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Vatican credits gadget for liberating women

The Vatican's official newspaper celebrates International Women's Day by crediting a household appliance--the washing machine--for liberating 20th century woman.

If only Circuit City had hung on a little longer, it might have promoted the hell out of this.

The Vatican's official newspaper, Osservatore Romano, has decided to credit a household gadget--the washing machine--with being one of main reasons for female emancipation in the 20th century.

The article enjoyed a headline that positively rippled with gaiety: "The Washing Machine and the Emancipation of Women--Put in the Powder, Close the Lid and Relax."

It suggested that the humble washing machine might have done more to liberate contemporary womanhood than, say, the contraceptive pill, or being able to get a job in an office with a bunch of unreconstructed, leering men. (Oh, I know at least one of you has watched "Mad Men.")

While I know that many might revere gadgets for making our lives easier and more enjoyable--men would not be men without the Rubik Cube mp3 player or the computer-controlled coffee roaster --I wonder whether the washing machine really can be ranked above, say, women getting the vote.

You just feel the emancipation the minute you set eyes on it, no? CC Blue Line Swinger

The vote was not granted to women in, for example, Switzerland until 1971. This compares perhaps unfavorably with the timing of the world's first automatic washing machine, which appears have to have been introduced by the Bendix Corporation in 1937.

Perhaps the Swiss were waiting for all women to have a washing machine, so that they would all have an equal chance of popping down to the polling station.

Oh, in case you're wondering why the Vatican's newspaper took on such a challenging topic, well, March 8 was International Women's Day. And something had to be said to celebrate that, didn't it?