Singling out those who set us back

August 29, 2005|By Ellen Goodman

BOSTON - And now let us pause to celebrate Aug. 26, the anniversary of women's suffrage. It's been 85 years since Harry Burn, a young Tennessee legislator, followed the advice of his mom and cast the deciding vote ratifying the 19th Amendment.

Since 1920, we've not only had decades of progress, we've had generations of adversaries trying to force women's rights out the window. In this spirit, our one-woman committee met again this year to dispense prizes to those who labored mightily throughout the past year to set back the cause of women. Without further ado, we present the Equal Rites Awards:

The International Ayatollah Prize goes to the Islamic clerics in northwest India who ruled that a woman raped by her father-in-law not only had to leave her husband but had to marry his rapist father. To those pro-family clerics we issue a fatwa: Don't Just Blame the Victim, Marry Her.

The Double Standard Bearer Prize goes to our allies, the Saudis, who still refuse to give women the keys to the kingdom. The latest petition opposing women drivers explained that "women are less decisive than men and less capable of dealing with difficult situations." To the oil-rich and common-sense-deprived Saudis, we send Indy Racing League sensation Danica Patrick to chauffeur them to the 21st century.

Tom Cruise wins the Raging Hormonal Imbalance Award for trashing Brooke Shields because she took medication for postpartum depression. We send him our home-brewed antidote for testosterone poisoning.

Sen. Rick Santorum worked so hard this year to grasp the much-coveted Backlash Award. First he blamed the problems of families on "radical feminists," and then he opposed "artificial birth control" as harmful to women and encouraging sex out of marriage. We send Rick to remedial sex-ed class to learn that you don't have to be single or female to use birth control.

Give Clear Channel Communications the Post-Feminist Booby Prize for its quartet of radio stations that promoted the "Breast Christmas Ever," giving away breast implants to winners. We put a lump of coal in their FCC stocking.

Our Media Mis-Adventuress Award goes to nude newsbabe Sharon Reed, a Cleveland reporter who stripped while reporting on a nude photo exhibit. Dear Sharon, this is not what your journalism school professors meant by an undercover story.

Harvard prez Lawrence Summers was all set to win the Battle of the Sexes Prize for the brouhaha created by his offhand and off-the-wall remarks that women might have less "intrinsic aptitude" for science. But what do we give to the Harvard Corp. that saw fit to give him a raise instead of a rap? A grant to study the intrinsic aptitude for male bonding?

The Blind Justice Award goes to Judge Paul Bastine of Spokane, Wash. He refused to give Shawnna Hughes a divorce because she was pregnant and he didn't want her baby born illegitimate. Never mind that husband Carlos was in jail for domestic violence.

We award Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. the Let's Hope He Grew Out of It Prize. As a teenager, he editorialized against admitting women to his parochial school because he didn't want to study Shakespeare's racy passages with "a blonde giggling and blushing behind me." Ruth Bader Ginsburg, beware!

Our Knight in Shining Armor Prize goes to President Bush for so many reasons, but especially this one. He didn't follow his wife's advice to nominate a woman to the Supreme Court, but he did let her appoint the first woman chef to rule the White House kitchen. Who said there wasn't progress?

Ellen Goodman is a columnist for The Boston Globe. Her column appears Mondays in The Sun.

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