geography is destiny

We've talked about the role of luck in our lives, how any success is down to some combination of luck and effort, with the balance shifting in either direction, depending on the circumstances.

Although I credit my own hard work and determination (with some luck thrown in), for many good things in my life, in the large picture, I feel my entire life is down to sheer random chance.

My relative good health and the ability (so far) to use all my limbs and senses can only be chalked up to good luck. More than anything, to be female and able to live a life full of choices and autonomy is nothing short of the best luck in the world. If you are female on this planet, geography is destiny.

Ellen Goodman, columnist for the Boston Globe, gives a global report card on gender equality. The column - "A Year of Notable Setbacks for Women" - ran for August 26, Equality Day, which commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave American women the right to vote. An excerpt:
We begin by looking to Japan where Shinzo Abe's government wins the Knights in (Tarnished) Armor Prize. There, the prime minister refused to apologize for the Japanese Army's use of "comfort women" as sexual slaves in World War II. That was after his health minister called women "baby-making machines." And finally, the bodyguard for his gender equality minister was arrested for molesting a college student on a train. We send the land of the rising sun a sunset clause.

What can we give the winner of this year's International Ayatollah Award? Our man is Ezzat Attiya, the creative Egyptian cleric who issued a fatwa saying that there was one way around the religious taboo against unmarried men and women working together. Women can breast-feed their male co-workers and legally become family. We would offer Attiya a special breast pump to accompany his fatwa, but we don't want him to milk the idea.

Ah, but in some pockets of the Middle East, there is progress toward gender equality. Take Iran, winner of our Dubious Equality Award. Why, just last month a man was stoned to death for adultery. We send the judges there an engraved citation for equal brutality.

Unfortunately, we must return home for the Patriarch of the Year Prize. It goes with disappointment to US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose opinion restricting abortions rested on the retro notion that women needed to be protected from "regret," "grief," and "sorrow," even if it meant protecting them from their rights. We send the paternalistic justice a hook to bring him back to the 21st century.

So many judges, so few blindfolds. The Blind Justice Award is winging its way to Carson City, Nev., District Judge Bill Maddox. While sentencing a man on kiddie porn charges, he opined: "It's my understanding that most men are sexually attracted to young women. . . . I mean women from the time they're 1 all the way up until they're 100." That blindfold should be placed carefully over his mouth.

Read the column here.

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