News roundup for November/December 2003

Teenage girls “just want to marry and stay at home”

Guardian Report

The next generation of women just want to stay at home to look after their babies, according to CosmoGirl. The magazine surveyed 5000 teenagers and found that their main ambition was to finish university and then return to the home, regardless of what their partners wanted. Over 90% believe it is the man’s responsibility to provide the household’s money, while 85% would rather rely on their partner’s income than forge a career for themselves. Most planned to be married by 25, with 1 in 4 saying marriage was their top ambition in life.

Agony aunt Claire Rayner commented: ‘This survey doesn’t indicate that the battles of feminism have been lost…Feminism was never opposed to marriage or children. On the contrary, feminism was about equal opportunities for women to do what they wanted to do, when they wanted to do it, which is exactly what these girls are choosing to do.’

“Stylish Mrs Howard’s wow factor”

BBC Report: Mrs Howard

MediaGuardian Report: John Prescott

This month, Ian Duncan Smith was ousted by Michael Howard as leader of the Conservative Party. Haven’t had enough of this story yet? Then take a look at the BBC’s angle on the story, entitled “Stylish Mrs Howard’s wow factor”, which analyses Mrs Howard’s potential “first lady” qualities. Maybe IDS’s spouse Betsy just wasn’t attractive enough to give her husband credibility as a potential PM? “Michael Howard’s wife Sandra could bring glitz and glamour to the Conservative Party with her good looks and style” the Beeb helpfully tell us. Watch out Theresa May, the tabloids may stop obsessing about your shoes yet. Meanwhile, John Prescott came under fire for calling an ITN reporter a “silly girl” during an interview. The “girl” in question, Ms Weiner, is 44 and has been a reporter for 20 years. Silly boy, eh?

Most women ‘hate their bodies’

BBC Report

Six in 10 women cannot stand the way they look and most would opt for plastic surgery if it was free, according to a new survey. AOL interviewed 45,000 women and found that only 1 in 4 were ‘completely happy’ with the way they looked. The survey also found that many women worry daily about their body shape and dream of losing weight.

Women scientists ‘worse off’

BBC Report

“The Experiences of Young Women in Science” by Rachael Hawkins

Women scientists feel they have a worse chance of advancing in their careers than men, a new survey reveals. Of the 2000 university scientists and engineers interviewed by the Athena Project, 40% of the women believed they were lower paid than men, while 30% who had taken a career break had problems returning to work.

Survey leader Caroline Fox called for a “better focus” on improving career progression for women scientists.

Abortion laws ‘to be challenged’

BBC Report

Anti-abortion campaigners are hoping to use the new EU constitution to prevent women aborting foetuses with severe genetic disorders, claiming it is akin to ‘eugenic practices’. This is outlawed under the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Life and the Pro-Life Alliance were confident of a win, but a spokesman for the Foreign Office said they did not have a case, stating that the legislation was to protect against ‘campaigns for sterilisation, forced pregnancies, compulsory ethnic marriage and all acts deemed to be international crimes in the statute of the international criminal court’ rather than abortion.

The pro-choice group the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said the anti-abortionists were ‘on a hiding to nothing’: “When women take the decision to end a pregnancy affected by Down’s syndrome or spina bifida they are making a personal or individual choice. It would be ridiculous for anyone to suggest woman making that decision is doing so with any eugenic intent.”

Postnatal depression “link to violent children”

BBC Report

Babies born to women suffering from postnatal depression are more likely to become violent and aggressive children, new research suggests. A team at Cardiff University followed the progress of 122 children and found that boys with mothers who were depressed were more likely to get into fights and be suspended from school. Girls were less likely to be affected. The researchers were unsure why there should be this link, but suggested it may be connected to the effect of the mother’s hormones, or because mothers who are depressed may be less able to cope with a child displaying behavioural difficulties. Dr Maureen Marks of the Institute of Psychiatry urged caution, however, saying: “Lots of women with post-natal depression look after their children very well, in fact some over-compensate…it would be wrong to think that a child born to a mother who has the condition is automatically at risk.”

Nightclub drinks spiked with drugs

BBC Report

Police posing as drinks collectors in an Essex club found eight drinks had been spiked with so-called ‘date rape’ drugs. This find represented 4% of the glasses analysed, a result that ‘amazed’ police. Sergeant Nigel Dermot, who led the survey, called the results ‘extraordinary’ but added it was ‘far too early to draw any conclusions from them.’

Senior officers believe the use of Rohypnol and GHB, that disorientated their victims and cause short-term memory loss, is under-reported. It can be very difficult to prove than an attacker tricked the victim into taking the drugs.

