On the Agenda: Gender Making News


Gender Agenda

Gender Agenda

Issue 1 Lent 2003

The magazine of


Women's Union

On the Agenda: Gender Making News

Naomi Wynter-Vincent

  • Throwing the Last Stone: It is reported that the head of the
    Iranian Judiciary has ordered judges not to sentence women found guilty of
    adultery to be stoned, following pressure from women politicians in Iran
    and massive condemnation of the practice by human rights activists around
    the world. Stoning as a form of punishment will, however, remain on the
    statutes for the time being, although campaigners wish to see it entirely
    abolished. Although stoning has become relatively rare in Iran, there
    were a small number of cases in 2001, which sparked outrage across the
    world. 
  • Blowing the Whistle: Time Magazine has given its ‘person of
    the year’ award to three women: Coleen Rowley, Sherron Watkins, and
    Cynthia Cooper; all of whom blew the whistle on unethical practices within
    their workplaces in 2002, namely the FBI, Enron and WorldCom respectively.
    Although Gender Agenda worries a little about Time’s designation of three
    women simultaneously as the ‘person’ of the year, it is interesting that
    they should have taken the unusual step of saluting three relatively
    anonymous women, who commended themselves by having the courage to speak
    out against their bosses within the US business environment which prizes
    the loyalty of its employees and corporate hierarchy.
  • Pop-Out Babies: Wal-Mart, the US retail giant, has withdrawn
    stocks of Barbie’s pregnant companion doll, Midge, after conservative
    customers complained about the doll’s allegedly overly graphic depiction
    of pregnancy. The doll, which features a curled up ‘detachable’ baby
    within the doll’s tummy, was on sale as part of an integral ‘family pack’
    featuring Midge’s husband, Alan, and three-year old son. The makers of
    the doll have defended their product by pointing to its wholesome
    portrayal of married life and contented motherhood, but have failed to
    satisfy the staunchly conservative retail giant. Meanwhile, there have
    been no reported complaints against the original Barbie character, whose
    lithe bodyshape and improbably long legs would have rendered her too thin
    to menstruate if she were a real woman.
  • Men O’ Pause? Swedish researchers have found that more than
    a third of men in a recent survey had experienced symptoms reminiscent of
    the female menopause over the age of 55. Researchers believe that men may
    experience symptoms such as hot flushes, mild depression and excessive
    sweating, as a result of a protein mechanism which is similar in women,
    which occurs with reduced testosterone levels. Other scientists however
    remain very sceptical of the notion that there could be a male menopause.
  • Women forge ahead at Cambridge: The University accepted more
    women than men for the first time on to undergraduate courses starting in
    2003. Women will make up 50.3% of the total undergraduate intake in
    October, although this figure still falls short of the percentage that
    might be expected on the basis of results at A-level, in which women
    outperform boys by some 2.6% in getting A grades at A-level. Oxford by
    comparison still takes marginally more men than women. Additionally, it
    seemed that women were more likely to be given a place if they had come
    from state schools rather than from an independent school. Janet Graham,
    head of Admissions, said this might be further evidence of women’s better
    academic performance in general as it suggests that women were still
    likely to achieve even without the additional material support of a
    private school education.
  • Rape Laws: Scottish law was brought into line with the UK in
    November by disallowing rape defendants from conducting their own defence
    in court (and so ruling out the possibility that rape victims could be
    cross-examined in court by their attackers). Scotland has also gone
    further than the UK in its reforms by allowing the prosecution to draw
    attention to a defendant’s previous convictions if the defence choose to
    bring up personal information about the plaintiff.
  • Throw-Away Babies: Women’s rights activists in Tamil Nadu,
    southern India, have reported an increase in the number of female babies
    abandoned shortly after birth. Although not uncommon elsewhere in more
    rural parts of India, the incidence of abandoned babies is also rising
    within urban centres such as Madras.

 


 

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