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U.S. News Archive
April 14 - April 20, 2001



This page contains news for the period April 14, 2001 through April 20, 2001.  

<< April 2001  >>

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 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 counseling bill

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 marriage license.

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 in Missouri.

"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 Statistics Tuesday.

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 unmarried women.

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 record low.

``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 been transmitted.''

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.



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