No volunteers for orgasm implant



A scientist who claims to have invented a device that causes a woman to climax at the touch of a button cannot find any volunteers to test it for him. Dr Stuart Meloy, from North Carolina, told New Scientist:

“I thought people would be beating my door down.”

British experts have suggested that such a device may be unsuitable for women, saying it could be unnecessarily invasive and adding that female sexual dysfunction is far more complex than its male counterpart.

‘Four season’ pill to be launched

BBC Report

A new contraceptive pill that cuts the number of periods to four a year could be launched in the UK next year. Seasonale has already been approved for use in the US and contains the same hormones as the conventional pill. The Family Planning Association welcomed the move, saying that the lower number of short breaks could make it easier for women to resume taking it, reducing the risk of unwanted pregnancy.

They added: ‘It will enable some women who have a problem with their periods to manage their lives better. It’s not a ‘lifestyle drug’.’

More women marrying younger men

BBC Report

The number of women marrying younger men has soared in the last 25 years, from 15% to 26%. The Office of National Statistics concluded that people were marrying less for social reasons and more for ‘individual goals’. The report’s authors said their findings were important as the changing patterns could have far-reaching effects for older couples – e.g. there could be far fewer widows. Celebrity couples such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin (31 and 26) and Madonna and Guy Richie (45 and 35) could be becoming more typical, they added.

Mother jailed for stillbirth

Alternet Report

An American woman is facing twelve years in prison for giving birth to a stillborn baby. Regina McKnight was judged by South Carolina prosecutors to have committed murder by using cocaine while pregnant. South Carolina is the only state with a child-abuse law that can be applied to “viable fetuses” and at least 100 women in the last fifteen years have faced criminal charges for using drugs while pregnant. Immediately after the Supreme Court has decided not to review McKnight’s conviction, Honolulu city prosecutors began proceedings against a Hawaiian woman for the death of her two-day-old son. She has been charged with manslaughter for using crystal methamphetamine during her pregnancy.

More news stories from November-December in brief…

  • ‘Loudmouth’ Sarah Cox axed from Radio 1 breakfast show…to be replaced by loudmouth Chris Moyles.
  • African women are 175 times more likely to die in childbirth than Westerners
  • Ofcom proposes wider role for Advertising Standards Authority
  • Thousands of women visit ‘no-strings’ sex website
  • Cousins jailed for murdering 21-year-old bride to prevent her marrying out of choice
  • Contraceptive injection ‘could damage bones’
  • ‘Virtual cyberbabes’ on display in London exhibition, ‘Perfectly Real: Women in Bits and Bytes’
  • Young women who have breast cancer may have a high chance of the disease recurring
  • ‘Sex choice’ mother has two girls
  • Egg-share plan ‘safe for donors’
  • Problems with conceiving could lead to “problem births”
  • Elderly women denied breast cancer treatment
  • Oxford’s last all-female college may soon admit men
  • Girls face ‘sharp discrimination’ in getting schooling in most developing countries
  • Genders “sense pain differently”
  • Professional women over 50% more likely to die from breast cancer than unskilled women
  • Women compete for place in first all-female ‘Formula Woman Championship’
  • New drug to combat osteoporosis
  • Actor Helen Mirren ‘happy childless’: “I didn’t have that desire to be a mother, and don’t think an awful lot of women do.”
  • High-fibre food may be used in treatment of breast cancer
  • More women directors at top British companies
  • Almost all extra university places taken by women
  • Top Italian football club considers signing female player
  • NHS planning ‘caesarean crackdown’
  • Female managers narrow pay-gap
  • “Having a child with a new partner increases likelihood of premature birth”
  • EU divorce laws could ‘could turn the clock back for women’s rights by 30 years’
  • Nine years for sex assault GP
  • Labour party members picket women-only shortlist
  • Ecstasy may be used to help women who suffer rape: feeling of emotional closeness may help them talk to therapists
  • Islamic marriages “leave women legally unprotected”
  • Giving birth by caesarean section “increases risk of future stillbirths”
  • Women ‘miss out on transplants’
  • CoE curate wins abortion challenge: investigation to be held into late abortion of foetus with cleft palate
  • UK rapper Estelle staging backlash against lap dance culture of hip-hop videos
  • Women’s pay edges closer to men’s
  • Call for law change over abandoned babies: mothers should not be prosecuted
  • Abortion should be made easier, say Family Planning Association
  • Woman whose pregnancy was wrongly terminated goes to European Court: outcome could affect UK abortion laws and even morning-after pill
  • Probe into breast reconstruction op waits