Women and Health

As the Women’s Liberation Movement gathered momentum, a book was published by Susie Orbach, Fat Is A Feminist Issue, which exposed the connection between sexual politics and women’s concern with body image – as women were being pressured into trying to conform to perceived norms of “attractiveness” and “thinness”

LUCY BORODKIN lived in Portsmouth during the 1980s and worked as a psychotherapist specialising in eating disorders.

Lucy Borodkin

Lucy was concerned with how women were still unhappy with their bodies, despite the advances in Feminist thinking.

Lucy was directly mentored by Susie Orbach and also helped the feminist theatre group Spare Tyre premiere Baring the Weight, their inaugural drama presentation.


PAULINE SCUTT was originally from Brighton and was married at 20 after becoming pregnant. She could not work full time until her sons were old enough to go to school.

One of her jobs was just outside Puriton, working at the Royal Ordnance Factory Bridgwater – the factory that had built the DAM BUSTERS bomb for Barnes Wallis – but her working career was cut short when her third child was born with multiple genetic disorders.

She looked after her disabled child, which started her interest in politics.  A day centre was opened for those children deemed ‘not suitable’ for ordinary centres and her son had a place. A taxi used to take him there but before long her son – and a few others- were told they were – ‘too difficult’ and would be excluded. 

Pauline was enraged and went to see her local MP, but he said “it’s not my job to intervene with the Education Authorities”.

She told him “If you can’t intervene, then who can?” 

Pauline wrote to all the national papers- and THE SUN picked up the story.  She was then invited to appear on television and eventually Hampshire County Council agreed to reinstated her son.

As a result of this campaign, a small purpose- built school was erected at Sandy Point Hospital on Hayling Island and legislation to ensure No Child Is Ineducable was brought in.

Pauline managed to get back into employment and worked for a solicitor. Her husband then started his own business and she worked with him to build up a successful enterprise, so much so that she used to love dressing up and going to the races.


Despite some restrictions on access to contraception, women were taking more control of their fertility and were seeking the best methods of avoiding pregnancy, which had shifted from being inevitable to being controllable.

SUE HARPER has experienced sexual prejudice in health care, education and employment. She helped found the Portsmouth Women’s Liberation Group.

During her teenage years she realised that pregnancy at an early age would not be a good thing.

Sue Harper

Sue’s extensive experience of reproductive medicine affects her health today and she feels that the medical establishment is still irredeemably biased against women .