These are not all things invented just for women, but they are things that are associated with – or generally important to – a great many women worldwide, and on a very personal level, me.
In no particular order:
Bras are gift-wrapping for your boobs. Theyâ€™re also a fantastically functional item for the heavy-boobed like me. I donâ€™t know many women who can (or choose to) go bra-less, and some research suggests around 90% of Western women wear a bra. Larger-chested ladies want to avoid the pain and discomfort of a free-fall approach, and I think most Western women of most sizes prefer a bra for aesthetic reasons. I saw a t-shirt recently that said â€œtell your boobs to stop staring at my eyesâ€. It made me laugh, but also made me think about just how boob-centric Western society is. And yes, as frustrating as it is, there is a media-and-fashion-provoked â€˜idealâ€™ cleavage that a lot of people, men and women, subscribe to (see the success of Wonderbra for details). That ideal exists whether we like it or not, and I doubt any amount of bra-burning will ever change that. All cleavage is equally fab, but in a properly-fitted bra it can be just that little bit fabber.
OK, women donâ€™t have exclusive use of chocolate, but by gosh we love the stuff. I think the science may be a little shaky, but
Oh tampon, how thou hast liberated me! According to popular advertising, tampon-wearing women can skate, swim, and generally lark about being outdoorsy despite there being a ton of womb-lining, unfertilised eggs, and generally gooey goo trying to expel itself from our bodies. The truth is fairly close to that, in that tampons do make almost anything possible compared to the â€˜open to the underpant elementsâ€™ alternatives, but itâ€™s not quite like every other week of the month, because you have a great wodge of cotton shoved up your hoo-hoo. Or as I like to put it, â€œa mouse in the houseâ€. But there is no denying that tampons are an amazing invention. The applicator tampon was invented in 1929 by Dr. Earle Haas. A mouse in the Haas, then.
Back to boobs, and a less frivolous subject this time. If youâ€™ve had a mammogram, youâ€™ll be familiar with the weird, clamping, youâ€™re-photocopying-my-boobs discomfort, and hopefully the amazing relief at the all-clear. If you havenâ€™t had one, I promise that the benefits completely justify the moment of discomfort. I had a lumpectomy a few years ago, and although the culprit didnâ€™t actually show on the mammogram (it did on the ultrasound), I count that as â€˜score one for scienceâ€™. Yes, itâ€™s not a perfect system, but it saves lives. A million cheers for Albert Salomon.
Invented by men, and often dominated by men, nonetheless I consider the internet to be one of the greatest inventions known to women. My great-grandmother was a suffragette, and in battling for equality for women, she and others like her knew just how vital it was to get accurate, compelling information out there as fast as possible, and exchange opinions, stories, hopes and ambitions with like-minded individuals. Nothing changes if you just sit at home and tell no-one. Everything changes when you get out into the world and start campaigning, start collecting support, and start telling others like you that they are not alone. The internet has made that possible on an unprecedented scale, and ironically enough, you now can change the world byâ€¦sitting at home.
Those are my Five Greatest Inventions Known to Women. Iâ€™m sure yours will differ, and Iâ€™d love to hear about them. You may even think mine are plain wrong, and Iâ€™d love to hear about that too. I had a hard time narrowing it down to just five, and I really wanted to include Gregory House in there but sadly he just couldnâ€™t stand up to the others.