Fighting for washing machine use

WOMEN who fought for our equality and liberation in the Western world must sometimes wonder if it was all worth it.They credit the contraceptive pill, work opportunities outside the home and the liberalisation of abortion as bedrocks of women's freedom.

WOMEN who fought for our equality and liberation in the Western world must sometimes wonder if it was all worth it.

They credit the contraceptive pill, work opportunities outside the home and the liberalisation of abortion as bedrocks of women's freedom.

But the real protagonist of female liberation is apparently far more practical.

Hail the washing machine - twin tub or front loader. Our true liberator.

The invention of the domestic appliance has put women where they are today, according to the Catholic Church in an article to mark International Women's Day on Sunday - written, undoubtedly, by a man.

The washing machine was more important in the liberation of women than the contraceptive pill - or anything else - and is the reason we can live the lives we live today, it said.

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Right-oh. So International Women's Day was marked by celebrating the noble washing machine for freeing generations of women from the drudgery of housework.

Let's forget the female fight then, shall we? Women's rights boil down to a blinking domestic appliance and how it made our lives - I love how domestic appliances seem to have been invented solely for women's convenience - so much better.

But, washing machines aside, the women who fought so hard for equality must feel their battles have been wasted by women through the decades, especially today.

Have you seen the TV ad running at the moment for a Mothers Day album to treat the most important person in your life - 101 Housework Songs? I rest my case. She won't love it - or you very much when you hand it over.

But, whatever the opportunities, some women aren't interested in independence, autonomy or equality - or even the choice.

They still feel safer being told what to do by a man and, washing machine or no washing machine, being tied to their home trapped in often stifling marriages.

Too many young women still view life as school, man, house and children and, perhaps a little job in between. Women happy to be economically dependent on men in a world where football WAGS are role models.

In 2009, we still hear women say 'my husband won't let me' take an evening class, go out with friends, drive out of town, wear trousers even. I jest you not.

Some women never go out without their husbands or partners. You see them in the supermarket together. She's so insecure she daren't even pick up a brand of beans without his say so.

The lines are clearly marked. She is the housewife. He is the breadwinner. The drudge and the hunter.

Whatever society's progress, so many women choose to live as women lived centuries ago, beholden to and reliant on men and doing as they are told.

Of course, many women have embraced the benefits of women's liberation, equality and opportunities and enjoy healthy marriages.

But, the recession might be the jolt these dependent women need to wake up and smell the Colombian.

Safe 'traditional' roles are under threat. Women who've never done a day's work in their lives might face their breadwinner's redundancy with the need to go out herself and bring home the bacon.

I do hope so. The fight would feel a little more worth it.

And, after all, the washing machine is there to help her.

If Jade Goody wants her sons to lead straight and narrow lives with healthy influences after she's gone then she won't go ahead with the bonkers plan to make husband Jack Tweed their 'dad number 2.'

They've got a father; they don't need another - certainly not one with a nasty criminal record of violence and no concept of self-control.

When Cheryl Cole married Ashley Cole he was at the top of his game and she was just one member of a girl band.

But her star has risen as fast as his is dropping.

Reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief, the darling of the X-Factor and her general conduct and contribution has won her credibility, respect and admiration.

Ashley, on the other hand, is acting like a plonker and attracting derision and even pity.

As soon as Cheryl's back is turned he behaved like a prize goon, drunk and disorderly in the back of a police car.

I give it two years at the most.

Maria Murray won �1 million on the lottery on Christmas Eve. So far she's only spent �170 in 11 weeks, apart from the share she gave her children.

She was so hard up before her win she couldn't afford Christmas presents for her boyfriend or grown up children.

Only those who know real hardship are terrified of feeling like that again. Sick with worry about where the next week's shopping is coming from.

So what if all she's bought was a pair of reading glasses and some boots in the sale?

She's happy knowing money is in the bank and her future is secure.

And what's wrong with that in this day and age?

Leila Deen, the 29-year-old environmental protester who chucked green custard over Business Secretary Peter Mandelson might have had an impressive coherent argument.

But any point was lost in her attention seeking cheap trick attack - protestors call it 'direct action'.

When an argument degenerates to name calling and hurling stuff, it's lost. Victory is with the victim. Her weapon might have been gooey mess but it was still violence and physical intimidation.

I wonder if she chose green custard not as a reflection of her politics but as a reference to the tale of Mr Mandelson's request in a Hartlepool chip shop for 'some of that guacamole' pointing at the mushy peas.

At least then she could be credited with a sense of humour.

When I read the five-mile route that four-year-old Cole Honeywood had cycled solo across Lowestoft while his poor mum was going out of her mind my heart was in my mouth.

It was a miracle he hadn't been knocked down in rush hour on the relief road or crossing the A12.

But little legs take a long time to cycle five miles. Isn't it terrible that, with all the people around at that time probably all carrying mobile phones, only one person tried to stop him on his big adventure and no one called the police to report a tiny tot cycling alone?

Women in strained marriages are more likely to show signs of heart disease, stroke and diabetes because of their troubled relationship.

Their husbands though can sail through the misery with no adverse health effects, according to American psychologists who studied 276 couples aged between 40 and 70 who had been married about 20 years.

So a bad marriage can kill a woman but not even touch a man's health. Says it all really.

Almost seven million adults struggle to answer maths and English questions that are meant for 11-year-olds.

Not all seven million could have been persistent truants. Most probably finished school, sitting in classrooms for years when they hadn't got a clue what was going on.

Teachers who allowed this to happen over the years should be hanging their heads in shame - and it's still going on today.

Teenagers are leaving school written off as hopeless because no one sat down and went through the basics with them again - and again, if they needed it.

More than �1 billion of government funding is being spent over the next year to help people who lack basic skills to get and keep jobs with free numeracy and literacy training.

Laudable, of course, and should be grabbed with both hands by those who need it.

But should this type of spending really be necessary if teachers were doing their jobs properly. It's easy to teach the easy to teach but that's not what they signed up to do.

There are many that need patience, help and more help to make sense of numbers and words.

We can but hope today's teachers are going that extra mile for future generations of adults.

MP Tom Harris might describe the scale of Britain's teenage mothers living on benefits as 'a national catastrophe' but he ain't seen anything yet.

In a recession, with little to do, no money to do it and no hope of a job, teenagers have to fill their time doing something and we all know what.

As we move into a depression, even those girls who thought they might find a job will see pregnancy as a means to income and a home of their own.

So this, Mr Harris, is only the tip of the iceberg. The worst is yet to come.

Fast-track teaching courses are planned to encourage redundant professionals - especially those in the financial sector with maths and science skills - to spend six months or less training to get into the classroom.

Interesting that the courses are so short - or is it that years of experience in the real world, in the private sector, where performance, achievement and success counts for everything and also-rans fall at the first hurdle, can make up for months, even years, of training?

It's what our children need - teaching and guidance by people who have 'done' and not just taught in the real world - sometimes 60 hours a week for 47 weeks of the year - and know exactly what employers expect.