Washing machine liberated women most?

VATICAN CITY Mon Mar 9, 2009 1:56pm EDT

An employee walks near Panasonic Corp (R) and Sanyo Electric Co Ltd washing machines at a Sofmap electronics store in Tokyo November 4, 2008. Shares in Panasonic Corp jumped nearly 5 percent on Tuesday, after sources said it planned to buy smaller rival Sanyo Electric Co Ltd to create Japan's largest electronics maker. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

An employee walks near Panasonic Corp (R) and Sanyo Electric Co Ltd washing machines at a Sofmap electronics store in Tokyo November 4, 2008. Shares in Panasonic Corp jumped nearly 5 percent on Tuesday, after sources said it planned to buy smaller rival Sanyo Electric Co Ltd to create Japan's largest electronics maker.

Credit: Reuters/Toru Hanai

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Feminists of the world sit down before you read this. The Vatican newspaper says that perhaps the washing machine did more to liberate women in the 20th century than the pill or the right to work.

The submission was made in a lengthy article titled "The Washing Machine and the Liberation of Women - Put in the Detergent, Close the Lid and Relax."

The article was printed at the weekend in l'Osservatore Romano, the semi-official Vatican newspaper, to mark international Women's Day on Sunday.

"What in the 20th century did more to liberate Western women?," asks the article, which was written by a woman.

"The debate is heated. Some say the pill, some say abortion rights and some the right to work outside the home. Some, however, dare to go further: the washing machine," it says.

It then goes on to talk about the history of washing machines, starting with a rudimentary model in 1767 in Germany and ending up with today's trendy launderettes where a woman can have a cappuccino with friends while the tumbler turns.

(Editing by Jon Boyle)

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