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Ellen Goodman

Equal Rites Awards

From Bachmann to girl-beer, new setbacks for women

By Ellen Goodman
August 26, 2011

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AND SO once more, we gather to celebrate Aug. 26, the anniversary of women’s suffrage. 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 shifted from Sarah Palin promoting Mama

Grizzlies to Michele Bachmann serving tea. Or at least the Tea Part y.

The one glimmer of progress in 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 of judges 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. Without further ado, 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 supposedly suffering - yuk, yuk - from the side effects of premenstrual women run amok. For this failed campaign we award them a monthly dose of lactose-intolerance.

Speaking of science, both pseudo and sexist, the Male-Practice Award goes to Dr. Lazar Greenfield, once president-elect of the American College of Surgeons, for his Valentine’s Day editorial citing “research’’ that college women who had unprotected sex were less depressed than those whose partners used a condom. “Now we know there’s a better gift than chocolate,’’ he chuckled. As a resignation gift we ship him a daily portion of crow.

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. Bin Laden 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.

And while we are abroad, the Backlash Prize goes to the Egyptian general who defended “virginity checks’’ on women protesters arrested in the uprising. The goal, he insisted, was to protect soldiers from false accusations of sexual assault: “We wanted to prove they weren’t virgins in the first place.’’ For using sexual assault as a defense against sexual assault, we send him back to (Tahrir) Square One.

On our way home again, we have to pass those Transportation Security Administration 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’’’ pro Cheryl Burke, former Miss USA Susie Castillo, and assorted little girls. 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 ex-terminator and ex-governor who belatedly admitted to fathering a son with his household employee. After becoming Maria Shriver’s ex-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, who was 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 show about empowering women. We send Hodge a bikini, a cotton tail, and a pair of bunny ears so he can feel powerful around the office.

Or how about a blindfold? One of the longtime favorites, the Blind Justice Award, goes to our very own Supremes, led by Justice Antonin Scalia who ruled that the women of Wal-Mart didn’t deserve their day in court for sex discrimination. Wal-Mart wasn’t too big to fail, it was too big to sue. We award Justice Scalia an encore career as a Wal-Mart greeter.

Anybody notice how rosy the female world has become? The Pink Plague Prize for the color-coding grrrrls and boys goes to Molson Coors which is literally pinkwashing beer. It’s a girl! I mean, it’s a girl-beer! Raise your pinkie!

And don’t forget the harmony. The Misogyny in Music Scoresheet - so many contenders, so few prizes - goes to David Guetta for those tone-deaf lyrics: “Damn you, sexy bitch. Damn you, sexy bitch.’’ 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 says 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.

Ellen Goodman is a former Globe columnist.