girls will get


Women obsessed with their looks: shock news

A survey by Top Sante magazine of 3,000 women claimed

that two thirds of women would undergo plastic

surgery because they are so unhappy with their looks, 90% said they

felt ‘down’ about their body, and almost three quarters think about

their shape and size every day. Perhaps Germaine Greer was right when

she suggested Body Dismorphic Disorder was an epidemic among Western

women. Scary.

Aborted foetuses could be shown on TV

The Pro-Life Alliance has won the right to challenge a ban on it’s

party political broadcast. Earlier this year the BBC refused to show

the broadcast, which features images of aborted foetuses, because they

claimed it offended public taste and decency. This will be a test case

appeal and will take place in Novemeber. The Pro-Life Alliance, who

want to ban all abortion, claim that the BBC are stopping their right

to freedom of expression: a fundamental human right. “We don’t see why

we should be prevented from showing images of what happens in a legal

activity paid for the the taxpayer.” said a spokesperson.

Moves to increase number of female MPs

A report by the Equal Opportunities Commission has revealed that

Britain has less women MPs than Rwanda, Mozambique and

Turkmenistan. With only 18% of MPs being female, Britain is 33rd

in the league table of women in parliament. The Commission called

for positive measures to be introduced by all parties, concluding

that special measures in Scotland and Wales had had a positive effect.

So far, the Liberal Democrats (who have 5 women MPs out of 52), have

introduced proposals to use all women shortlists whenever an incumbent

MP stands down.

Jewish women protest in London.

Towards the end of last month, Jewish women began protesting

outside the home of a man in north London who has refused to give his

wife a religious divorce for almost 40 years. Under Orthadox Jewish

religious law, women who have not been granted a religious divorce

(or a ‘get’), cannot remarry in a synagogue as they are considered

adulterers. Furthermore, decendants from a second marriage are

considered illegitimate for 10 generations. The rule does not apply to

men. The women protesters are known as ‘chained women’ and they have

set up the ‘Agunot Campaign’ to promote individual cases.

Invention could help detect ‘rape drugs’

A stick has been invented which can identify if a drink has been

spiked with drugs. The invention, which is currently being tested,

could be on sale in clubs and pubs in the future and will enable women

to check their drinks for substances such as Rohypnol, which have been

used by rapists to drug their victims.

Got your pinch of salt ready?

Here’s this month’s dubious study round-up:

  1. More women suffer from depression during pregnancy than after

    the birth (British Medical Journal)

  2. Two-thirds of women are in debt (Company magazine)
  3. Women are more likely to tell the truth on job applications

    than men (Mori)

  4. What women think about most often during the day is ‘good sex’ [48

    minutes per day] and ‘bad hair’ [43 minutes] (a US survey)

  5. Women still do the majority of domestic chores,

    men hold more high-powered jobs than women, and men also get

    higher wages… well, duh. (Office of National Statistics)

That ‘little bit of paper’ could still make a


The girlfriend of an SAS corporal threatened

to sue the MoD because she had not been given a war widow’s pension

after her partner had died, simply because they were not married at

the time. The couple had a child together and had lived together for

several years. In the end the MoD proposed a compromise settlement

but did not seem to fundamentally change its general policy of not

recognising unmarried partners.

‘Period Pills’ pass tests

BBC report

Pills which supress menstruation have been tested successfully on

monkeys. The pills could eventually be used to stop menstruation in

women with endometriosis, or very painful periods. The treatment block

the effects of oestrogen on the lining of the uterus, preventing the

build up of endometrial cells.

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