| Wednesday, April 18, 2001
Entertainment and publishing industry courts
attention of single women
A story published by the San Francisco Chronicle reports that from Helen Gurley Brown's
"Sex and the Single Girl" in the mid-'60s to HBO's show "Sex and the
City", the world has devoured tales of unmarried women like exotic fruit.
The intrigue continues with the new Miramax film, "Bridget Jones's Diary", based
on the most popular of the recent single-gal books. The comic character of Bridget is the
brainchild of Helen Fielding, who started the "Diary" as a newspaper column in
the London Independent.
The latest tidal wave of books also runs the range from fact and fiction, including
Meghan Daum's memoir, "My Misspent Youth";"Unzipped,"Courtney Weaver's
candid soiree into the sex lives of four San Francisco women, first published as a serial
on Salon.com; and Melissa Banks' novel, "The Girls' Guide to Hunting and
Fishing," which also will be made into a film soon.
"Entertainment about single women is always going to be popular with women. We like
hearing about others because then we don't feel like we're the only ones feeling crazy and
confused.", said Laura Zigman's author of "Animal Husbandry" which 20th
Century Fox picked up and retitled in big screen as "Someone Like You."
Weaver adds, "I think there are more books and movies and shows about single women
because there are so many more of us out there."
A new census reports that there are currently 43 million single women in the United
States. Roughly 40 percent of all American women are not married. That's compared with 30
percent in 1960. This translates to a lot of women staying single longer, making a life
independent of men, having increased earning power and being avid consumers.
No wonder a recent study by the advertising firm Young & Rubicam cited adult single
females as the target group at which retailers aim their advertising arrows.
"It's a grass-is-greener kind of thing," Zigman says. "I think there has
always been curiosity about the single-woman lifestyle, because it's a big unknown."
Recent portrayals, however, drew fire from feminists who take umbrage at the too-flawed
anti-heroines who routinely sacrifice dignity in the pursuit of men.
"I had a hard time with that debate," Zigman says. "They really came at me
and said - what does this mean? But I think it's natural to have those dueling desires: to
be independent and to be in a
Anyway, I think more women identify with a Bridget Jones than a superwoman."
Tuesday, April 17, 2001
Illinois lawmaker proposes premarital
A story published today in The Maneater, a campus publication at the University of
Missouri reports that the Illinois Senate passed a bill on April 5 requiring applicants
for marriage licenses to first attend four hours of marriage counseling. If the couple
does not attend, the bill states they would have to wait 60 days before receiving a
Illinois state Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, sponsored the bill.
Toby Trimmer, a spokesman for Cullerton, said he was optimistic that the bill would pass
in the Illinois House and could significantly benefit families.
"The goal here is to reduce the divorce rate," Trimmer said.
He said the high divorce rate, around 47 percent in Illinois, also affects children and
can lead to additional problems like declining academic performance.
Trimmer said people who participated in the voluntary Prevention and Relationship
Enhancement Program, had a 32 percent less chance of getting a divorce than people who
didn't undergo counseling.
Missouri Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, said he doubts any similar bill would be enacted
"We've had similar legislation proposed," Graham said. "That didn't really
go anywhere. You'll tend to find a more conservative strand in the state."
"I don't think four hours of counseling is a cure-all to all of the problems
you'll find in marriage," he said.
Counseling before marriage can significantly help couples because most problems are minor
communication issues, said Greg Boyt, coordinator of the DRD Columbia Medical Clinic.
However, Boyt said he was unsure if the law would play a role in curbing the rising
divorce rate because people might not take the counseling seriously.
"I think there's going to be a percentage of the population that will perceive it as
being forced into counseling," he said.
If the Illinois House approves the bill, it would be up to Republican Gov. George Ryan to
decide whether to sign the bill into law.
"We have a lot a bipartisan support," Trimmer said. "I think it's
going to provide us with some good opportunities."
Unwed births remain constant while
teen birth rates drop
A story released today by the Associated Press reports that one-third of all births in the
nation are attributed to unmarried women. Teen births on the other have dropped to a
record low. The story is based on a report released by the National Center for Health
The study reports that birth rates for unmarried women increased slightly to 44.4 births
per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15-44. One out of every three births in the U.S. was to an
The birth rate for mothers 15 to 19 declined 3 percent to 49.6 births per 1,000 women in
1999 from the previous year. This rate has fallen 20 percent since 1991 and is now at a
``Teen sexual activity has leveled off compared to the increases we saw in the previous
couple of decades,'' commented demographer Stephanie Ventura.
``Also, teens who are sexually active are more likely to be using contraception,''
she said. ``Every state has a teen pregnancy prevention program. ... The message has
The 1999 rate broke a record of 50.2 births per 1,000 teen-age women set in 1986. The
records go back to 1940.
The new report, ``Births: Final Data for 1999,'' also found:
-- Birth rates for women in their thirties increased 2 to 3 percent between
1998 and 1999, and are at their highest level in more than three decades. The birth
rate for women aged 40-44 also increased in 1999.
-- The median age for first-time mothers increased to 24.5 years, continuing a slow
but steady rise since 1972.
-- Total births in the U.S. increased to 3,959,417 in 1999, up less than 1
percent from 1998.