Viewpoint

The anti-women awards of 2008

Once more we prepare to honor our foremothers by celebrating the anniversary of the passage of women's suffrage. Each year, in advance of Aug. 26, our one-woman committee gathers to hand out the Equal Rites Awards to those stalwarts who have done the most in the past year to set back the cause of women.

What to say of the last 12 months? This is the year girls finally caught up with boys in math achievement. And the year women finally achieved equality with men in job losses. This year we had the first serious female contender for the White House, and all she'll end up with at the convention is a roll-call vote.

But enough of all that. The envelopes, please.

We begin with the highly competitive Blind Justice Award. This usually goes to some worthy American, but a Russian judge swept ahead of the pack when he ruled against a woman's charge of sexual harassment. “If we had no sexual harassment,” he said, “we would have no children.” We send this judge the blindfold to use as a gag.

Can he lend it to a French colleague? In Lille, a judge granted an annulment to a Muslim groom because his bride was not a virgin, “single and chaste.” For this, he wins the Taliban Wannabe Prix, with a side order of freedom fries and our hope that he won't permit stoning on the Champs-Elysees.

Back on this side of the Atlantic, the Fashion Victim Award goes to Wrangler Jeans for ads that display women as half-dressed corpses. Ah, yes, dead is the new black! Our prize is a sword thrust through their profit margin.

The Backlash Award goes to Washington University, which actually gave an honorary degree to Phyllis Schlafly for leading the charge against women's rights. What's next, honoraries for segregationists?

As for a kinder, gentler backlash, let us dance into the arms of the Patriarchs of the Year, the leaders of the deeply creepy father-daughter Purity Balls who ask: “Are you ready to war for your daughters' purity?”

Their prize is a meet-up with Abdel-Qader Ali, the Iraqi father who did indeed fight for his daughter's purity. The winner of the Ayatollah of the Year Prize beat his daughter to death for being infatuated with a British soldier – and was released two hours later by the Basra police because, said Daddy Dearist, “they are men and know what honor is.”

Alas, we hoped to retire the Tammy Wynette Stand by Your Man Award. But there was Silda standing by New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer while his taste in prostitutes was revealed.

And what to say about the admired Elizabeth Edwards? She didn't do the perp's wife's walk, but didn't she enable John to think he could still be president? We send these wives our disappointment.

Or the football field. Our Superstars of Sexism Prize goes to those Jets fans – you know who you are – who spend halftime lined up, whistling and demanding that women display their breasts. For this brain malfunction you get a chauvinist pig-skin.

And another throwback. Our Desperate (To Get) Housewives Award goes to those two sensitive guys in New Hampshire who released their inner jerk by yelling at Hillary to “Iron my shirt!”

With Hillary-misogyny all around, we picked our winners of the Media Ms.-Adventure Award from opposite ends of the radio dial. The right-wing Rush Limbaugh insisted that Americans wouldn't want to watch a woman aging in the White House. The left-wing Randi Rhodes called the senator a “big f---ing w---e.”

Their prize is spending the rest of the election locked together in one studio.

Finally, dishonorable mention to all those with bumper stickers reading “Life's a B--ch, Don't Elect One.” We cover them with a sticker bearing the final words of Susan B. Anthony: “Failure Is Impossible.”

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