Each year at this time, the shade of Susan B. Anthony hovers around my desk, reminding me that Aug. 26 is the anniversary of the passage of woman's suffrage. I am tempted to celebrate this day in the manner of my foremothers by chaining myself to the White House fence until Ronald Reagan becomes a feminist. Things being what they are, I better not.
Instead, I will once again spend this holiday in my own kinky fashion bestowing Equal Rites Awards on those who have struggled the hardest these past 12 months against peace, justice and equality between the sexes.
But enough of these explanations. The annual ERA awards are ready to be announced. The envelopes, please.
Once again, protocol demands that the first prize go to the president of United States, who has tried so hard to reassure us in recent months that some of his best friends are women. To the Great Communicator goes the Me Tarzan, You Jane Trophy for his careful choice of words when he told a group of female business leaders: "If it wasn't for women, us men would still be walking around in skin suits and carrying clubs." This prize is a microphone in the shape of a club suitable for raising welts of consciousness.
The Gender Gap Award is dedicated to all those Republicans who have done their best to widen it. There are many contenders, but in the end the prize was awarded to New York State's Republican county chairmen. These Republicans, who were upset about the results of the 1982 election, decided to hold a meeting in Albany to discuss their problems, including problems with women voters. Where did they meet? At the Fort Orange Club--the club that doesn't accept women as members. Their prize is a ballot box--empty.
The G-String Award (G for Gross) goes to American Multiple Industries of California for bringing X-ratings to the video game world. The fun little game they marketed last fall was called Custer's Revenge. It featured an all- American hero, dressed only in bandanna and boots, trying to cross a stream in order to rape a naked Indian woman tied to a tree. "It was intended strictly as a joke," said a company spokesman. He will soon be wearing the prize, which has been hand-strung out of arrowheads.
The Blind Justice Award, always hotly contested among the judiciary, goes this year by popular consent to Judge Alvin Lichtenstein of Colorado. This justice sentenced a wife killer to a term of two years that would be served nights only. The judge said he was giving a light sentence to the man who shot his wife five times in the face because the wife had provoked him. She had left her abusive husband without even writing him a note. Tsk, tsk. For his hizzoner, the prize is a life sentence of nighttime-only judging.
The Red Badge of Courage goes to those fearless male citziens of Honolulu who offered their services to the local police department as part of a crackdown on prostitution. These men were given money by the police and instructed to go "as far as necessary" to catch their woman. After performing intercourse for the public good, one alerted the police, who arrested the prostitute and handed the public-interest john back his money. To these men we send the badge in appreciation for a nasty job well done. We will all sleep more soundly knowing they're on the case.
The Quality Circle Pin for leading women into the brave new world of international commerce goes to the Japanese bank in Los Angeles where secretaries learned to kneel while serving tea to managers and customers. This pin is to be used to explode illusions about the advanced Japanese culture.
The Old Boys Will Be Old Boys Prize goes to the director of New York's exclusive Century Club. This club does not accept women members, but happily harbors male members even if they've been convicted of trying to kill their wives. The club director refused the resignation of member Claus von Bulow and explained, "We are nicer than most private clubs."
The Ms.-Anthropic Media Award this year is divided in two parts: print and video. The first prize--a pin on which to impale himself--is being sent to the Time magazine reporter who asked astronaut Sally Ride if she cries under pressure. The other prize goes to the researcher for the Kansas City TV station where Chris Craft was anchoring the news. In his audience research he asked viewers, "Is she a mutt?" and then urged, "Let's spend 30 seconds destroying Chris Craft." To this scientific researcher, we award a fully matched and calendar-coded wardrobe of hair shirts.
Finally, the Post-Feminist Follies Award, a shapely Oscarette carrying poisonous darts, goes to the creators of "Flashdance" for their fantasy figure of Jennifer Beals. At last, a woman who welds by day and dances by night and never gets tired. Step aside, Superwoman!