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We were going to pass up The Equal Rites Award ceremony this year. Normally we pay homage to our foremothers on Aug. 26 by dispensing prizes to those who have done their best in the past year to set back the progress of women.

But this year we were far too busy celebrating the 75th anniversary of suffrage with balloons, speeches, hats and horns and history. We forgot about the present.When the news spread that we would not hold the annual event, however, our one-woman awards committee was besieged with demands that we reconsider.

So our committee called an emergency all-night session, poring over the worthy contestants. Now we once again offer up our somewhat belated but heartfelt awards. The envelopes please.

This year The Battle of the Sexes Blue Ribbon goes to a man who has literally promoted this struggle. It is Don King, who orchestrated Mike Tyson's "Day of Redemption" in Harlem, thereby enshrining the rapist as role model. To Don we award a good haircut and our hopes for a sore loser.

Speaking of losers, The Deadbeat Dad Award will not go to Jeffrey Nichols, the so-called king of deadbeats who owes $500,000 in child support. His dishonorable mention pales next to David Dou-cette, who denied paternity of daughter Audrey when her mother sought child support. After the little girl's death, however, he tried to get the father's share of a $900,000 wrongful death settlement. Is there a DNA code for scum?

The Gender Gap Gavel, designed for the political candidate who's lost his way in the great divide, goes to Phil Gramm. When Sen. Gramm was asked if he'd consider a woman as running mate, he answered, "Sophia Loren is not a citizen." We will let New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman deliver this award, upside the head.

And while we are in the trenches, we must offer The Double Standard-Bearer prize to Newt Gingrich whose college history course offers up the news that women are no good at war because they "have biological problems staying in a ditch for 30 days because they get infections . . . while men are basically little piglets." We send Newt several male chauvinist piglets to keep him company.

Back home, we offer our perennial favorite, The Blind Justice Award, to Maryland Judge Robert E. Cahill, who sentenced wife-murderer Kenneth Peacock to a mere 18 months in jail. Peacock killed his wife after finding her in bed with another man. "I shudder to think what I would do," said the sympathetic judge. We shudder to think what he did and send him an eye-opener.

What shall we do for the winners of The Raging Hormonal Imbalance Prize? At a baseball game dedicated to "Strike Out Domestic Violence" in Durham, N.C., 10 ballplayers - four Warthogs and six Bulls - broke into a free-for-all slugfest. To such role models of male restraint, may we suggest a sample of estrogen.

Let us not forget those chivalrous, young "knobs" at The Citadel who reacted to Shannon Faulkner's departure with gutteral grunts of joy. What shall we give them? A Superstars of Sexism button? No, I have it: 100 women in next year's freshman class.

Ah, but boys will be boys. Or boys will be Martians or whatever. For Gender Spaciness - it's going around - we pin the ribbon on Sen. Trent Lott. The Republican majority whip, talking about right brain/left brain, male/female politics, said, "I think that we're the party of Mars, but we would like to have the Venus side of American society in our party, too." We award him the prize for gender-babble. We deeply hope that by next year, we'll all use both sides of the brain.