The Magic Washing Machine – men behind the curtain

Today I ran across a short video that no one should miss watching, a video about the magic washing machine.

Hans Rosling and the magic washing machine
By Gapminder, featuring Prof. Hans Rosling

“What was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution? Hans Rosling makes the case for the washing machine. With newly designed graphics from Gapminder, Rosling shows us the magic that pops up when economic growth and electricity turn a boring wash day into an intellectual day of reading.” — Gapminder

Watch the video (nine minutes).  It is a fascinating and spell-binding presentation, as all of Hans Rosling’s presentations are, but this one is one of his best.

Prof. Hans Rosling concludes his presentation with:

Thank you, Industrialization!

Thank you, Steel Mills!

Thank you, Power Stations, and thank you, Chemical-Processing Industry, that they [his mother, his grandmother and all other women of the world] got time to read books.

Thank you very much.  (Which was followed by a very large round of well-deserved applause)

It is an impressive presentation about the wealthy in the world, the plight of poor women and their respective levels of energy consumption.

1890 photo of woman doing laundry by hand

…picture was taken in 1900, and shows a woman doing the wash in a wash tub with a scrub board. This would have to be a hard job. I would think that it would be very hard on your hands.

It stresses the power of democracy and that the poor suffering women in Brazil, for example, were able to elect a woman, the former energy minister of Brazil, as their prime minister, but it does not mention that, in doing so, they established an increasingly oppressive, corrupt, communist, totalitarian regime.

It stresses, with very likable humour, that the wealthy of the world need to reduce their energy consumption and replace half of their remaining energy use with energy from green sources.  However, it does not stress that in doing so right now, food prices escalated in the poor nations so much that hundreds of thousands of people now no longer can afford to eat and therefore starve to death (250,000 a year, by some estimates).

It praises the advances brought about by industrialization, steel mills, power stations, the chemical-processing industry (which would include many other technological inventions and processes — including the washing machine that gave Hans Rosling’s mother the time to begin to read books)  and that they were inventions that made women’s lives easier, but it does not praise the innovators, men, whose innovations primarily made women’s lives easier and safer.

In all of the presentations by Hans Rosling that I watched over the years, I noticed that he seems to speak about his mother far more often than Liberace used to speak about his, but he never once mentioned his wife and perhaps only once mentioned his dad, and I wonder why that is.  Does his wife not deserve his concern as much as his mother does?  Is she not a mother, too?  Hans Rosling does have a son.

And what about his dad?  Was it not his dad who brought home the money that his family saved to buy the washing machine that gave his mother time to read?

Washing machine make time available

Time for other things (photo is from an ad for a “jeans washing machine” in Brazil)

What about all of the men who worked so hard to improve the living standards for all, who made it possible for all to increase their life expectancies by many years throughout the world, but primarily and far more so for women than for men?

To come back to washing machines.  I had a mother, too, as we all had or have, but I also had a father, just as Hans Rosling and everyone else had or has.  My mother used to wash by hand.  I know, I helped her, and so did all of my siblings.  Our family was very poor.  There was not the chance of a snow ball in Hell that we could ever have saved enough to buy a washing machine, as much as we all would have wanted to, not for as long as we were mired in poverty.

My mother was a very smart woman, she read a lot and studied, but she never once thought of building her own washing machine.  My Dad did.  The agitator for that washing machine he built was driven by water pressure from the water tap, using a one-cycle cylinder and reciprocating piston with two power strokes, with a rack and pinion gear.

And yes, my mother read and studied even more, thanks to my Dad, and she thanked him for that.  That is something that apparently never once entered Hans Rosling’s mind and that so many of us forget to do, because we take what men do for granted.  For that reason neither Hans Rosling nor most others ever bother to thank men for making the things and the sacrifices of their lives that make women’s lives so much safer, easier, more enjoyable, and much longer.

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One Response to The Magic Washing Machine – men behind the curtain

  1. It would be great if Prof. Hans Rosling would illustrate the benefits of technological inventions and ingenuity, and the progress of civilization, by means of another issue that is of far greater importance than the magic washing machine: the magic cookpot

    Hundreds of millions of the most poor in the world would immediately benefit from that. It would start with the most basic aspect, enormously more efficient energy use, cleaning up the environment in millions of homes by making the air breathable and preventing serious lung disease for their inhabitants (primarily for those who do the cooking), and it would immediately make an enormous contribution for the global environment by reducing one of the major causes of deforestation, by saving most of the wood burned in inefficient, open cooking fires.

    The benefits would be immediate. No sophisticated infrastructure would be required, while no magic washing machine could operate without an electric distribution system that presently is not even in the planning stages for most of the areas affected by the most severe poverty. People who are forced to cook their food on open fires do not have or cannot afford electricity for washing machines.

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