Vatican spin on women's rights
Praise the Lord and pass the the detergent, Sisters!
If we're lying around eating chocolates while watching episodes of Oprah we PVRed during our hard day in the corner office, we owe it all to the invention of the washing machine -- or so say those brilliant, lady-loving men in skirts at the Vatican.
In a long editorial marking International Women's Day, L'Osservatore Romano, the mouthpiece of the Roman Catholic Church, said washing machines had freed generations of women from the drudgery of housework.
"The washing machine and the emancipation of women: put in the powder, close the lid and relax," said the broadsheet's headline, above a black and white picture of two women in the 1950s admiring a front-loading machine.
"In the 20th century, what contributed most to the emancipation of western women?" asked the editorial.
"The debate is still open. Some say it was the pill, others the liberalisation of abortion, or being able to work outside the home. Others go even further: the washing machine." The first rudimentary washing machines appeared as far back as 1767, noted the article, with the first electrical models being produced at the beginning of the 20th century.
The eulogy to a domestic convenience which most women in developed countries now take for granted quoted the words of the late American feminist, Betty Friedan, who in 1963 described "the sublime mystique to being able to change the bed sheets twice a week instead of once".
"The washing machine and the emancipation of women: put in the powder, close the lid and relax," said the headline on the article in Osservatore Romano yesterday.
The Catholic Church was never likely to laud the pill for its transformative power on women’s lives. Since Pope Benedict became the leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics, he has published a religious document condemning contraception for “negating the intimate truth of conjugal love, with which the divine gift [of life] is communicated” and has urged pharmacists to refuse to dispense the morning-after pill. The Osservatore Romano held the pill responsible for polluting the environment and contributing to male infertility.