Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has spoken for the first time about her painful experience of suffering a miscarriage in 2011, when she was 40.

Why did she feel she should reveal such an intensely personal event? Well, she said she hoped by doing so she might challenge assumptions about women. In particular, about women without children.

“Sometimes having a baby just doesn’t happen – no matter how much we want it to,” she said. “Some of us simply don’t want to, some of us worry about the impact on our career – when there is still so much to do. The point is that judgements and assumptions shouldn’t be made about what are personal choices and experiences.”

They are though. Had that not been the case, perhaps Ms Sturgeon wouldn’t have felt the need to explain her status as a “childless politician”.

Remarkable isn’t it? A woman without children is still referred to as a childless woman, while a man without children is… a man.

Anne Pickles No point in making an outraged song and dance about it. That’s just the way it is. No anger borne of frustration will change it. But that doesn’t make the unhappy circumstance any better.

Her explanation, revelation – you might even call it something bordering on apology – sparked media listings of other childless politicians at the weekend. Will they also now be challenged to explain away “failure” to produce babies?

Women have been pressed to explain themselves in all kinds of ways lately. Ways that few men ever need to deal with. Nicola Surgeon even went to so far as to thank the female journalist, who had known about the lost baby, for agreeing to keep her secret. Which makes you wonder about a woman’s right to a life of her own.

Actress Renee Zellweger, making public appearances to promote her new film Bridget Jones’s Baby , is being pressed to detail – mainly by other women – what has happened to her face over the last 10 to 15 years. The speculated inference being that she’s had cosmetic surgery – probably more than once. As if that would be anyone’s business but her own.

Ah but it is. It is because, as a woman in the public eye, she is expected to conform naturally to the myth of eternal youth and beauty. If her appearance has altered, she must have resorted to trickery… and we have a right to know.

Sadly, women are often crueller about their own sex than are men. That has possibly always been true and it would appear we can have no faith in anything much changing, now or in the future.

The most nastily critical scrutineers of the actress’s face – in social and tabloid media – have been women. You’d think they’d know better.

And don’t forget it was Andrea Leadsom, now Environment Secretary in charge of cleaning up face creams, who kicked off the childless woman curse when, during the Tory leadership campaign, she declared herself superior to Theresa May by virtue of being a mother – unlike the PM.

She later withdrew, of course, bleating that the backlash against her comments had left her hurt and shattered. Perhaps there is some justice, after all.

But there’s precious little of it to be had if any woman – be she politician, actress, CEO, nurse or cleaning lady – believes it necessary to explain why she never gave birth or how she chose to grow into her face.

Watch your backs, girls. There’s a chance one of your own might just be standing behind you – sharpening her claws.