News roundup for August 2001
A round up of the months news, compiled by Catherine Redfern
Lessing condemns “automatic rubbishing of men”
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
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:
- More women suffer from depression during pregnancy than after
the birth (British Medical Journal)
- Two-thirds of women are in debt (Company magazine)
- Women are more likely to tell the truth on job applications
than men (Mori)
- What women think about most often during the day is ‘good sex’ [48
minutes per day] and ‘bad hair’ [43 minutes] (a US survey)
- 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
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.