By Ellen Goodman
Every year at this time, we prepare to celebrate Aug. 26, the anniversary of women’s suffrage, in our own quirky way. We cheerfully distribute the Equal Rites Awards to those who have done their best over the last 12 months to set back the cause of women.
So what do we make of this year? On the one hand, a wise Latina ascended to the Supreme Court. On the other hand, a pit bull with lipstick descended from the Alaskan governorship.
As for new male escorts, this was the year of Mark “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” Sanford, babydaddy-turned-celeb Levi Johnston, and—let us not forget—a host of vampire hunks pursuing women across the mediascape.
But enough of that. The envelopes, please.
We begin by delivering the Raging Hormonal Imbalance Award to the Masters of the Universe who nearly brought down the economy. The cause? Testosterone poisoning! Neuroscientist John Coates’ research shows that the higher the testosterone level among financial wizards, the greater the risk-taking urge until “at some point they start doing stupid things.” We prescribe an antidote and a lot more women on Wall Street.
Speaking of imbalance. The Taliban Look-Alike Prize goes, with deep regret, to the Afghan Cabinet. Remember the uproar over a proposed rule that Shiite women be required to “fulfill the sexual desires” of their husbands? When that died down, the Cabinet secretly approved a law saying that a man didn’t have to support his wife unless he “has access to her.” We would send them a backlash but they already own one.
Meanwhile in France, President Nicolas Sarkozy said Muslim face coverings were unwelcome because they were “a problem of freedom and of the dignity of women.” Uncovering is, apparently, not a problem of dignity since Sarkozy’s own trophy wife, Carla Bruni, posed in the nude. For this cultural myopathy we award him the Double Standard Bearer badge decorated with a first lady glossy.
Speaking of fashion statements. Are there designer clothes you wouldn’t be caught dead in? Barneys wins the Fashion Victimizers’ Citation for the store’s display of battered and bloody mannequins posing as upscale assault victims. Ah yes, blood is the new black, and violence is soooo chic. ...
Just ask Eminem. Misogyny in Music? Eminem has come back to win the prize for his new album, “Relapse.” He and his alter egos are off and rampaging: “See whore, you’re the kinda girl that I’d assault and rape.” That’s just a sample. We send this relapsed rapper to mandatory rehab.
Which brings us to G. Gordon Liddy, talkmeister and winner of the Media MsCommunication Award for dissing Sonia Sotomayor. “Let’s hope that the key conferences aren’t when she’s menstruating or something, or just before she’s going to menstruate.” Here’s a hot flash, Liddy, Sotomayor is 55. We award him the male chauvinist swine flu.
Now from high court to center court—maybe. The Superstar of Sexism trophy goes to the Wimbledon tennis officials who put top-rated beauties in the coveted center court instead of the top-seeded players. “Good looks are a factor,” one admitted, and we reward him with an overhead smash delivered by winner Serena Williams. Babe, set, match.
What would an awards dinner be without Rush? Limbaugh wins the New Sensitive Man award, an embroidered hanky, for whining about his low ratings among feminazis, excuse me, women. “Start telling me what it is I must do to close the gender gap,” he whimpered. We have the answer: retire.
The Backlash or perhaps Backscalpel Award goes to those Hungarians who have introduced a beauty pageant with only one requirement. All the contestants for Miss Plastic Hungary must have face-lifts, breast implants or other body work. Our requirement for the pageant founders? Root canal.
Speaking of body work, we go to Germany for the Post-Feminist Booby Prize. Vera Lengsfeld is not running for the Bundestag on Angela Merkel’s coattails; she’s running on the chancellor’s cleavage. Lengsfeld’s campaign poster of both women in low-cut dresses boasts: “We have more to offer.” We offer Vera a counter slogan: It’s the economy, you boob.
Many political wives vied for the Tammy Wynette Prize for standing by their wandering man. But the hands-down winner is the common-law wife of convicted child sex abuser and evangelist Tony Alamo. Sharon Alamo swore in court that she didn’t notice how young his girl-brides were, thought their wedding bands were gifts to the ministry, and let Alamo call her a “weasel, a rotten bastard and a liar” to help him get his anger out. His anger may be out but his body is in ... jail. That’s our gift to Sharon.
But let us not fail to appreciate those Fairfax County, Va., school officials who protect our daughters ... from protection. The Zero Tolerance Award goes to the officials who suspended an honor student for two weeks for bringing drugs to school: her birth control pills. She would have gotten a lesser punishment of five days for heroin. Or maybe pregnancy?
Finally, we admire the Swedish passion for gender equity. But the Dubious Equality Award must go this year to the young Swedish couple who refuses to tell the world—or their 2-year-old—whether he/she is a girl/boy. “It’s cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead,” said the mom. We send them a snuggly and a pronoun to get them through the next year. Onward!
Ellen Goodman’s e-mail address is ellengoodman1(at)me.com.
© 2009, Washington Post Writers Group