I should know better than to watch anything on television that touts itself as a news program. This past weekend, it was CBS’ “Sunday Morning” that curdled my non-dairy creamer. I’ll assume Sunday’s show was intended to be a Mothers’ Day nod to American women. Charlie Osgood stepped aside in favor of veteran commentator Leslie Stahl. Happily, we were not regaled with 60’s-esque segments on keeping your family happy, healthy, and well-fed, while remianing the petite size 4 that attracted the husband’s lacivious eye at senior prom. Program directors are way too savvy for that, regardless of the political preferences evidenced by media ownership these days.

So what did the network deem of supreme interest to today’s American woman? In one segment, a reporter displayed two different diamond engagement rings to interviewees and asked them to make certain judgments–about the man who gave the ring, the woman who accepted it, their relationship, and their social status –based on the relative sizes of the diamonds sported by each ring. Big rock–“He’s got a good job.” “He really loves her.” “She’s confident, knows what she wants.” Little rock (less than 3 carats)–“Well, it’s a nice promise ring” “He’s trying, but not very hard.” “She’s a nice girl, not materialistic.” Who knew that we were all wearing little crystal balls on our third finger, left hand? Oh..and the median cost of a diamond engagement ring in today’s market is $4900 and change. Let’s see…that would buy two dozen copies of my 1970’s vintage bling.

And then there was the report on handbags, where we learned that a purse is not merely a purse, it’s a status symbol. That the guts of your life–the fruit roll-ups, pampers, current novel, and the bic from the teller’s counter at the bank–need to be enfolded in an artfully arranged assortment of fabric, leather, buckles, zippers, and handcuffs, preferably displaying a conspicuously evident designer logo, that cost roughly as much as my first new car. And that there are $12,000 handbags which women will endure the ignominy of being placed on a waiting list in order to possess.

I don’t know…maybe we are not up for images ofwomen grieving at the gravesides of their young sons or daughters who returned from Iraq in flag-draped pine boxes, or mothers in Darfur lovingly cradling lethargic, emaciated, dying babies, at nine o’clock on a Sunday morning. But surely there is more to American women than this program–this disgusting celebration of shallow materialism and rampant consumerism–contrived to suggest.

I hope you had a happy Mothers’ Day, America. And please, contact CBS News and let them know how much you appreciated their “gift.”

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