News roundup for February/March 2004

Housework holding women back

BBC Report

Researchers have revealed that women are still doing almost three times as much housework as men, putting in 17 hours a week compared to men’s 6 hours. The team, from the University of Ulster, fear that women will never achieve equality in the workplace until men take on their fair share in the home.

Despite both genders agreeing that men should help out more, the researchers found that traditional gender roles were very slow to change, with conservative attitudes still reigning supreme in Northern Ireland.

Female heavy drinkers risk heart disease

BBC Report

A study by University College London has shown that women who drink more than the recommended 21 units a week increase their risk of heart disease by 57% (while of course, men who drink are perfectly fine, right?). The advice to women gets confusing after that point, though. Women who are teetotal have an 80% increased risk of heart disease compared to those who drink moderately, but are not advised to now take up the habit, due to other risk factors. Lead researcher Dr Annie Britton kept it simple: “The best advice is not to drink more than the government’s guidelines of around 21 units.”

No link between abortion and breast cancer

BBC Report

Swedish researchers have found no link between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer. Anti-abortion groups have frequently used this claim in their campaigns, but in fact the Swedish team found that women who had terminated a pregnancy had a reduced risk of getting the disease.

Jack Scarisbrook of anti-abortion group Life condemned the findings, saying in typically understated form: “If a woman has an abortion before they have a baby and they have a family history of breast cancer, they are virtually signing their own death warrant.” Christine Fogg of Breast Cancer Care was more reassuring, however, saying that current research has failed to link abortions to breast cancer, and that “scare stories” to the contrary only made women more anxious.

‘Natural’ breast implants on the way

BBC Report

Japanese doctors may have found a way to combine a woman’s fat and stem cells to create a ‘natural’ breast implant. Previous attempts just using fat have failed as some cells die, forming hard lumps. Adding stem cells could coax the growth of new blood vessels. The method could prove a viable alternative to ‘artificial’ implants. Time to re-read “The Beauty Myth,” perhaps?

Morning after pill ‘in advance’

BBC Report

The Family Planning Association has said women should be able to get the morning after pill before having unprotected sex or experiencing a failure in contraception. The FPA say this “access through the bathroom cabinet” would mean women would be more likely to use it, would not have to spend time finding a doctor or clinic, and certainly would not have more unprotected sex. As we all know, the quicker women can take the pill, the more effective it is. Unsurpringly, the “Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child” weren’t happy about the proposal, saying: “The trouble is that the morning after pill doesn’t always prevent a pregnancy – quite often it terminates it. This is just another reason for us to say the prescribing of it, and the availability of it, just has to stop.”

Women criticise rivals to ‘win a mate’

BBC Report

Guess what? Women are programmed to be critical of rivals when looking for a man, according to Canadian researchers. They discovered that women are most prone to ‘cattiness’ of the “her hair’s such a state” ilk when they are at the most fertile. The aim is to attack rivals to boost their own chances of getting a mate, and this extra-critical time may last for up to 10 days each month, claim researchers. So, let me get this straight; we’re bitchy when we’re fertile and we’re bitchy during our periods? Well, at least we now have a valid reason to get annoyed when someone asks if it’s “that time of the month”…

Why would we should all be more like


BBC Report

Girls need more positive female role models, according to the head of Ofsted. David Bell warns that although girls do better in exams, this success “is all too often not mirrored later in life”. Characters like Buffy, he said, promote a more assertive and dynamic image of young women and can have a powerful influence on girls. So let’s all blow up our schools, drop out of uni and destroy our hometowns, ok?

Crying Wolf?

New York Metro

Guardian report

“She was a Yale senior. He was the superstar professor she’d hoped to impress – until he put his hand on her thigh. Two decades later, she’s speaking out. But her alma mater still isn’t listening.” Was Naomi Wolf right to accuse Harold Bloom of sexual assault 20 years after the event? The debate continues…

‘Girls’ or women?

BBC Report

David Bell, Ofstead head again (cool guy ain’t he?) – this time criticising the use of the word ‘girls’ as a playground insult. He said he believes it’s partly to blame for why female students don’t go on to succeed in the workplace. Author Bonnie Greer finds the UK habit of calling grown women ‘girls’ strange, while Ann Widdecombe calls efforts to stamp out its use just ‘political correctness’.

More news stories from this month in brief…

  • Women outspending men on internet
  • Women’s football drive kicks off
  • Footballers’ wives ‘forced out’ female coach
  • Internet site selling human eggs to infertile women launched in UK
  • One in three women in A&E suffer domestic violence
  • Viagra ‘not effective on women’
  • Female circumcision act in force
  • New fertility clinic for single women and lesbians
  • Female executives ‘more likely to reach for alcohol than men’
  • Single women encouraged to adopt
  • Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart slates modern films for “extremely irresponsible” scenes of violence directed towards women
  • Volvo launches car designed by women, for women
  • Single women outnumbered by men
  • 60% of women consider breast ops
  • Last ever Sex and The City
  • Blue plaque to honour suffragette Lady Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence
  • Woman fails to lift working men’s club ban
  • Buckingham Palace hosts its first all-female gathering
  • Female drug addicts ‘should be paid to not have children’ says Professor Neil McKeganey from Centre for Drug Misuse Research
  • 40% of pregnancies unplanned
  • Royal Opera House sacks soprano for being overweight
  • Statue of a disabled, pregnant woman (Alison Lapper) commissioned for Trafalgar Square plinth
  • Marge Simpson leads top mum poll
  • Soccer chief’s plan to promote women’s football? Hotpants.
  • Women outdo men in degree results
  • Women police staff win equal pay
  • Surgeon sex attack claims dismissed
  • Review urged into criminal ‘cot death’ cases
  • Water births ease slow labours
  • Flintshire woman volunteers to take Rohypnol and alcohol to show the effects of drink spiking for internet based support group
  • Implants hamper breast scans
  • Dutch abandon free contraception for all
  • Female offenders in Glasgow offered alternative to prison
  • AIDS drive failing women
  • Confusion over link between HRT and breast cancer
  • Women worse affected by chronic cough
  • America in uproar as Janet Jackson ‘exposes her breast’ at the Superbowl, while Justin Timberlake, who ripped off her top during a dance routine excapes criticism
  • Age Concern campaigning to make pensions fairer for women
  • Italian Doctor suggests ‘symbolic’ operation as alternative to female mutilation
  • France vote to ban headscarf in schools