Real Winners, 1991 Style


August 27, 1991|By ELLEN GOODMAN

Boston -- Every year at this time, in homage to my illustrious foremothers, I celebrate Aug. 26, the anniversary of the passage of women's suffrage, by recognizing those who have tried hardest in the past 12 months to set back the progress of women. For the Equal Rites Awards, our one-woman jury always labors long and hard, sifting through the intense competition.

This year, the entry box was full of unusually mixed messages. This was after all, the year Yale's secret society, Skull and Bones, finally admitted women. But the society's chief member, George Bush, still belongs to three clubs with a female quota: zero. In the past 12 months, there was a long overdue recognition of date rape. But there was also a premature naming of victims.

However, these awards were created as reminders of how far we have to go. So, without further ado, the envelopes please.

The Superstar for Sexism in Sports will not go as predicted to Patriots owner Victor Kiam although his football cleats have been permanently in his mouth since the Lisa Olson affair. It will go rather to those Boston fans who brought anatomically correct inflatable female dolls to Fenway Park where they performed politically incorrect acts with them. To these guys and their dolls we send a scorecard marked ''Losers.''

On the subject of, uh, sports, The Double-Standard Bearer Prize goes to Florida Judge Paul M. Marko, III, the judicial umpire of a divorce case who ruled that ex-wife Marianne Price -- whom he repeatedly described as a '' bimbo'' -- couldn't have a man live in her house, though her ex-husband could have ''the entire Dolphins cheerleading squad running through his apartment naked.'' His banner will be delivered by a fully clothed messenger.

The Raging Hormonal Imbalance Award, a prize always bound to upset your equilibrium, goes to the Salem Hospital in Oregon for an ad about menopause. To Wit: ''One day mild-mannered Mrs. Shenkman started acting strange. She snapped at her kids when they asked to go to the library, cried when her husband offered to make dinner and ignored her favorite cat Jackson when he rubbed against her leg.'' Her problem? ''Mrs. Shenkman is going through the change of life.'' We send west a pit bull terrier named, what else, Mrs. Shenkman.

Honorable mention in this category however goes to orthopedic surgeon Geraldine Richter, who claimed in Virginia court that Premenstrual Syndrome, not booze, made her try to kick a cop in the groin when he arrested her for reckless driving. We give this doctor(!) no prize, since she actually won her case.

While we are in court, the Blind Justice Award -- so many judges, so little time -- goes to Alabama U.S. District Judge E. B. Haltom, who dismissed a sexual harassment suit because ''at the time of the alleged sexual advance,'' the woman ''wore little or no makeup and her hair was not colored in any way.'' To him we send a certificate for a beauty seminar led by Thelma and Louise.

Speaking of appearances, the Ms-guided Management award goes to Continental Airlines which fired Terri Fischette because she didn't wear makeup on the job. Continental ended up embarassed (a natural blush) and mended its way. We send them a mirror to hold up to other employers who still have egg on their faces.

As for the worldly competition, our International Backlash Prize returns to the Middle East once again, where a Kuwaiti cabinet minister showed these signs of enlightenment. The war, he said on ''60 Minutes,'' ''has made us know that what we used to do was wrong.'' For example? ''I had four maids. . . . Why should you have four maids in the house? Why doesn't your wife do some of the work?'' The backlash we send him looks strangely like a man's mop.

The Dubious Equality Award has usually gone to the woman who has labored the hardest for the most questionable right. This year, it goes to those doctors who discovered a way for women to experience post-menopausal pregnancy. To them we send a biological clock ticking suspiciously.

As for the Battle of the Sexes Prize, the winners this year are those old allies and enemies the French and the Brits. France's new prime minister, Edith Cresson, attacked Anglo-Saxon men for not ogling women. And the British Parliament counterattacked: ''This House does not fancy elderly Frenchwomen.'' We send them a free ticket to the chunnel of love.

On the subject of moms and dads, our Pop Goes the Patriarch Prize belongs to New York's Cardinal John O'Connor who used his Father's Day sermon to insist that God is a Father and a He, not a HeShe, or certainly not a Parent. There is no mean-spirited plaque going his way, because of course, She is all-forgiving.

Ellen Goodman is a syndicated columnist.

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