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 forgotten.

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 November. 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 Orthodox 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, descendants 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 Rhoypnol, 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 difference

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 suppress 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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