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Ace & Grace

What's a girl to do (besides change the sheets and quit her job) when on one day the Southern Baptists declare women must submit to their husbands, and the next day Bear Stearns ace Ace Greenberg donates one million bucks to underprivileged Viagra users?

Well, she could say, ''Shove it, Brother/brother.'' Or she could respect her foremothers, and burn her WonderBra (which is about as comfortable as an eight-hour mammogram, and as natural looking as Michael Jackson's nose).

Now, I don't want to be the recipient of (any more) letter bombs, but I knew there was a reason I gave up both marriage and organized religion for Lent about, oh, 20 years ago. It was the rules. They just seemed to work best if you happened to be a heterosexual guy. Since I'm not, I felt they were as liberating for me as a panty girdle. (The WonderBra hadn't been invented yet, so I couldn't make the ref.)

Yes, I realize that even Catholics went soft and cuddly in the '70s, in a bizarre attempt to lure strays back to both marriage and religion. My God! They brought in non-habit-wearing, guitar-playing nuns, and collar-free married-sex--expert priests to lead encounter groups for unhappy couples. It smelled phony to me. For one thing, the clothes the nuns picked were enough to make you question the concept of God altogether, let alone the concept of guitar mass. And didn't you ever wonder how priests, who were supposed to be celibate, knew the secret to a happy marriage?

Besides all that, I always felt that no matter what any religion did to make itself more woman-friendly, women would somehow end up covering their heads and wearing habits, ''modest clothing,'' and other top-to-toe cover-ups (notable exceptions, of course, are non--Southern Baptist Protestants, who seem to believe more in Chanel than chador. Is God really all that concerned with fashion? Where, for example, in the Ten Commandments does it say, ''Thou shalt dress in upsetting outfits that are unbearably hot in the summer''? If that's what He/She really wanted, He/She wouldn't have invented the feminist movement and Gloria Steinem in the '70s.

But that was then and this is now. Almost 16 million Southern Baptists are demanding graceful submission, Steinem is endorsing Bill Clinton's behavior with women (he's a man who understands ''no means no,'' she declared in a New York Times op-ed piece), and the feminist movement hasn't had much movement in years. Worst of all, who--besides Patricia Duff, who marries well for a living--can afford a closetful of Chanel?

If all this isn't enough to make you start chador-shopping and thinking ''submission,'' along comes Ace ''The Head Case'' Greenberg, who has nothing better to do with a million bucks than give it to the society to help dirty old men (Old Farts Need Sex Too, or OFNST). A million bucks can buy a lot of, er, uptime. It's a good thing dirty old men aren't all that fast (on their feet at least), and we can still outrun them. Although, given the climate of the times, not submitting to a Viagra user (particularly one you're married to) might become illegal, or maybe even a sin.

It's all too depressing. Will free Viagra for the underprivileged, and the new ruling for 16 million Americans--including the Southern Baptist president of the U.S.--put women back in our place, or places--the kitchen, the bedroom, the nursery, and church pews? Let's start by watching how the president responds. Despite his recent episode of taking communion during a Catholic Mass, he ain't Catholic--he is most definitely a Southern Baptist. His wife, Hillary, however, is Methodist all the way, and it doesn't look like she's going to be submitting any time soon.

Maybe the ruling can extend to mistresses. While Monica Lewinsky is Jewish, the media is painting her as being as submissive as any Southern Baptist wife whose husband just scored Viagra from Ace Greenberg.

 
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