Changing Hawaii

By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Friday, January 15, 1999

that women
love the most

SOMEBODY named John Brockman, according to the Wall Street Journal, is compiling a definitive list of the most important inventions of the past 2,000 years. He apparently queried 1,000 scientists and other "techno-thinkers" to come up with this esteemed roster, and has published the results on the Web at

After perusing some of the nominees, one thing is obvious: Most of those polled by this guy Brockman were, well, undoubtedly guys. Check out a few of their suggestions:

bullet The atomic bomb, since "we were forced to examine our rules of war and seek new means of engagement to work out our differences."

bullet The steam engine, which "freed man and beast from physical labor."

bullet Hay, because "without grass in winter you could not have horses, and without horses you could not have urban civilization."

bullet Double entry accounting: "It is the DOS of money."

bullet Television, "the single most powerful and manipulative tool ever invented."

Tsk, tsk. It appears that we need a separate list recognizing the most important inventions in the opinion of liberated women. For example, let us give thanks for:

bullet The kiddie video, which allows parents to cook, clean, pay bills and do other household chores while the keiki are mesmerized by Barney or some other scintillating imaginary character.

bullet The right for women to vote, hold political office, own property, attend college, play sports and earn the same amount as men for the same work. Equal rights -- what a concept.

bullet The pager/cellular phone, so mommies and daddies can be accessible to their offspring (and to their offices, unfortunately) at all times.

bullet The forerunner of feminist publications, Ms. magazine, which miffed so many of its male-dominated advertisers that it carries no ads and survives on subscription fees.

bullet Pepper spray, especially in a big city like Honolulu, where gun-toting isn't allowed.

bullet The paternity test, so both parents can own up to their child-rearing responsibilities and maybe ante up some child support, too.

bullet Affordable and reliable child care, which allows women who have just given birth to return to the workplace if they want to and, in Hawaii's case, because they have to in order to live in "paradise."

bullet Divorce and the right to have custody of kids (if explanation is needed, consult a divorced mommy).

bullet Sensual massage oils and scented candles (If explanation is needed, consult a sex therapist -- immediately!).

CERTAINLY one of the most superlative inventions in modern times -- for women, at least -- is the sexual harassment lawsuit. No longer must office underlings (mostly female) be subjected to crude remarks, groping, unwanted sexual advances, ultimatums or worse by co-workers or supervisors.

In fact, the next frontier of the sex harassment lawsuit may be the public schools. U.S. Supreme Court justices are now reviewing an Atlanta case in which 10-year-old LaShonda Davis sued the Monroe County School Board because -- despite her and her mother's complaints over six months to non-responsive teachers and principals -- a fifth-grade boy kept grabbing her breasts and crotch and threatened to have sex with her.

Another great invention: the American justice system and savvy gals who know how to use it. You go, LaShonda.

Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at, or by fax at 523-7863.

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