Editor's Note: Ellen Goodman retired from writing her column last year, but couldn't resist returning for her annual Equal Rites honors.
And so once more, we celebrated the anniversary of women's suffrage last Friday. It's been 91 years since our foremothers won the right to vote. What would those courageous women say about a year in which the political spotlight on women ranged from Sarah Palin promoting Mama Grizzlies to Michele Bachmann serving tea? Or at least the tea party.
The one glimmer of progress in the food-fight halls of Congress is that women got four more seats. But those seats were in the brand new Congressional Ladies Room. Nine decades and all we get is potty parity? You go girl!
Despite all this, our one-woman panel prepares in good spirit to hand out the Equal Rites Awards to all those who did their best to do the worst for women in the past year. The envelopes please.
Let us begin with that crowd pleaser, the Raging Hormonal Imbalance Award. This year it goes to the advertisers pushing milk as a cure for PMS. They pitched their product to men allegedly suffering— ho, ho, ho—from the side effects of premenstrual women run amok. For this failed campaign, we award them a monthly dose of lactose intolerance.
The Patriarch of This (Or Any Other) Year goes posthumously to Osama bin Laden, the man who incited so many followers to go to their just reward of 72 virgins. Osama espoused and enforced the "purity" of all women except the ones found in the stash of porn videos at his hideout. To the followers of this X-rated terrorist, we send a burqa suitable for covering hypocrisy.
Now let's go home again, but first alas, we have to pass those TSA employees at the airport who are paid to make us feel safer, or just to feel us up. The Knights (and Damsels) in Tarnished Armor Prize is won hands down (and up) by those who gave the full treatment to "Dancing With the Stars'" Cheryl Burke, former Miss USA Susie Castillo and assorted little girls taught to
"just say no." We put the TSA on red alert.
Speaking of warnings, let us remember the Testosterone Poisoning Poster Boy Prize. This goes to Arnold Schwarzenegger, the x-terminator and x-governor who belatedly admitted to fathering a son with his household employee. After becoming Maria Shriver's x-husband, he was seen biking in a classy T-shirt bearing the slogan: "I Survived Maria." We send him a replacement T-shirt: "Conan Wasn't the Only Barbarian."
No, the Post-Feminist Booby Prize does not go to 85-year-old playboy Hugh Hefner, dumped by a 25-year-old runaway bride. It goes to NBC's Chad Hodge, the producer who resurrected "The Playboy Club" for a new TV series, and then claimed that it was a show about empowering women. We send Hodge a bikini, a cottontail and a pair of bunny ears so he can feel powerful around the office.
And don't forget the harmony. The Misogyny in MusicScoresheet— so many contenders, so few prizes—goes to David Guetta for those tone-deaf lyrics: "Damn, you's a sexy b——, a sexy b——. Damn, you's a sexy b——, damn, girl." Shall we send him laryngitis?
Now for the Backwards Trailblazer Citation. This goes to Frederick County Commissioner Paul Smith, who justified slashing Head Start funds in his Maryland county because "mothers should be home with small children." We send all the de-funded children to his house for day care.
Finally, we thought we might have to retire our Stand By Your Man Prize after Anthony (look at my) Weiner's bride rejected that role. But no, presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann volunteered, saying she only studied law because would-be First Laddie Marcus told her to.
Said Michele: "The Lord said, ‘Be submissive.' Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands." The facts-orexic Michele insists that "submission" means "respect." Right, and obedience is a synonym for equality. And with that curtain call we end this year…unbowed.